December 14, 2017

Communications with clients, opposing counsel, and adjudicators often raise difficult questions about ethics and professionalism. Where is the line between zealous advocacy and incivility? What are best practices for communicating tough litigation issues to employees/grievors with mental health disabilities? In this session, seasoned advocates will provide guidance on these and other key issues, helping you avoid breakdowns in communication that may lead to legal malpractice claims, duty of fair representation allegations, and complaints to law societies.

  • Maintaining contact: When are face-to-face meetings with clients/grievors advisable during litigation and negotiations? What level of communication should be maintained with grievors while awaiting arbitration?
  • Tough communications: What are some best practices for communicating difficult litigation issues to employees/grievors with mental health disabilities? When should face-to-face discussions be documented in writing? Do you have to share with an employer or employee all the information you receive from opposing counsel? All discussions with a mediator or arbitrator?
  • Dealing with difficult people: How should labour relations professionals deal with clients/grievors who appear to be bullies, or are chronically angry or resistant to change? What should you do if you don’t believe your client is being completely honest?
  • Zealous advocacy: What standards are applicable to an advocate’s behaviour? Where is the line between zealous advocacy and incivility? Is it appropriate to subtly inform an arbitrator that an unwelcome decision could result in his or her “never arbitrating in this town again”?
  • Conversations during the hearing: Is it always inappropriate to communicate with your own witnesses before they have completed giving evidence? If not, when is it permissible? What about witnesses for the opposing side?
  • Papering the file: Should all discussions/instructions from clients/grievors be documented in writing? Are notes to the file sufficient, or should confirming letters/emails be sent? How much detail is required for notes regarding settlement discussions? What type of notes should be kept by negotiators and lawyers during bargaining? What information is particularly important to include?