Labour Arbitration Skills
Learning the Advocate’s Art and Science of Building and Presenting Winning Arbitration Cases
Effective advocacy before an arbitrator requires the same blend of skills, street smarts, and techniques as advocacy before a judge in a courtroom. It requires careful and extensive preparation before the hearing, concise opening statements, organized and efficient presentation of evidence, and persuasive argument. Leading advocates and arbitrators will coach you through the preparation and presentation of a challenging arbitration case. In this dynamic program, you will build presentation and advocacy skills and get immediate feedback from an experienced arbitrator.
a) The First Principles of Arbitration
To ensure you have a solid foundation for the coming week, the opening session offers a picture of the environment in which an arbitrator must operate.
By the end of this session, you will have a foundation in:
- The role and powers of the arbitrator
- The purpose of arbitration
- Governing legislation
- Development of arbitral jurisprudence
- The evolution of doctrine
b) Introduction to the Arbitration Hearing
To give a sense of the “look and feel” of the typical labour arbitration hearing, we offer this overview of the process and normal procedures to follow. At the same time, you get a chance to pick up a few pointers on typical presentation pitfalls to avoid.
c) Advanced Topics in Arbitration
For more experienced advocates, we offer a parallel workshop on advanced topics such as streamlining the hearing. You will negotiate an agreed statement of facts and argue a preliminary motion on the admissibility of video surveillance.
d) Preparing for the Hearing
Do you know the types of evidence that arbitrators require? What types of evidence will be excluded? What are the rules governing hearsay? We show you how to get essential facts into the evidentiary record, and how to assess your opponent’s theory of the case.
Learn the following eight steps of foolproof case prepping:
- Learn the facts
- Develop your theory
- Consider precedents
- Take stock of possible flaws or amendments
- Consider preliminaries
- Narrow your focus
- Prepare your witnesses
- Prepare opening/cross/closing
e) Becoming a Research Hound
Legal research can be costly in terms of time and money. We offer a series of questions to help shape a research plan, introduce you to a basic research model, and give you tips and resources to get you going in the right direction.
f) Arbitration and Human Rights
Delve deeper into the issues surrounding arbitration and human rights, such as sexual harassment and discrimination against people with disabilities. Take away an invaluable resource booklet on “the duty to accommodate at arbitration.”
g) Mastering the Hearing
Learn how to prepare your witnesses and evidence. Practice what you have learned in a role play, and get a live demonstration of how to qualify an expert witness. Find out how to order your evidence and how to hold the attention of the arbitrator. We offer techniques on questioning and presenting exhibits that are highly effective.
Learn more about:
- Delivering effective opening and closing statements
- Examining, cross-examining, and reexamining witnesses
- Understanding key aspects of the rules of evidence
- Objecting at the right time and in the right way
h) Mock Arbitration
Here is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to practice your new advocacy skills and get expert coaching along the way. With a partner, research your case and prepare an opening statement, examination-in-chief, cross examination, and closing argument. Deliver your case before an experienced arbitrator.
i) Awards and Debriefing
In the final session, assemble with your colleagues to hear the arbitrators’ awards and share impressions of the mock hearing. How did you fare? Did you encounter any surprises?
By the end of the week, you will be better positioned to:
- Prepare effectively for the hearing and develop the theory of the case
- Assess your opponent’s case
- Make opening and closing statements
- Examine and cross-examine effectively
- Establish the facts at the hearing
- Tender evidence and object to evidence
- Prepare and present a mock arbitration before an experienced arbitrator
- Significant savings in grievance arbitration costs
- Faster and more streamlined preparation for hearings
- Better labour management relations
- Greater knowledge of employment law nuances
- Labour Arbitration Workbook
Labour lawyers and labour relations professionals who are involved in the grievance process or who prepare and present cases before boards of arbitrators
Professor Deborah Leighton is a member of the faculty of the School of Policy Studies, at Queen’s University, teaching in the Master of Industrial Relations program since 1994. She has been a labour mediator and arbitrator since 1992, and has been a named arbitrator for many parties including Air Canada and ACPA, University of Toronto and CUPE, and the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT-Academic) and OPSEU.
In addition to her private practice as a mediator and arbitrator, Deborah has acted in these roles for a number of public boards. She has been a Vice-Chair at the Ontario Crown Employees' Grievance Settlement Board since 1996 and a Vice-Chair, at the Ontario Public Service Grievance Board...
Read the full bio for Deborah Leighton