University of Windsor Mediation Services provides mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution training to Windsor-Essex community members as well as University staff and students. It was founded and established in 1995 by Dr. Julie Macfarlane who remains the Faculty Advisor. The day-to-day operations of Mediation Services are handled by the Director, Lynne Pearlman, professional staff and law student interns.
Mediation is a confidential alternative to resolving disputes, provided free of charge to individuals in the community. The people having a conflict meet together with a mediator and talk about the issues they are having with the hopes of solving the dispute. The mediator does not give legal advice or make decisions for the parties. Instead, the mediator helps the parties talk about their issues in a safe, productive way.
Mediation Services began as an extra-curricular pilot project of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. It was the first community mediation service in the Windsor-Essex County area, and the first clinical mediation training program in a Canadian law school. The pilot project initially offered training in mediation skills to law students, through a series of weekend workshops. The next step sought to offer these students an opportunity to practice their new skills in a clinical setting. As no community mediation service had existed in Windsor since the early 1980s, Mediation Services was established to fill these twin needs - to provide clinical experience in mediation skills for law students, and to provide an accessible mediation service to the Windsor community. Today, Mediation Services is a permanent and much larger operation.
In addition to providing special training to the Faculty of Education students, first year University students, and student groups at the University of Windsor, Mediation Services focuses on groups outside the university setting.
Mediation Services provides conflict resolution skills training for high school students, including co-op students who often experience conflict in their workplaces. Its workshops focus on skills-based training specific to the needs of the students. In addition, Mediation Services offers peer mediation training for schools which have started, or are attempting to start, a peer mediation program.
In addition, Mediation Services is offering a different way to resolve disputes involving older adults by providing conflict resolution for families who are experiencing care-giver stress, care planning, disputes among siblings, financial decisions, residence decisions, abuse, and much more. Mediation is also provided for commercial contracts, residential tenancies, Small Claims issues and other areas.
Every mediation session is different, depending on the needs of the parties. In general, mediation is cheaper and faster than going to court, and people can preserve or improve their relationships.
At Mediation Services, disputes are mediated with the Director and upper-year law students. Although its mediators are legally trained, they will not offer legal advice or make any comment on the merits of a party’s position. Instead, Mediation Services focuses on helping parties have a constructive, practical discussion about the issues in dispute.