Ontario Bar Association – Award of Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Resolution in one or more of the following areas: academic excellence (teaching or Resolution in one or more of the following areas: academic excellence (teaching or publication); development of excellent ADR practices; enhancement of the practice of ADR or its effective incorporation into the practice of law; leadership in the bar or the government or the Law Society of Upper Canada or OBA in relation to ADR issues, legislation and practice.legislation and practice.

    Comments by Rick Weiler Upon Receipt of Award of Excellence

"Thank you Paul [Jacobs] for those kind comments and for keeping your part of the bargain. We had agreed that Paul would shower me with excessive and clearly exaggerated flattery (to help deal with my self-esteem issue following the recent debate with Barry Fisher) and, in return, I would try – try, mind you - to keep my remarks within the time limit allotted.

The achievements of the OBA ADR Section since its founding is a long and impressive list. I am proud to have played a small role in the past and look forward to the opportunity for continued contribution.

I ask you to appreciate that it is a daunting task to accept an Award of Excellence in the presence of so many who know the truth of the matter. Still, as my wife and partner Tsion has reminded me, there is a significant distinction between Excellence and Perfection.

Acceptance of this Award is for me an occasion to say thank you to those who have contributed to me appearing before you today. The list is much too long for the time allotted but I ask your indulgence as I mention a few.

My wife, Tsion

She is a full partner in my practice and in my life. Tsion has helped me to understand that excellence is also about balance and recognizing the blessings of life each day.

Rick Russell

I have been blessed to learn from many – including many in this room – but no one has taught me more about the art and science of ADR than Rick Russell. When Rick called me to ask if I would allow him to put my name in nomination for this award it was one of the happiest days of my life.

Gary Furlong

I worked closely with Gary at Agree Inc. and was invariably impressed and motivated by his energy and dedication that is well known to all present here today.

Bob Birt

The former president of Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution in Ottawa who gave me a chance to teach mediation skills in a training workshop setting.

Rob Nelson

Former executive director of the ADR Institute of Canada and partner at Gowlings who gave me my first chance on the international stage during our ADR Project in Russia

Allan McGirr

my long time friend, mentor and coach who has helped me in my practice in so many ways.

Dave McNabb and Glenn Blaylock

Two visionaries at the Royal Bank who gave me a chance to help with what was, at that time, a ground breaking ADR project.

Ellen Zweibel

Vice Dean at U of O Law School who gave me a chance teaching an ADR Seminar there.

Carole Houk

Carole also gave me a chance – I think because I observed a “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign - to do some of the most fascinating work of my career to date at the Pentagon. You may imagine the challenges involved in designing a “War Game” to simulate a mediation!

Each of the over 1500 lawyers in the Province of Ontario who has given me a chance to mediate a case for them.

As I look around the room I am well aware that this is not the time for a homily on Excellence. Not only would I be preaching to the choir, but it is a choir that may be overly prone to considering the source.

Still, I am drawn to Aristotle’s oft quoted observation that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” As I reflected on this honour it occurred to me that I have strived and continue to strive to develop certain habits that I believe make me more effective as a mediator. And while I clearly fall short of the consistent observation of these habits I thought it appropriate to mention them here.

Habit of Yes, and..... We live in an “either / or world” where we are constantly told you’re either with us or against us. Effective dispute resolution challenges us to understand the complexity of the world and take a “yes, and…” approach.

Habit of Genuine Curiosity. I’ve found that as a mediator I must constantly remind myself that I simply don’t know. I don’t know the deep needs and concerns of the people I work with in mediation. I must be genuinely curious about those needs and concerns as the first step to assisting them to find solutions to adequately address them.

Habit of High Expectations. My experience not only as a mediator but in life generally has been that people and events rise or fall to meet your expectations. I am keenly aware that tat the list of people I thanked a few moments ago has at least one thing in common. They had high expectations for me (and they let me know it – often in no uncertain terms). We need to create more opportunities to have high expectations for others combined with the faith that they will rise to those expectations.

I’ve mentioned these three habits not to try to teach anything to this group, but rather to encourage all of us to share our own habits of excellence with one another and to preserver in the observation and development of these habits.

In conclusion let me say that I am keenly aware that receipt of such an award does not mark the commencement of a period of resting on one’s laurels. Rather, for me, it has been a welcome occasion to reflect on the past, but, more importantly to recommit and rededicate to a spirit of excellence for the exciting journey that stretches in front.

Thank you."


Rick's Last Minute Availability

May 2, Jun 6, Jul 5, Aug 21, 28

Email Tsion to request dates.