Professionalism and Ethics in Family Law

We are pleased to share this report by Research Fellow Deanne Sowter entitled Professionalism and Ethics in Family Law: The Other 90%.

This report summarizes the findings of a research project that was undertaken with the support of the OBA Foundation Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism Studies, and a Research Fellowship with The Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution. The project looked at ethics and professionalism in family law alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), specifically collaborative law, negotiation, and mediation. As innovation in the provision of legal services continues to develop, it requires consideration of what constitutes ethical professional behaviour within those service models. What is meant by the term “ethical” in family law ADR? How will new professionals know what norms to apply? And how will the public know how to measure a professionals behaviour? While this project asked some of these questions, it also sought to begin a broader conversation that is still ongoing about understanding legal ethics in an innovative ADR process. The goal of the project was to look at all three components that serve as guidance for family law lawyers when dealing with ethical challenges in family law ADR: codes of conduct and professional standards, academic research, and ethics in practice. The project included empirical research involving ground table discussions with three groups of professionals (lawyer-mediators, settlement-focused negotiators, and collaborative lawyers), with a view to determining what is considered to be unethical behaviour in family law ADR.

For Deanne’s blog posts, please see  below: