Robert A Kominar of Integrity Dispute Resolution tells us about his passion for helping people work through their disputes in this featured business article.
1. What made you want to start your law practice?
Well, actually, I had a graduate degree in Philosophy and was looking for some way to make a living with that so I went to law school. After law school I thought about going on to finish my doctorate in philosophy but “we” got pregnant and so that wasn’t in the cards. I then articled with a firm that did only family and criminal law and for some reason fell in love with the work.
2. If you had to pick one thing out of your day, what’s the most exciting / favourite?
Much of law and dispute resolution practice is focused on routines just as any other field. However the most gratifying aspect of the work I do is to help people who are going through an anguishing break up of their family to see that all out fighting is neither necessary nor helpful in the long run. When people truly recognize that there is a better option to work through their disputes it makes the work all worthwhile.
3. Who is your ideal client?
Interesting question. In this field people who are in conflict, who are unsure of what their problem is and what options they have to move forward.
4. What do you consider your biggest weakness?
Another great question! I think it is that I multi-task too much. I have the kind of mind that bounces back and forth between different tasks and ideas all the time. It is a great strength for a mediator, but it can be a challenge when focusing on routine business related matters.
5. How are you improving on that weakness?
Currently I am looking for an administrative assistant to assist me with organizational matters. I have had interns in the past and found them very helpful, at the moment I don’t and therefore am looking for a staff member.
6. What is your biggest strength?
I have been told, and am happy to learn, that my listening abilities are very strong. That is the essential in using mediation rather than litigation to resolve disputes of all kinds. Listening is not just about gather information, when one does it well it allows a relationship to form with the other person and this in turn leads to a kind of professional trust that allows a mediator to guide a client through areas they may have anxiety and uncertainty about. The fact that mediators don’t “tell people what to do or make decisions for them” prompts people to recognize that there are few if any situations in life that can’t be improved with good will on both sides.
7. How do you like running your practice?
Working with clients energizes me and so, despite the fact that I am busy, I always look forward to meeting with people, especially bringing together people who previously refused to talk to each other.
8. If you could change one thing about your businesses day-to-day routine, what would it be?
Quite honestly, the only thing I would change relates to the administrative paper work that is necessary. Thus the search for an assistant!
9. If you had a chance to say one thing to a brand new client, before they walk in the door, what would it be?
I am not a “traditional” litigation lawyer any more. I was good at trial work when I did it, but the reality was that it seldom, if ever, resolved the problems it was created to resolve. Mediation, and other less adversarial processes for resolving disputes between separating spouses, estate beneficiaries, businesses, etc. have finally come into their own and more and more people understand that there are less harmful and less expensive ways to work through their conflicts than taking them to court. We are in a real paradigm shift at the moment with the public finally knowing about such options and seeking them out. My practice is dedicated to helping people find the best process to resolve their differences. Only rarely does that mean resort to the courts.