The OBA Award of Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • January 27, 2021
  • Oksana Romanov

Excellence and My 1L Experience 

I started law school in September 2020. From the first days of the Intensive Prep Course at Ryerson University Faculty of Law, I have learned what excellence means in the context of a new law school: supporting one another, reaching out to others rather than competing for the sake of outperforming your peers. Collaborating with others who might have more academic or professional pre-law experience is a key to lawyering differently when we graduate in three years. Although competition and rivalry will not completely go away, excellence can be achieved by giving and sharing. 

Mentorship is a Relationship 

Mentorship is as much about the relationships as it is one. It has the what and the when aspects: the guidance one receives from a mentor and the period of time one spends in a mentor-mentee relationship. Undoubtedly, mentorship plays a significant role in everyone's legal journey. Overall success and satisfaction on the job hinge on it. During my first semester of law school, I have also learned that a law student needs to have not just one mentor but multiple mentors, who can act as a resource or even a sounding board for new law students. This was eye-opening. Some lawyers go above and beyond in helping law students and junior lawyers. For example, Chapter 6 of the Rules of Professional Conduct covers Relationships to students, employees and others, including articling students. The rules are the minimum standard that all lawyers must meet and inspire others to uphold because it is a self-regulating profession. Clearly, one should not underestimate that the legal profession is built on networking, mentoring, and developing others, referring clients to other lawyers. Finally, the legal profession is also about formal and regulated relationships with the stakeholders in the justice system such as clients, other lawyers, and judges. Those relationships underline how parties resolve disputes via negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation.