The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Mélanie Raymond

Access to justice

Plain language: Designed to empower the users

By Mélanie Raymond November 23, 2018 23 November 2018

Plain language: Designed to empower the users

 

Plain language isn’t just a buzzword. When well analyzed and properly planned, it can be used to give parties in a legal proceeding more power. “It’s about making sure people have some control” stresses Susan Kleimann. The CEO of Kleimann Communication Group made these remarks at a presentation in October at Montréal organization Clarity’s conference dedicated to promoting the use of plain language.

After 2009’s foreclosure crisis rocked the American economy, Susan Kleimann was tasked with reviewing the government mortgage form that prospective homeowners are required to fill out. “The statistics on the crisis were well known, but behind them hid a great deal of human suffering,” she says. “We were asked to prevent a repeat of the situation by helping expose the contract traps.”

They didn’t want to be paternalistic. After all, some customers were interested in high-risk products. They wanted to make sure of three things: that people truly understand the details of their mortgage, that they are able to make comparisons; and that they make informed choices.

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The profession

If you lose, you win

By Mélanie Raymond October 4, 2016 4 October 2016

I have a group of women friends, whom I originally met professionally, and I like them a lot. We get together once every season. I call them “my gang of losers.”

They didn’t really appreciate it when I revealed my pet name for them, one night over dinner when a bit too much wine was consumed. I tried to explain to them that this was a tribute, but I’m still not sure I didn’t hurt their feelings.

The thing is, what I especially like about these professional women is that they dared to deviate from the well-beaten path. They explored disciplines other than those they had originally studied, dared to enter an environment whose codes they didn’t know, tried to be different, took the trans-disciplinary plunge.

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The practice

On the importance of process

By Mélanie Raymond June 14, 2016 14 June 2016

It was one of my first court appearances. I was there to contest the discharge of a bankrupt on grounds of fraud. The bankrupt in question came from a South Asian country, and I had heard rumours of corruption in his community. What it boiled down to was that some people were being forced to pay to come to Canada by charging up debt on numerous credit cards and then declaring bankruptcy.

He was there with his brother and he understood nothing of the proceedings. At first he thought that I was the lawyer the government had assigned to him. Fearing I might be accused of misleading him, I made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that I was working against him, then I strove to explain the process to him.

The result: I won my case, his discharge from bankruptcy was delayed, and I left with a heavy heart.

My motto was “the end justifies the means.” I was 23 years old, I wanted to change the world, and I did not understand how I would manage to do it in my new position as an insolvency lawyer. Especially since it was because of me that this man, who was in a precarious situation, now had to work even longer before he would get a second chance.

A few months later, while I was picking clementines at the fruit market, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was him, the man from the bankruptcy case, with his wife and children, all lined up by height, like the Von Trapp family. He was ready to give me my first big lesson as a jurist.

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Diversity

Reasonable people in parallel universes

By Mélanie Raymond April 8, 2016 8 April 2016

 

It is a cliché to say that we live in an environment that is becoming more and more diverse. However, we are also evolving more and more within our own personal world.

Our reference points are different, our borders have changed. We communicate, almost in real-time, with people located on the other side of the world. We often have more in common with a friend living in London, England, or a business acquaintance in Abu Dhabi, than we do with our cousin who lives in Elmira. We draw our information from different sources located all over the planet. We may follow a vegan recipe blog by Julia, in Oregon, or a fly-fishing forum by Jürgen, in Sweden.

But we have chosen these influences. And if we like them, it is because they make us feel safe. They are “exotic,” but they don’t take us out of our comfort zone.

The same can be said of our local Indian grocer, who has his own reference points, or of my famous cousin in Saint-Zéphirin, Qc. Side by side, we evolve in our parallel universes. And each of us believes that everyone else shares our thoughts, because our circle of acquaintances, whether flesh and blood or virtual, have essentially the same concept of life as we do.

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The practice

How to choose a mediator

By Mélanie Raymond March 21, 2016 21 March 2016

When someone wants to hire a mediator, the first instinct is to turn to a recognized expert in a specific legal sector or a former judge. Although this can be the tried and tested way of doing things, it won’t guarantee a successful outcome. Before making your choice, ask yourself what kind of results you are hoping for.

There are many styles of mediation and mediators, and they produce different results.

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Mélanie Raymond has a decision-making role at an administrative tribunal. She is also interested in diversity issues, and in dispute resolution and avoidance. / Me Mélanie Raymond occupe un poste de décideure dans un tribunal administratif. Elle s’intéresse aussi aux questions de diversité et de prévention et règlement des différends.

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