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Rhoda I. Dobler, Q.C. | Widdowson Kachur Ostwald Menzies LLP | Calgary, Alberta, Canada

T: 403.930.5767


"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty."

You've been in family law for 25 years. Why is mediation so important to your practice?
The court system is overwhelmed when it comes to family law. They're so overworked, with backlogs for critical decisions about who will live where and immediate financial decisions. Families can't wait two years to get resolution. Subjective factors, like the best interests of the children, do not belong in courts. If you see someone as a victim - and to some degree, the courts do that — then they will be a victim. But in mediation you help families find and see their power, so they can make decisions and come through it.

What is your guiding principle in mediation?
I am a passionate believer in helping people navigate through the chaos of a marital separation to find a solution that will work for themselves and their family. It's like helping someone find their own power. When someone owns their own solution, there is some magic in that moment of personal growth and it is awesome to witness.

That must be very gratifying, when a solution can be reached without expensive years spent in court.
It really is. For every family that reaches their resolution by agreement rather than litigation, that's an achievement for me. Every partnership that dissolves a spousal relationship, but continues in a positive parenting relationship, is to be celebrated and hopefully emulated by others.

Is there a difference between how men and women work through the process?
Men and women don't speak the same language, especially in crisis. Many times the instinct for survival overtakes the ability to see shared interests and connection. Finding a mediator is very personal. It must be the right fit and you must have someone who's going to listen without judgment, and increase the range of options. We help people say what they need to say, and help the other person hear what they're missing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have been a lawyer for 25 years, in a mid-size firm, but I have built my own network of mediation/arbitration referrals. I'd like to continue with a solely mediation/arbitration practice — and be teaching mediation to the next generation of lawyers.

Photographer: Kirstey Jane