Life feature

There’s No Dispute About The Value Of ADR Ottawa’s Steven Gaon

The Goldilocks Zone.

As in the fairy tale, the one about the enterprising little girl who ventured from chair to chair until she found the ideal fit. That, in effect, is what Steven Gaon has done throughout his long and distinguished career, and why he’s equating where he is now with that magic, climactic discovery: the perfect accommodation. “The firm right now,” says Gaon of ADR Ottawa, the city’s top dispute resolution service, “is just where I want it to be. Mediation is a merit-based business; if you do good work, your reputation flourishes.”

Plus, it’s headed by founder Gaon, whose legal roots run deep. The Montreal-born Gaon’s maternal grandfather was an archetypical mid-century lawyer: a sharp-dresser who smoked a pipe and was hugely respected by his peers. Though his comportment certainly made an impression, it was a proverbial accoutrement, his shoes, that Gaon more comfortably slipped into, becoming a talented and respected lawyer himself. After obtaining a BA at Concordia University and completing the Common Law (JD) program at the University of Ottawa, Gaon, who was called to the Bar in 1987, dived headfirst into litigation. Shortly thereafter, he found his true niche: mediation. Inspired, he eagerly obtained his credentials and began growing his practice as a mediator, arbitrator and workplace investigator. He has gone on to help thousands of people find peace and closure after being embroiled in emotionally and financially taxing conflicts.

Through an impressive legal career spanning decades, Steven Gaon has mediated over 3,000 cases and arbitrated or investigated hundreds more at the helm of ADR Ottawa.

In 2003, the tangible results and positive client reaction to Gaon’s practical, proactive style inspired him to set up a separate line of business: ADR Ottawa. The firm offers a wide variety of dispute and conflict resolution services. These include mediation, arbitration, harassment and administrative investigation, and workplace conflict resolution. The firm works with clients of all sizes, from lawyers to private citizens and companies to government and non-governmental institutions.

This year, Gaon celebrates 20 years as ADR’s owner and President. While it’s a proud achievement, it’s not his only tenure at the top of a mountain. Gaon also enthusiastically served as President of the CCLA (County of Carleton Law Association) between 2015 and 2016, helping the board make positive strides for Ottawa’s legal community.

While Gaon continues to spearhead ADR, he’s also busy grooming the next generation of mediation talent. He’s an adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, teaching a first-year dispute resolution and ethics course and an upper-year mediation course and does private mentoring.

His advice to aspiring lawyers? “Find an area of practice you find inspirational. Second, find employment with a good firm that specializes in that area; hone your skills until you become an expert. And third, market yourself.” That last point is especially important. Building a successful practice like ADR takes expertise, vision, and sweat equity—but it’s also a matter of making the right connections, which can necessitate a self-operated spotlight.

As for business owners battling uncertainty about accessing mediation services, the sage and extending Gaon has words for them too, particularly if they’re navigating the legal system for the first time. “Hire the right people,” he emphasizes. “If it’s a business law issue, hire a skilled commercial lawyer. If you get involved in a lawsuit that’s headed to a hearing, hire a civil litigator who specializes in the appropriate area of law. Whatever you do, don’t represent yourself.”

And with ADR Ottawa ready to prove that they’re the right fit for your needs, why would anyone?

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