Wide legal interests boost Gossin's mediation practice

By Staff

In the mid-1990s, Toronto lawyer and mediator Eric Gossin was looking for a change.

He co-founded his own small firm, almost two decades after his call to the bar in 1977, and was also interested in adding a new service to the practice.

“I had begun to tire of the litigation process, which I found could be very wasteful," Gossin says, "and I’d just read Getting to Yes,” the negotiation bible by Roger Fisher and William Ury that became must-read material for those in the burgeoning mediation field.

After training with legendary mediator Alan Stitt and accepting his first retainers to act as a mediator, Gossin realized he had found his calling and the perfect service to add to his firm.

“I’m a peace-in-the-house kind of guy; I don’t like all the fighting, so it really fit with my temperament and the transition felt very natural,” he tells “People would bring me these seemingly impossible cases with their most difficult clients because they thought I was the right person to help them out.”

Almost 25 years on, Gossin is a partner at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a thriving law firm with a solid commitment to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). He puts his success down to his ability to connect with people.

“What I bring to the table are interpersonal skills and the ability to work with clients, and get them to understand different views,” Gossin says. “I like to come at things from 30,000 feet, where you can see the whole picture and where people’s interests lie.

“That gives you the ability to say: ‘Look, there are other things happening here, but you have opportunities to take care of the problem that aren’t strictly within the four corners of the law,’” he adds.

Gossin mediates in a wide variety of legal disputes, including corporate and commercial law, real estate, and even family law and personal injury.

His eclectic interests are reflected in both his professional and personal life, where he dedicates his time as a volunteer to numerous community groups.

A young Gossin initially trained as a teacher, planning to teach science to high schoolers, before applying to law school at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

Following his graduation, he articled at a small downtown firm in Toronto. He hung his own shingle soon after his call the bar and began running a general practice.

“Those were days when people didn’t tend to narrow their area of practice. That idea doesn’t seem to be embraced by young lawyers now in the way it should be,” Gossin says.

It paid off years later when Gossin was establishing his mediation services.

“My broad experience is something I take pride in bringing to the table in my ADR practice,” he says. “If you’ve got a commercial or shareholder dispute involving some real estate law, then I bring an understanding of the whole file.

"I find if you go to a mediator with a very narrow focus, they may or may not appreciate those peripheral things. You don’t need to be an expert in a particular area to be an effective mediator,” Gossin adds.

Aside from his mediation work, Gossin still runs a broad-based practice that takes in estate planning and administration, corporate commercial, real estate and low-conflict family law.

He also heads up SGR’s corporate and commercial law practice and says the partners’ dedication to ADR is so well known that some clients will ask them to intervene when they sense a legal problem is brewing with their own customers or business partners.

“We can help them get through the problem without letting it deteriorate. If you can mediate and resolve it before it gets out of hand, it’s better for everybody. You don’t always have to start a lawsuit,” Gossin says.

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