Canadian Lawyer 4Students

Fall 2009

Life skills and career tips for Canada's lawyers in training

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theatre Law as It's 10 a.m. on a Saturday in January and University of Brit- ish Columbia law student Jaime Sarophim is a bit nervous. Her mediation professor just asked the class to use their bodies to ex- press how they felt in a moment of confl ict. It's early in the term and Sarophim doesn't know many of her classmates well yet, but she's a little tired of listening to professors lecture. She's ready for a new style of learning. She stands up, holds her arms out in front of her, then crosses them blocking her face. It's a protective stance. UBC law professor Sharon Sutherland, and some in- novative colleagues, are pio- neering the use of theatrical techniques to teach law. Last year Sutherland launched the online journal Masks, which publishes essays by academics around the world working at the inter- section of law and theatre. Sutherland, 46, fi rst became interested in drama during elementary school when she performed in school plays in Tsawwassen, B.C. But the acting bug didn't bite her. Th e law bug did. By Grade 3, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. Th at goal stayed with her, even as she explored the world of dra- ma. Before earning her law degree from UBC and an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School, Sutherland fi nished a mas- ters in drama and theatre studies at the University of London. She completed BY NAOMI CARNIOL UBC prof uses theatrical techniques to teach the finer points of mediation. visation games, extensively in her mediation course. As an experienced mediator, Sutherland knows fi rst-hand the skills required in dispute resolution, including spon- taneity and an ability to shiſt power imbalances. She feels students develop these skills more quickly when they learn them through dramat- ic games rather than if she lectured from a podium. For example, encouraging students to use their bodies to convey how they felt in a confl ict encourages students to acknowledge the emotion- al aspect of disputes. If you are working in confl ict reso- lution and mediation, "you need to have some ability to deal with the emotional side of it," says Sutherland. Th e drama games give students "a freedom to do it that talk- ing about it doesn't." Now in her pose, Sarophim fi nds herself starting to relax. She's a bit surprised at how quick- ly she came up with something. two years of course work for a PhD in drama at the University of Toronto but never wrote her thesis — opting instead to focus on a legal career. Today, in addition to teaching at UBC, Sutherland practises as a professional mediator and mediation consultant. But the theatre is never far from her thoughts. Since 2004, she has been us- ing dramatic techniques, such as impro- Sutherland tells the students to fi nd classmates who expressed a similar reaction to confl ict. The students, still in their poses, walk around the room examining each other. Soon groups of two, three, or four are formed. The groups are told to silently build a mural with their bodies to express how they felt in confl ict. Soon the room is full of students silently pointing and moving their bodies as they sculpt group portraits of diff erent emotions. C ANADIAN Lawyer 4STUDENTS SEPTEMBER 2009 7

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