Outstanding Women in Law 2015
Outstanding Women in Law 2015 Lilja Bjarnadottir is a lawyer and founder of The Road to Resolution, an Icelandic consulting firm which specialise in dispute resolution. We spoke to her to find out more about her strategy and how she consistently delivers for her clients.
Company: The Road to Resolution Ltd. (Sáttaleiðin ehf.) Name: Lilja Bjarnadóttir, founder and CEO Email: Lilja@sattaleidin.is
The main focus of our firm is mediation, but we like to pride ourselves in giving quality advice on conflict resolution and problem solving in general. We also emphasise the importance of preventive measures and offer both individual conflict coaching and seminars for workplaces. Our goal is to find the right path for each case to resolve conflicts and disputes so that everyone can walk the Road to Resolution. When it comes to dispute resolution, I have always had a passion for problem solving and after specialising in dispute resolution at University of Missouri, I discovered my passion for mediation. The Road to Resolution focuses on alternative dispute resolution in the corporate setting, which I believe is sometimes too quickly overlooked here in Iceland. We specialise in mediation and work with companies when there are internal communication problems or in the case of disputes between companies when they want to avoid litigation. We are constantly evolving at The Road to Resolution because part of having the best service is making sure that it stays relevant to our clients. Therefore we make sure that we are following the latest developments in our field. Personally, I love learning new things and like to keep up with the most recent literature as well as developing my skills by attending lectures, seminars and international conferences. Since the field of business mediation in Iceland is so new, we like to look to what firms in other countries are doing well and implement that to better serve our clients. Providing the best service is at the heart of everything we do and is even evident in the company name. The Icelandic name for The Road to Resolution is Sáttaleiðin, and our slogan is “A way to solution” (leið til lausna) because our goal is to always find the best possible solution for any client. Even though the company specialises in mediation, we know that the process isn’t what matters to the client; it is the solution and how it makes them feel. When you are in a dispute, it tends to consume you and often becomes a big aspect of your life, your thoughts and energy. Therefore, even if the dispute at hand may seem trivial to others, there is always a lot at stake for our clients. In order to ensure that our clients are in the safest hands possible, we show sincere interest in helping them and emphasise the importance of understanding their needs and wants. In this way we hope to create a bond of trust with our clients so that they feel safe to let us help them and get to the real source of the problem.
96 Acquisition International - November 2015
What really makes us unique is that we are the first and only company in Iceland that specialises in business mediation. Mediation is very rarely used in business in Iceland, so companies are used to selecting other alternatives. By providing a forum for creative problem solving and a process that is both productive and less adversarial and hostile than litigation, the Road to Resolution has taken a clear path to distinguish the firm from other competitors. One of the major challenges of mediation in Iceland is that it is not widely spread and the work that has been done in the field has been mostly in family and divorce mediations. Workplace mediation is entering the market as a new approach and therefore the biggest challenge has been to introduce mediation to companies and present mediation as a better way to resolve disputes. In return we get to be a part of shaping the future of mediation in Iceland, which is a wonderful and exciting opportunity. After studying in the United States, and seeing first hand all the benefits that mediation can bring, I knew that I wanted to work on implementing mediation into the Icelandic business life. That is why I founded The Road to Resolution. From my experience, workplace conflicts and corporate disputes can be both stressful and harmful for relationships. Furthermore, the consequences of on-going disputes can be even more dramatic in such a small community like Iceland, with only 330.000 people, because you are bound to run into people again or have to do business with them in the future. Offering a solution that is more amicable than litigation, and giving people a way to address problems and the real source of the conflict is something that we hope to implement into the corporate culture here in Iceland. As an entrepreneur in the field of business mediation in Iceland, I feel it is important to give back and be involved in teaching and coaching to continue to increase the awareness of mediation. Our plans for 2016 and beyond are to expand our range of services and we are also excited to expand our client base internationally and work more in the field of cross-cultural dispute resolution, which I feel is a very important aspect of today’s ever increasing international community.