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Jerry Genge – Why an Engineer Sought out a Dispute Resolution Program

December 21, 2022

Roz Bahrami

The 2021 intake of Part-Time Professional LLM students includes diverse professional backgrounds – from lawyers to senior project managers to corporate directors. Geographically, our students are spread out across Canada (though there are a few from outside of Canada as well!). Today, we’re focusing on the subject of Dispute Resolution

We’re following our students’ success journey from their time of admission, checking-in with them during their studies, and again after convocation.  

Join us as we dive into their stories. 

Meet: Jerry Genge

Gerald (Jerry) Genge has successfully managed to intertwine over 40 years of experience as a professional engineer in building construction with dispute resolution. He is currently a student of OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Dispute Resolution program.

About Jerry

When you think of a dispute resolution program, engineering is probably not the first industry that comes to mind. However, Gerald (Jerry) Genge has successfully managed to intertwine over 40 years of experience as a professional engineer in building construction with dispute resolution.

He is a Chartered Arbitrator, a Qualified Mediator, and a sought-after expert witness.  He has made numerous appearances at tribunals and courts and has chaired a Property Standard Appeal Tribunal for over 30 years. He is an ODACC and CAT Adjudicator and a prolific writer on the subjects of building engineering, dispute resolution, and contracts.    

By taking the Dispute Resolution program, Jerry aims to demonstrate that he is as much a dispute resolution specialist as he is an engineer. He is a strong proponent of cost-effective dispute resolution guided by subject matter experts.

He intends to combine his existing expertise with his learnings from the LLM and apply it to his practice. More specifically, using it to offer forensic arbitration of engineering, construction, and professional negligence claims. 

Jerry’s Experience so Far…

How does your experience in the Professional LLM in Dispute Resolution compare to your expectations at the time of applying?

I anticipated there would be a reading and writing-intensive program ahead of me, so I was prepared for that. Despite my engineering background, I have essentially earned a living by writing reports based on a forensic analysis of facts. I quite enjoyed and did well in the writing aspect of the course. However, what I could not predict was how the papers could be so varied in style. That was a wonderful surprise!

In general, I knew I was in for a lot of work particularly because I wanted to complete the program in 15 months on an accelerated path. Although I found that the more I worked on the course materials, the more I enjoyed the work.

As a non-legal professional, how challenging have the legal matters/topics been in your program so far?

The mandatory Introduction to Dispute Resolution course intended to quickly bring us up to speed on the basic principles of law-making, the judiciary, and the history of law in Canada, was a bit intense at the outset, but not so much that it was not engaging. It is most certainly a necessary part of the accelerated start of this program.

What advice would you give to prospective non-legal professionals who are looking to apply to a Professional LLM program?

  1. Make sure you have set aside the time for reading, writing, and participating in class – then double it. This is not a simple show up to the online program and get a certificate.

2. Have a plan. When you choose a specialty, look at the details for all of the courses – when they are offered, who is instructing, and how it all fits together with your reasons for pursuing an LLM.

3. When writing papers for your classes, draw on your own experiences as much as possible, this will make your writing clearer and more personalized.

What courses have you found to be the most rewarding so far? What makes them so great?  

ALDR 6309 – Advanced Conflict Resolution was the winner for me. Both instructors are rock stars in the field, and both found ways to engage the class, despite it being online.

The Major Research Paper (MRP) gave me an opportunity to crystalize my plan moving forward from the LLM. As an engineer/expert witness, I see that the success of dispute resolution over the past 30 years has effectively eroded the need for expert witnesses. I was able to use the MRP to lay out a path for retreading expert witnesses so that they can remain an integral part of dispute resolution. It is a plan to champion for as long as I am working.

Has the program helped you in your professional journey in any way so far? If so, how?

After 47 years as a practicing engineer, owner of engineering practices, and CEO of three practices, the time came to begin a new chapter. For me, that new chapter was not retirement. I had always planned to complete my career as an adjudicator/arbitrator. However, I found that lawyers, who are the conduit to clients, leaned towards working with ADR professionals that are also lawyers. I heard about the Osgoode Professional LLM through the professional development short courses and was intrigued. It wasn’t until March 2021 that I committed to pursuing an LLM.

I’ve already begun to see returns as past lawyer clients are realizing that I have additional skills to support their clients’ early and cost-effective resolution of claims.

Moreover, I have started a practice, Genge Construction Adjudications which is seeing real traction!

What’s Next for Jerry?

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