What my clients say

He was great – he made a time pressured process manageable and is a pleasure to work with. A huge thank youl!



Bill Cole is a consultant for Nelligan Law, specializing in negotiation, mediation and arbitration.

Bill has represented firefighters, police, airline pilots, healthcare workers, hospitality workers, and many others in collective bargaining as spokesperson, strategist, or general advisor. He has been involved in more than one hundred and fifty interest arbitrations in these sectors, as an advocate or nominee. Bill has extensive mediation experience in both rights and interest disputes. He has also acted as a single arbitrator to resolve internal union disputes in the hotel sector.

Bill is a Senior Research Associate in the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. His research interests include compulsory dispute resolution systems for essential service workers and their impact on negotiation effectiveness. He appears regularly at Harvard’s annual Trade Union School, speaking on leadership, organizational development and negotiations to union representatives from around the world. Bill’s previous research includes a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of mediation-arbitration to resolve collective bargaining disputes in the firefighter and police sectors in Ontario. Bill provides custom training programs for a variety of clients, including medium and large unions across Canada. He is also on the faculty of a joint Harvard-University of Ottawa Executive Leadership Program for Canadian Police Associations.

Bill enjoys exploring theories of negotiating and conflict resolution, and applying that knowledge on behalf of a client. He is passionate about fairness and transparency, and making sure his clients receive what they are entitled to. Bill is focussed on resolving disputes without resorting to a lengthy litigation process, and his depth of knowledge and experience make him a very effective negotiator. He is determined and thorough, and communicates with his clients in a clear and understandable way.

Outside of the office, Bill is a hockey-dad who spends time racing from one rink to another.

  • LL.M., Osgoode Hall Law School (2007)
  • Graduate Certificate, Conflict Resolution (Mediation), Carleton University (2000)
  • B.A. Law, Carleton University (1990)
Professional Activities and Organizations
  • Canadian Industrial Relations Association
  • Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution
  • Law Society of Upper Canada

Authored Posts

Labour Law
Reading time: 2 mins
Asking the Right Questions in Negotiations
Experienced negotiators understand the importance of being well-prepared heading into face-to-face meetings. Thorough preparation is the cornerstone of effective negotiations - it strengthens your bargaining objectives and empowers you to counter those from the other side. Most negotiators will have a laundry list of research: current economic indicators, performance of the company, grievance experience over the last year, just to name a few.
Labour Law
Reading time: 3 mins
Environmental Awareness: The Missing Key to Effective Negotiations
A major challenge for negotiators has always been accurately measuring the effects of the negotiating environment that surrounds them. This was the fatal mistake for leaders of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or PATCO as it was more commonly known in its 1981 round of negotiations.

Practice Groups

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