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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

One-Day Divorce in San Diego Court

Susan M. Yates, July 1st, 2014

I love Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog, especially when he covers programs like the one offered by San Diego, California courts to accomplish divorce in a single day. Zorza cites a New York Times piece to explain how the process works. The divorcing couple files for divorce and reaches agreement on everything: property, debts, child-related issues, etc. Then the couple goes to court and a court coordinator helps ensure they have all the necessary documents and they are completed correctly. With the paperwork in order, the couple can get their divorce the same day.

One of the things that makes this program unusual is that the court provides a coordinator who does not give legal advice, but who does help the divorcing couple ensure their documents are in order and help fill in any missing pieces if needed. Read the rest of this entry »

Values and Interests Revealed in Detroit “Grand Bargain”

Mary Novak, June 24th, 2014

The story of the Detroit bankruptcy mediation’s emerging “Grand Bargain” (as it has been dubbed in the media) is a fascinating case of many different groups working to protect their chosen interests. The bargain demonstrates how mediation allows parties to consider what they are willing to give in order to secure the things that matter most to them, and how traditional rivals may collaborate for a shared goal. Where litigation must have winners and losers, the proposed mediated bargain seeks to avoid that. Instead, it involves a complex balancing act in which many parties give a little to get a little — if “a little” is the right way to describe the potential movement of hundreds of millions of dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

Be Mindful of the Sunk-Cost Bias Trap

Shawn Davis, June 18th, 2014

Just the other day, I learned the term “sunk-cost bias” and immediately thought of the mortgage foreclosure work that I do. The term was new to me, but the concept was not: sunk-cost bias describes why it’s so hard for us to walk away from something and cut our losses (and explains why I spent 3 hours waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland). With sunk-cost bias, our minds go through a process of telling us that we should hold on because otherwise the time, money and energy already invested would be a waste, even when such a decision is irrational and just sinks us further in the hole. The concept can have very real implications for more serious life choices, like whether or not to remain in a home once in foreclosure. Read the rest of this entry »

When It Comes to Mediation, Less Regulation May Be More

Jennifer Shack, June 16th, 2014

You’re a judge charged with overseeing a voluntary civil case mediation program in your court. Because you’ve been monitoring your program, you know that, though 75% of cases going through mediation are reaching agreement, the program isn’t doing much to reduce judges’ workloads because mediation generally occurs very late in the case.  What do you do?

You have at least three options: Read the rest of this entry »

Resolution System Institute’s Evening of Firsts

Susan M. Yates, June 2nd, 2014
Susan Yates and Judge Morton Denlow listen to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

Susan Yates and Judge Morton Denlow listen to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

Last Wednesday was a great evening for RSI! We held our first-ever “friendraising” event and presented our first-ever RSI Appreciation Award. Our generous friends at the Chicago office of the Skadden Arps law firm kindly hosted a beautiful reception for about 60 people. This was our first reception designed to introduce RSI to new friends in the Chicago corporate and legal world. Attendees included lawyers from some of Chicago’s largest corporations and law firms, judges from the counties where RSI conducts foreclosure mediation programs, and RSI’s own Board and staff members, with a sprinkling of local neutrals, funders and others. The two highlights of the program were remarks by the Illinois Attorney General and the presentation of the RSI Appreciation Award. Read the rest of this entry »