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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Access to Justice and ADR: What Is Needed for Parties to Experience Justice

Jennifer Shack, November 25th, 2015

It seems that a conversation is starting up between Richard Zorza on his blog and RSI’s Director of Foreclosure Mediation Hanna Kaufman about 100% access to justice and ADR. Hanna will be returning with a series of three posts that will focus on how we are addressing access to justice in our own foreclosure mediation programs, so I decided to chime in with a big-picture response.

The conversation has its origins in Resolution 5 of the Conference of Chief Justices, which sets a goal of 100% access to justice for essential civil legal needs and encourages each state to develop a strategic plan to get there. In his latest post, Zorza suggests that as part of this effort, ADR system design focus on triage, consent, the role of the neutral, the use of nonlawyers and outcome measures. I agree with most of these, and see in them the need to fully integrate ADR into the Chiefs’ efforts to achieve 100% access. Read the rest of this entry »

Designing Access: Introduction to a Three-Part Series

Hanna Kaufman, November 19th, 2015

During a recent day of strategic planning at RSI, one of the ideas our staff explored was how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) helps to increase access to justice (ATJ or A2J). This idea is close to my heart; improving the accessibility of our justice system has been a passion of mine for years and has driven my decisions to attend law school, train as a mediator, and ultimately, join RSI’s team. Read the rest of this entry »

Turning Arbitration into a Political Football

Susan M. Yates, November 6th, 2015

Did you read the three articles on arbitration The New York Times published on October 31, November 1 and November 2? They tell a series of horror stories about arbitrations in employment, consumer and religious settings. I was sorely disappointed by them because they continued the trend to politicize arbitration.

This trend toward treating arbitration as political football didn’t just start last week in the Times. For some time now, one side has painted arbitration as bad for consumers because it limits class actions. They contend that class actions tackle the small issues that no individual would litigate. They say they help keep big corporations honest. Another side has said arbitration is good for consumers because it is less expensive and more accessible than litigation. They contend that class actions are bad for consumers because when class action litigation settles, the consumers may receive small gift certificates while the lawyers get big legal fees. See, for example, this article by the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform in response to the Times articles.

Here’s the thing: arbitration is not the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

CA Confidential: How The Latest Challenges to California’s Evidence Code Undermine Mediation

Eric Slepak, November 3rd, 2015

In the world of ADR news, California’s mediation confidentiality provisions are achieving “Kardashian”-like levels of fame at the moment, with a comparable amount of dramatic fireworks to boot. Since 1993, California has included in its Evidence Code provisions which guarantee mediation confidentiality and greatly limit the discovery and admission of evidence procured from mediations. However, between an initiative to rewrite the California Evidence Code and a recent decision in Delaware’s influential Court of Chancery, these protections face a challenge, one that threatens to jeopardize the reliability of mediation as a viable dispute resolution process in the Golden State. Read the rest of this entry »

Fresh Eyes and Bruce Springsteen

Hanna Kaufman, October 15th, 2015

I am in my third month now serving as Director of Foreclosure Mediation for RSI. When I visit our foreclosure mediation programs in Rockford, Geneva and Waukegan now, I get to greet people with “great to see you again” instead of “nice to meet you.” There is a natural sense of relief in knowing which exit to take off of the I-90 to get to Rockford or which side of the train tracks to board to get to Chicago from Waukegan. I remain surprised, however, at how quickly our brains adjust to and anticipate routines and processes after we’ve done something even once before.

This feeling of settling in has clear value for those of us involved in mediation, but it poses risks as well. As experts in our respective roles, we need to remember that not all parties to the process have experienced before what they are now going through. Whether we are mediators delivering our opening statements or program staff people explaining the mediation process, it is important to remember that at least some members of our audience are likely hearing the words we’re saying for the first time. Read the rest of this entry »