Resources / Study / Innovation for Court ADR

Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

“The Big Short”: Meshing the Gears between Micro and Macro Forces that Drove the Housing Crisis

Susan M. Yates, January 15th, 2016

Call it a busman’s holiday, but I went to see “The Big Short” over the holidays. It’s a Hollywood movie about the housing market collapse. It is clever, entertaining, and perhaps most daring for a movie seeking to make money, it is informative.

The thing that struck me most about the movie was the connection of the macro level of economic activity with the micro level. Read the rest of this entry »

Designing Access Part One: How RSI Used Outcome Measures to Reach Homeowners in Lake County

Hanna Kaufman, December 21st, 2015

Welcome to my first of three blog posts showcasing how RSI uses our expertise in dispute system design to improve access to justice in the three foreclosure mediation programs we administer. I originally conceived of this series after reading Richard Zorza’s post inviting the legal community, including those working in ADR, to define what 100% access to justice might look like. My introduction to the series provoked a response from Richard, offering several topics for consideration, which then inspired a follow-up to those ideas from RSI’s Director of Research, Jen Shack, who expanded upon his analysis.

One issue both Richard and Jen agreed on was the importance of using good outcome measures to drive program improvements. Richard focused on the need for “accurate, credible, and comprehensive measures” that can be compared across systems, and Jen echoed that “we need to know what works and what doesn’t so that improvements can be made.” Reliable data is RSI’s bread and butter, and it is where we begin this portrait of the 19th Judicial Circuit Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program in Lake County, Illinois. Read the rest of this entry »

A Matter of Degree: If and When ADR Should be Introduced into the Student Debt Conversation

Eric Slepak, December 7th, 2015

Like many of you, we here at RSI have been keeping close tabs on what’s going on with student debt in this country. Perhaps it’s our proximity to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the improving yet ongoing fallout, but the similarities are a little too close for our comfort. Just as homeowners overleveraged themselves on the road to the foreclosure crisis, so too Americans now stand on the precipice of what could be an equally destabilizing student debt problem. As an organization that has made empirical research its bread and butter for over two decades, we are interested in pulling together all the relevant data we can to see if there is an escape valve for this high-pressure bubble.

What’s a little different from our previous research is our timing. Whether it’s been a response to an explosive crisis like the bursting of the housing bubble, or to more subtle issues, like the gradual erosion of access to courts for low-income litigants which has made ADR such an attractive alternative, we’ve come to study dispute system design as a solution to problems well underway. For the first time, RSI hopes to leverage its skills in designing, managing and evaluating ADR programs to provide insight into a situation that has yet to reach its tipping point.

We think America’s student debt industry could be a prime candidate for action sooner rather than later. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »