I’m excited to share with you all a new resource RSI put together for court ADR programs. Curiosity and self-reflection tend to be self-selecting criterion for successful mediators, so it’s not surprising that mediators often crave feedback about their performance and how they can improve. Fortunately for courts, that’s a great instinct, and one that should be nurtured through the use of a structured process whenever possible. To these ends, we at RSI put together some tools for program administrators to utilize in developing a peer-based review support system.
Peer review is a great way for mediators to develop new skills: as long as proper oversight exists to make sure bad habits aren’t proliferating, mediators can learn a tremendous amount from one another. Implementing a peer review system also has the added benefit of galvanizing a community of mediators. Perhaps most beneficially, peer review can function as quality assurance to ensure that the services people receive aren’t a form of second-class justice. Programs that serve self-represented, indigent and other underserved populations may be particularly keen to ensure quality services.
Being conscious of the limited resources courts have, we have put together these resources as a way for you to implement quality assurance
among your mediators without having to reinvent the wheel. We are very grateful to the Illinois Bar Foundation, whose funding allowed us to develop these tools, originally for use in our Child Protection Mediation Program serving Kane County, Illinois. The tools, as published here, have been adapted for general use in any mediation program. Included are:
- A Peer Review Policy, which sets forth goals, procedures and expectations for the program and its mediators
- A Mediator Observation Tool, which provides a tool for peer observers to note the relative strengths of and challenges encountered by the mediator (Note: this tool does not set a standard of performance. Your program would need to determine what you expect of your mediators.)
- A Self-Reflection Tool, which gives the mediator a reference to evaluate and reflect on their performance following the mediation session
I hope you will find this resource a boon to your program. Please share any feedback you may have, as well as any steps your program has taken to support mediator development.