I cannot believe we are already in the last month of this decade! What a wonderful and full year 2019 has been here at RSI. From court program evaluations to trainings and conferences, we have had a very exciting year and continued to make great strides in serving communities with court alternative dispute resolution! As RSI’s Resource Center Director and Court ADR Connection Editor, I have had the pleasure of sharing each exciting moment with you this year. To culminate 2019, I am looking back on all of RSI’s monumental moments this year.
This year, our Resource Center continued to provide a wealth of court ADR information and we expanded our Research Library with a plethora of new resources, including:
- Four new chapters to our Guide to Program Success!
- Chapter 10: Write Your Court Rules addresses how to write and revise court rules and includes a Guide to Exemplary Rules that highlights model rules courts can turn to for guidance when developing or updating their court rules.
- Chapter 11: Design a System to Track Your Program focuses on how courts can design a system to collect useful data so they know how their program is doing.
- Chapter 12: Create Your Program Forms address how to create forms for court programs and includes a set of exemplary sample forms from courts around the U.S.
- Chapter 13: Launch Your Program focuses on the successful launch of a court program and takes a look at things that courts sometimes don’t consider when starting a program.
- Two new Special Topics including a Special Topic on Online Dispute Resolution and a Special Topic for Program Administrators, as well as a downloadable version of the Community Mediation Special Topic we created with the National Association for Community Mediation.
- Ohio Civil Stalking Mediation Pilot: Final Report, written by our Director of Research Jennifer Shack, is an evaluation examining a program piloted in ten jurisdictions. The evaluation examines mediation outcomes, agreement sustainability, agreement provisions, and the impact of referral to mediation the probability of a full hearing being held.
- Individual circuit extracts from Jen’s evaluation Saving Homes, Building Understanding: An Evaluation of Eight Foreclosure Mediation Programs Funded by the Illinois Attorney General. These circuit extracts summarize the study’s findings or Illinois’ 1st, 6th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th, and 21st judicial circuits.
- Several new studies added to RSI’s Mediation Efficacy Studies database.
- Our 2018 Annual Report: Building on our Foundation, which highlights the tremendous success and organizational growth of RSI in 2018.
We also celebrated growth and several important milestones this year. In February, Alyson Carrel, Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center on Negotiation and Mediation, joined our Board of Directors. In March, Jennifer Shack celebrated 20 years at RSI! In May, RSI was honored with the Association of Family and Conciliation Court’s Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award, which recognizes innovation in court-connected or court-related programs! In August, the Honorable Nancy Katz (ret.), who works with JAMS as a mediator and an arbitrator, joined our Board of Directors. Last, but not least, this month, our program coordinators Olga Ivari and Kevin Malone celebrated six years at RSI! Olga is the Program Coordinator for our Lake County Foreclosure Mediation Program and Kevin is the Program Manager for both our Kane County Foreclosure Mediation Program and Child Protection Mediation Program.
This year, our organization continued to explore ways to serve the court ADR community. Under a planning grant from the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund, we spent time this year studying the current landscape of intimate partner violence (IPV) screening tools. To support this research, in June, RSI convened a summit of experts in mediation, family law and intimate partner violence (IPV) to help us explore whether an online tool (such as a website or an app) could improve the frequency and quality of mediator screening for IPV prior to mediation. The result of our research and findings are summarized in our report, Considering an Online Pre-Mediation Tool to Screen for Intimate Partner Violence: Findings & Blueprint, which explores the gap between “best practices” and reality when it comes to mediators screening for IPV and discusses how technology may help address these deficits.
Executive Director Susan Yates and Director of Research Jen Shack also did a bit of traveling this year, attending and presenting at conferences and seminars across the U.S. In April, Susan and Jen headed to Minneapolis for the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference. While there, Jen presented on what her evaluations of child protection mediation programs in Chicago and Washington, D.C. can tell other courts about how to design programs that are effective, efficient and address the needs of all mediation participants. In October, Susan conducted a series of three seminars on “Building Your Court’s Civil ADR System” at New Mexico’s statewide ADR conference in Santa Fe. In November, Susan and Jen also attended the 2019 International Online Dispute Resolution Form. While there, Jen presented on what factors should be examined when evaluating litigants’ experience of online dispute resolution. If you are interested in learning about how RSI can work with your court program in 2020, send a message to our staff!
Phew! Who knew so much could happen in one year?! As December (and this decade!) nears its close, I know that each of us here at RSI are thankful for a wonderful 2019. We look forward to all that awaits in 2019!