In March, I reported on a package of ten bills being considered by the New Jersey legislature that would reform the state’s residential mortgage foreclosure process. The bills were built on recommendations from a Special Committee on Residential Foreclosures that examined the state’s foreclosure practices, policies, court rules and legislation and made suggestions for improvement. Since March, a handful of the original ten bills underwent slight modifications and currently, one of the initial bills is still under consideration. At the end of April, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a modified nine-bill package into law. Notably, one of the bills in the package codifies and makes permanent the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program. Additional information about the other bills in the package can be found here.
Our series, My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite ADR resource. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with Robyn Weinstein, ADR Administrator at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, to learn about her favorite resource.
NW: What is your favorite ADR resource?
RW: One of my favorite ADR resources is the New York City Dispute Resolution Listserv (“NYC DR Listserv”). The NYC DR Listserv was created by Professor Maria Volpe, director of the CUNY Dispute Resolution Center at John Jay College. The NYC DR Listserv is an unmoderated listserv that was developed shortly after 9/11 as a way to connect the dispute resolution community. It has since grown into an information hub (in New York and beyond) for those interested in events, issues and concerns of interest to dispute resolvers. The NYC DR Listserv has several thousand active subscribers and those interested in subscribing can do so by clicking here.
NW: Why do you value this particular resource?
RW: The NYC DR Listserv is a powerful way for individuals and organizations to disseminate information about conflict resolution conferences, events, programs, awards, ADR competitions, new initiatives, and various issues that arise in the dispute resolution community. The NYC DR Listserv is an effective resource for those looking for information about trainings, symposia, networking events, and job opportunities. (The job I have currently was posted on this listserv.) Some of the job opportunities are in New York City, but many of the opportunities are located around the world. I also value this resource because many of the members of the listserv are active and passionate about the field.
NW: How did you first learn about this resource?
RW: I first learned about this Listserv while I was a student at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. At the time, I was a participant in the law school’s mediation clinic and was interested in learning about opportunities in dispute resolution.
NW: For those unfamiliar with this resource, what is the best way to use it?
RW: I would recommend signing up for the digest version of the Listserv, as there are several posts daily. Also, as is the case with many listservs, conversation threads can “heat up” resulting in lengthy back and forth discussions. The digest culls together all of the subject lines of each e-mail and makes it easier to skim through the listserv activity and choose the topics that are most relevant to you. Periodically, Professor Volpe sends out annual list of trainings and events, which gives a great overview of the breadth of conflict resolution activity in New York and beyond.
NW: Are there any other resources you enjoy that you would also like to mention?
RW: A burgeoning resource that I also wanted to share is the ADR Inclusion Network. The ADR Inclusion Network is a group of individuals dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in the field of ADR. The network members meet regularly and have begun to compile listings of events, articles and research relating to diversity in dispute resolution. The network also maintains a listserv where members of the network can post events, speaking opportunities, and share information and updates regarding their respective diversity and inclusion initiatives and efforts. Those interested in joining the network may do so here.
If you have a favorite resource you would like to share, please reach out to our Resource Center Director and Court ADR Connection Editor, Nicole Wilmet at email@example.com!
In August 2018, the Supreme Court of Arizona released an Administrative Order authorizing the Superior Courts in both the Pinal and Yuma Counties to utilize an online dispute resolution (ODR) pilot project for family court cases. Both programs are approved to run for 12 months from the date of their implementation. Last year, the Yuma County program launched their program on December 3, 2018, and the Pinal County program recently launched their program on March 25, 2019. Both programs are free to parties and, in most cases, eliminate the need for parties to go to the courthouse. The decision of which cases are eligible to participate in the program are made by each county’s Conciliation Service Departments (“CSD”). According to the press releases for both programs, when selecting cases to participate in the program, the CSD will consider “the issue to be decided and other factors.”
To learn more about each of these ODR pilot programs, this month I spoke with Nicole LaConte, Court Program Specialist at the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts. The vendor for both programs is Court Innovations. After the CSD has identified eligible cases for the program, the CSD then uploads the parties’ information into the platform and the platform sends a notice to the parties inviting them to participate. Once a party agrees to participate, a facilitator is assigned to their case. The facilitators for the ODR program are current members of the CSD staff who are trained court mediators. Aside from learning how to utilize the platform, these facilitators are not required to undergo any specific technology training. The platform is designed so that the communication between the parties and the facilitators is asynchronistic, meaning that parties have 24-hour access the ODR platform. As a result, they can upload materials, communicate, and respond to their court facilitator at their convenience. In Pinal, the platform is designed so that the facilitator can speak to only one party at a time and the court is currently working on adding the ability for the facilitator to speak to the parties at the same time. Additionally, in Yuma, the platform was structured so that the Attorney General can also participate if the parties are deciding something that affects child support.
The program was designed for parties to access the service from their own personal computer or mobile device without having to go to the courthouse. Although similar, one notable difference between the two programs is that the Yuma program will be handling only post-decree cases and the Pinal program will be handling both pre-decree and post-decree cases. The goals for both programs is to broaden litigants’ access to the court and reduce the number of court hearings. To evaluate the programs, litigant satisfaction surveys will be sent out and the court will measure the time to disposition as well as the reduction in court hearings. Since both programs are currently in the pilot stage, there is no information about the programs in either county’s court rules. However, additional information about the programs is available at both the Yuma County ODR program website and the Pinal County ODR program website.
In February, RSI Board Member Alyson Carrel was the featured speaker at the Cook County, Illinois, Law Division Court-Annexed Mediation Seminar. Alyson’s presentation entitled “Bringing Technology into the Mediation Room” generated a lively discussion about online dispute resolution. Alyson’s talk touched on the current role technology plays in our daily lives, how legal practitioners are utilizing technology, and the opportunities for mediators to use technology to enhance their mediations.
Our series, My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite resource. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with Tracy Johnson, Executive Director at the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution, to learn about her favorite resource.
NW: What is your favorite ADR resource?
TJ: While I utilize many resources – including RSI as one of my go-to favorites, I have found my relationships with Georgia’s court professionals through the Georgia Council of Court of Court Administrators and my network of colleagues across the nation through the National Association of Court Management to be valuable sources of information and knowledge.
NW: Can you share an example of when you turned to your network for support?
TJ: Building relationships with court professionals has afforded me the opportunity to see what others are doing, identify potential resources, and help in the implementation of new initiatives. At the most recent NACM conference, I attended a number of sessions on Online Dispute Resolution. I was then able to talk to some of those court administrators of the mentioned programs to get a better sense of successes and challenges and how that might translate for Georgia courts.
NW: In what ways have you found that your network has been better able to serve your needs than a traditional print resource?
TJ: Printed materials are a great resource, but are somewhat limited. My network of court administrators allows me the benefit of picking up the phone and calling my friend in another state to ask specific questions about his/her program. It allows me to build and develop relationships that aid in collaborative efforts.
NW: What do you value most about the input you receive from your network?
TJ: Relationships with court professionals and the benefit of “rubber meets the road” approach to education. The educational programming of these organizations has a practical application component.
NW: How did you develop your network and what recommendations do you have for someone looking to develop their network?
TJ: Attend the conferences – a must for any court professional.
If you have a favorite resource you would like to share in an upcoming edition of our newsletter and on our blog, please reach out to our Resource Center Director and Court ADR Connection Editor, Nicole Wilmet at firstname.lastname@example.org!