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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

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Happy Thanksgiving from RSI!

Nicole Wilmet, November 28th, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Resolution Systems Institute!

Today we are grateful for all of our staff, board members, supporters, and court ADR friends nationwide. Thank you for all you do to support RSI! We hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Two New Chapters of RSI’s Guide to Program Success now Available!

Nicole Wilmet, November 27th, 2019

We are thrilled to announce that two new chapters of our Guide to Program Success are now available! RSI’s Guide to Program Success combines the expertise of Executive Director Susan Yates and Director of Research Jennifer Shack and discusses how to effectively design, manage and evaluate successful court ADR programs.

Newly released Chapter 12: Create Your Program Forms addresses how to create forms for court programs and includes a set of exemplary sample forms from courts around the United States. Chapter 13: Launch Your Program, focuses on the successful launch of a court program takes a look at things that court sometimes don’t think about when starting a program.

We hope you find these resources valuable in your work!

Ohio’s Portage County Launches the Nation’s First ODR Program for Foreclosure Mediation

Nicole Wilmet, November 25th, 2019

On November 18, 2019, Ohio’s Portage County launched the country’s first foreclosure mediation online dispute resolution (ODR) program. The program, developed under the guidance of Portage County Common Pleas Court Judge Laurie J. Pittman, uses Court Innovations’ Matterhorn software. A press release for the program indicates that one of the goals of the program is to make the process more accessible to the public by allowing parties to work on their cases remotely. The program’s mediator Benito Antognoli explains that prior to the launch of the online program, the first in-person mediation session between borrowers and lenders often only lasted about 20-30 minutes and required the parties to attend subsequent mediations. Most often, the brevity of this first meeting stemmed from borrowers being unable to fully respond to forms from the lender’s attorney since, due to the nature of the forms, they do not have the required documentation with them. As Antognoli highlights, the difficulty of having to make accommodations and find time to attend additional mediations is often a substantial inconvenience for both parties.

However, with the new ODR program, borrowers and lenders are now able to complete this process remotely. As Antognoli describes, once a borrower has opted-in to the program they will receive an email that invites them to the platform. From there, the lender’s attorney will request various documents from the borrower, which the borrower can now submit online at their convenience. Additionally, the online platform also now allows Antognoli to be involved during the entire process and communicate with the parties regularly. Like the in-person program, the entire online process is intended to take about 90 days from start-to-finish. Ultimately, the press release notes that Judge Pittman’s hope is to expand the use of online mediation and offer ODR programs to parties involved in other types of civil disputes.

Those interested in learning more about the program or accessing the court’s press release, should please contact Antognoli at 330-298-3233.

My Favorite Resource Featuring Alyson Carrel

Nicole Wilmet, October 30th, 2019

Our series My Favorite Resource, features interviews with ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite resources. This month, I spoke with Alyson Carrel, RSI Board Member and Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center on Negotiation and Mediation, to learn about her favorite ADR resource.

NW: What is one of your favorite ADR resources?

AC: One of my favorite ADR resources is the Dispute Resolution Resources for Legal Educators section of the University of Missouri Law School’s Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution website.

NW: Why do you value this particular resource?

AC:  This resource is a one-stop-shop with almost everything a person might need when they take on the daunting task of teaching or teaching a new class for the first time. While some textbooks include a teacher’s manual with a sample syllabus and a set of exercises, not all textbooks do. And even those that do present a single perspective on how best to teach a subject. But this website provides sample syllabi from multiple legal educators across the country (and the world) for multiple courses (including unique iterations of those courses). For instance, there are at least 30 mediation syllabi posted on the website, and another 30 syllabi for more unusual or specialized courses such as “Mediation and Collaborative Lawyering: Consensual Dispute Resolution” or “Introduction to Dispute Resolution in Healthcare.”

NW: How did you first learn about this resource?

AC: This resource is regularly referenced on its corresponding listserv, Dispute Resolution for Legal Educators listserv (DRLE), yet another fantastic resource available through Missouri’s website. The listserv is a place for individuals teaching a Dispute Resolution course in the legal education context to ask questions, provide answers, and share new information and tidbits. (Those interested in applying to the listserv can email and in the body of the email write: subscribe DRLE.)

NW: For those unfamiliar with this resource, what is one part of this resource you wouldn’t want someone to miss?

AC: I would absolutely make sure to check out the Teaching Materials section of the website. I previously described the extensive set of simulations and exercises posted on the site, but you will also find links to other teaching resources compiled by the ABA, Suffolk University and more. Instead of having to remember all the different resources out there, Missouri has gathered them all in one place: Dwight Golann’s “class in a box” provides a folder with simulations, teaching notes and corresponding videos; the ABA has a list of exercises for “lawyer as problem-solver”; and Mitchell-Hamline’s video re-enactments of legal cases involving mediation ethics.

I often receive emails from individuals teaching for the first time, asking me for advice and guidance. The first thing I do is send them to this site. It is simply the best and most comprehensive site for ADR teaching resources.

California’s Yolo Superior Court Launches New Online Dispute Resolution Program

Nicole Wilmet, October 25th, 2019

California’s Yolo County Superior Court has launched a new online dispute resolution (ODR) program to resolve debt and money due cases. The program utilizes Tyler Technologies’ Modria® software and guides parties step-by-step through the small claims process. Parties participating in the ODR program will be required to pay a fee of $25. The plaintiff will be responsible for payment, unless the parties agree to split the cost or the defendant agrees to reimburse the plaintiff.

A brochure for the program notes that the ODR process begins after a plaintiff logs in to the platform and registers their case. Then, the plaintiff will use the platform to make an initial demand to the defendant for an amount they are willing to accept to settle the case before trial. The platform then sends an email to the defendant with the demand, at which point the defendant can agree or provide a counter-offer. In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement during these initial steps, then either party may request a mediator. If both parties agree to mediate, then a mediator will be assigned to the case and the mediator will contact the parties to initiate their confidential online mediation. If the parties reach an agreement during mediation, the agreement will be emailed to the parties for signature. After signing, the agreement is sent to the court and the case is dismissed. However, if the parties are unable to resolve their dispute within 45 days then the case will go to trial.

The court’s website for the program answers questions about the program and includes several informative videos for parties discussing the basics of mediation, how the program works and how to use the Modria® platform.