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Archive for the ‘People & Events’ Category

RSI Hosts Expert Summit on Screening for Intimate Partner Violence Prior to Mediation

Eric Slepak-Cherney, July 18th, 2019

On June 11, RSI convened a summit of experts in mediation, family law and intimate partner violence (IPV) to help us explore whether and how a tool, such as a website or app, could improve the frequency and quality of mediator screening for IPV prior to mediation. Generally, IPV screening is intended to ensure parties will be safe while coming to, participating in and leaving mediation and also ensure there has not been coercive control that would impede a party’s ability to exercise self-determination in mediation.

Unfortunately, screening is not practiced universally by mediators and approaches to screening vary widely. While some mediators employ sophisticated screening techniques, many mediators do not screen, or rely on factors such as whether an order of protection has been filed to determine whether to mediate. This means some mediators may not uncover critical information and may risk re-victimizing survivors and empowering abusers.

The group of Chicagoland-based and national experts spent the day digging into questions such as whether potential downsides outweigh likely benefits, who would be the audience for this kind of tool and how it might function. One critical question in this project is whether a tool like this is a good idea, or will its potential misuse outweigh its benefits? Overall, the group of experts was positive about the tool while also raising a number of important issues that would need to be considered in developing it.

One major theme was the role the tool could play in increasing mediator knowledge, especially about IPV, how to screen and what to do with the results. The experts valued the idea of giving mediators a thoughtful dialogue guide that would empower them to explore issues around safety and coercive control. They stressed that a tool could be very beneficial if it guided the mediator through the screening process and also provided information, such as how to refer a party for IPV services. Conversely, the group raised concerns about whether a tool could provide sufficient training for mediators to use the tool responsibly.

Relatedly, the group also discussed the usability of the tool. Ultimately, they wanted to create something that a large number of mediators would use, particularly those who are new to mediating family cases or do so on an infrequent basis. A chief concern centered on how long and robust of a guided experience the tool should provide. Finding a balance between making sure a mediator has comprehensive conversations with all parties, on the one hand, and making the guide concise enough that mediators actually use it, on the other, will be a key challenge.

Having identified some of the challenges and barriers, the group brainstormed some features that the tool could employ to address these challenges. Access to resources for the participants would be greatly beneficial, as would educational videos for the mediators. The experts were keen on using visualizations, such as radar charts, as a way to summarize and map participant responses, and identify particular areas of concern.

These are but a few of the takeaways from this informative and collaborative event. RSI is in the process of developing a full report that will summarize the consensus for developing such a tool, and lay out the steps that would be needed to make this tool a reality. RSI sincerely thanks all of the experts who volunteered their time to provide their thoughtful insights, and the FIRST Fund for their support of this project.

                           Images from RSI’s IPV Screening Summit.                                   Photos taken by Gahyun Kim and collaged by Nicole Wilmet.

Happy Resolution Systems Institute Day!

Nicole Wilmet, July 11th, 2019

Today we are celebrating Resolution Systems Institute Day!

On this day last year, during our summer staff gathering in Rockford, Matthew Flores presented RSI’s Executive Director Susan Yates with a Proclamation signed by the City of Rockford Mayor Thomas McNamara declaring July 11, 2018 as Resolution Systems Institute Day!

In 2013, RSI received a grant from the Illinois Attorney General to incubate foreclosure mediation in Illinois through August 31, 2018. Over the course of five years, these programs served nearly 5,000 homeowners, and kept 1,100 people in their homes. In 2018, RSI’s Director of Research Jennifer Shack completed her final evaluation of the programs, which you can read here. RSI is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the 17th Judicial Circuit and thanks Mayor McNamara for making July 11th a day we will always remember!

Matthew Flores, Assistant City Attorney for the City of Rockford, presents Susan Yates, RSI’s Executive Director, with a proclamation declaring July 11, 2018 as Resolution Systems Institute Day!

My Favorite Resource Featuring Sharon Sturges

Nicole Wilmet, July 2nd, 2019

Our series My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite ADR resources. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with Sharon Sturges, Director of the Colorado Judicial Branch Office of Dispute Resolution, to learn about her favorite resource.

NW: What is one of your favorite ADR resources?

SS:   As the administrator of a statewide court ADR program, my favorite resource is the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) website and publications.  NCSC is a trusted go-to resource for all things state courts. Lately, I have been immersed in such far-ranging topics as user-centered design, behavioral nudging, and online dispute resolution. I can always count on NCSC for already having looked at these topics, which they have!

NW: Why do you value this particular resource?

SS: No other institution understands state courts and emerging topics as well as the NCSC with its vast network of experts on such a wide range of topics facing state courts today. If they do not know about a topic, the NCSC is wonderful at finding an expert who can help with whatever challenges I face as an ADR administrator. NCSC publications are first rate and provide me with information on what other states, institutions, and researchers are up to. Also, they are accessible!

NW: How did you first learn about this resource?

SS: When developing my Masters in Public Administration Capstone project.

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

SS:  Any conference sponsored by NCSC, they are quality events!

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 Nicole Wilmet at nwilmet@aboutrsi.org!

RSI Celebrates 24 Years!

Just Court ADR, April 23rd, 2019

Happy birthday to us! On April 22, 2019, RSI celebrated its 24th year of operation!

Thank you to all our staff and supporters for everything you do to make RSI so great. We appreciate your continued support. We look forward to continuing to serve the court ADR community.

RSI Board Member Alyson Carrel Presents at Court-Annexed Mediation Seminar

Nicole Wilmet, March 28th, 2019

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.