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Archive for the ‘Policy-making’ Category

Mediation Shouldn’t Be More of a Barrier Than a Boon

Susan M. Yates, March 17th, 2017

When it comes to defining mediation, I am not a strict constructionist. As long as a mediation program operates within the ethical boundaries, such as confidentiality, neutrality and voluntariness, which are articulated in the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators, I can agree with a wide variety of approaches.

Unfortunately, sometimes certain entities (e.g., courts, governments, schools, corporations) seem to use the word “mediation” as cover to make a process that is not really mediation appear more palatable. It is worse yet when the purpose of the program appears to be to create a set of hurdles. One of my core principles in mediation system design is that a mediation program should ease the path to resolution, not erect barriers to it.

A program being developed by the City of Concord, California, to address rising rental rates is looks like the latest example of breaking this principle. (more…)

“Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act” Update

Susan M. Yates, October 17th, 2016

The Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act has been finalized by the Uniform Law Commission and the full version with commentary is now available. You can find the final version of the act and other information on it here.

If you want to learn more about the act, the American Bar Association Family Law Litigation Committee is sponsoring a telephonic “roundtable” about it on November 4, at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Eastern. The roundtable is free and open to anyone, including non-ABA members, but you have to register for it using the following link: https://form.jotform.com/62504543364150.

The speakers for the roundtable have all been deeply involved in the creation of the model act. They include Barbara A. Atwood, Chair of the Family Law Arbitration Drafting Committee, Uniform Law Commission; Kaitlin A. Dohse, Legislative Counsel, Uniform Law Commission; and Linda H. Elrod, Reporter for the Family Law Arbitration Drafting Committee, Uniform Law Commission.

The Uniform Law Commission describes the need for the act and its intended results as follows: “States’ laws vary when it comes to arbitrating family law matters such as spousal support, division of property, child custody, and child support. The Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act standardizes the arbitration of family law. It is based in part on the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act, though it departs from the RUAA in areas in which family law arbitration differs from commercial arbitration, such as: standards for arbitration of child custody and child support; arbitrator qualifications and powers; protections for victims of domestic violence. This Act is intended to create a comprehensive family law arbitration system for the states.”

Lessons Learned from Foreclosure Mediation

Susan M. Yates, June 14th, 2016

It is heartening to see that titles of two recent publications include the phrase “lessons learned” as they explore Illinois’ experience with foreclosure mediation. That phrase reflects Resolution Systems Institute’s perspective that we should consistently seek the lessons from current mediation programs to apply to the next ones to be developed. Not surprisingly, RSI staff wrote one of these articles!

These pieces – the one by RSI and the other by the Woodstock Institute – outline four and twelve “lessons learned” respectively. The publications are:

(more…)

A Matter of Degree: If and When ADR Should be Introduced into the Student Debt Conversation

Eric Slepak, December 7th, 2015

Like many of you, we here at RSI have been keeping close tabs on what’s going on with student debt in this country. Perhaps it’s our proximity to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the improving yet ongoing fallout, but the similarities are a little too close for our comfort. Just as homeowners overleveraged themselves on the road to the foreclosure crisis, so too Americans now stand on the precipice of what could be an equally destabilizing student debt problem. As an organization that has made empirical research its bread and butter for over two decades, we are interested in pulling together all the relevant data we can to see if there is an escape valve for this high-pressure bubble.

What’s a little different from our previous research is our timing. Whether it’s been a response to an explosive crisis like the bursting of the housing bubble, or to more subtle issues, like the gradual erosion of access to courts for low-income litigants which has made ADR such an attractive alternative, we’ve come to study dispute system design as a solution to problems well underway. For the first time, RSI hopes to leverage its skills in designing, managing and evaluating ADR programs to provide insight into a situation that has yet to reach its tipping point.

We think America’s student debt industry could be a prime candidate for action sooner rather than later. (more…)

Access to Justice and ADR: What Is Needed for Parties to Experience Justice

Jennifer Shack, November 25th, 2015

It seems that a conversation is starting up between Richard Zorza on his blog and RSI’s Director of Foreclosure Mediation Hanna Kaufman about 100% access to justice and ADR. Hanna will be returning with a series of three posts that will focus on how we are addressing access to justice in our own foreclosure mediation programs, so I decided to chime in with a big-picture response.

The conversation has its origins in Resolution 5 of the Conference of Chief Justices, which sets a goal of 100% access to justice for essential civil legal needs and encourages each state to develop a strategic plan to get there. In his latest post, Zorza suggests that as part of this effort, ADR system design focus on triage, consent, the role of the neutral, the use of nonlawyers and outcome measures. I agree with most of these, and see in them the need to fully integrate ADR into the Chiefs’ efforts to achieve 100% access. (more…)