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Just Court ADR

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Archive for the ‘Program Management’ Category

Designing Access Part One: How RSI Used Outcome Measures to Reach Homeowners in Lake County

Hanna Kaufman, December 21st, 2015

Welcome to my first of three blog posts showcasing how RSI uses our expertise in dispute system design to improve access to justice in the three foreclosure mediation programs we administer. I originally conceived of this series after reading Richard Zorza’s post inviting the legal community, including those working in ADR, to define what 100% access to justice might look like. My introduction to the series provoked a response from Richard, offering several topics for consideration, which then inspired a follow-up to those ideas from RSI’s Director of Research, Jen Shack, who expanded upon his analysis.

One issue both Richard and Jen agreed on was the importance of using good outcome measures to drive program improvements. Richard focused on the need for “accurate, credible, and comprehensive measures” that can be compared across systems, and Jen echoed that “we need to know what works and what doesn’t so that improvements can be made.” Reliable data is RSI’s bread and butter, and it is where we begin this portrait of the 19th Judicial Circuit Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program in Lake County, Illinois. (more…)

Bringing Court ADR Programs into the Courtroom

Kimberly Ackmann, May 8th, 2015

As the RSI foreclosure mediation team continues to incubate foreclosure mediation in Illinois, we have explored a variety of ways to reach out and connect with homeowners who could benefit from our programs’ services. One approach has been to establish our programs’ presence at the courthouses where homeowners are attempting to navigate the foreclosure process. Going to court can be an overwhelming or intimidating prospect for homeowners facing foreclosure. Providing information about available resources like the foreclosure mediation programs can be a great opportunity to connect with homeowners.

As the program coordinator for Illinois’ 17th Circuit’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, I began to explore whether increasing the program’s presence in the courtroom could increase our impact on the community. With this goal in mind, I recently started meeting potential parties at the Winnebago County Courthouse in Rockford. I go over to the courthouse during the foreclosure court call so that I can work directly with homeowners interested in participating in foreclosure mediation. Because I am waiting right outside the courtroom, the presiding judge can refer homeowners into the mediation program and send them directly to me for more information. I am also available to answer more general questions that homeowners or attorneys may have about the program and other area resources. In deciding to increase the presence of the foreclosure mediation program at the courthouse, I looked to other models around the state for ideas about how to proceed. Since instituting my own procedure, I’ve learned more about what can make these efforts most effective. For other programs looking to expand their court presence, here’s what I’ve learned. (more…)

RSI Turns 20!

Susan M. Yates, April 22nd, 2015

Can you believe RSI is twenty years old today? Back in 1995, no one could have predicted that what started as an idea – collect and disseminate reliable information about court ADR in Illinois – would become a nationally-recognized non-profit providing a full array of services in support of quality court ADR.

Indeed, RSI’s life as an independent non-profit is much shorter – not quite two years. We started life as part of Chicago’s Center for Conflict Resolution and spun off in July of 2013. These past two years have seen a dramatic expansion of RSI’s services. In addition to the court dispute system design, program monitoring and evaluation, and online resource center at CourtADR.org that have long been staples of RSI’s work, we are now administering court mediation programs and training mediators.

The motivations that undergirded the founding of RSI continue to steer our work. Chief among those ideas: sharing reliable information about court ADR among court ADR programs can elevate the quality and effectiveness of court ADR services. We are living out that idea with comprehensive monitoring of foreclosure mediation programs administered by RSI and by our program partners. By collecting reliable and accurate data, RSI is able to provide program evaluation that is improving the quality of foreclosure mediation throughout the state.

Want a way to celebrate? Go to RSI’s Razoo site and make a donation! We plan to be around for a lot of double decades to come, so how about some multiple of $20?

Connecticut Evaluates Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

Shawn Davis, March 9th, 2015

In October 2014, the Connecticut Judicial Branch released an evaluation of its Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. The Connecticut study evaluates six years of foreclosure mediation program data, dating from the program’s inception in 2008. As RSI prepares the first evaluation of Illinois’ six foreclosure mediation incubation programs, the earliest of which began accepting cases in December 2013, it’s interesting to review Connecticut’s data and how the program has evolved over time.

Given Connecticut’s six year history with foreclosure mediation, the report is able to explore how homeowners who participate in the foreclosure mediation program have fared over time. This information is very valuable, since the long term sustainability of mortgage modifications, such as those offered through HAMP, have often been called into question. (more…)

Foreclosure Mediation Training in Kane County a Success

Shawn Davis, December 8th, 2014

Kane training pic 2On December 3rd, the Kane County Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program held a training seminar for program mediators and members of the bar. The event was sponsored by Northern Illinois University College of Law and the Illinois Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court. Judge Downs opened the training by welcoming attendees and providing her perspective on how the foreclosure crisis has affected the community and the court. She then shared the impact the Foreclosure Mediation Program has had since it launched almost a year ago. Housing counselors, legal aid and lender attorneys also spoke, describing their roles in the program and the experience of the clients they serve.  Professor Alan Boudreau from NIU College of Law was the final speaker and provided the perspective of the Mediation Program. Professor Boudreau explained how the program’s service providers interact and how the role of the mediator fits into the larger foreclosure picture. All of the presenters remained on-hand for a panel discussion. (more…)