Resources / Study / Innovation for Court ADR

Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Model Mediation Surveys Are Now Available

Jennifer Shack, April 6th, 2016

I’m so happy to introduce the Model Surveys, a toolkit that enables court-connected mediation programs to obtain reliable data. The toolkit includes post-mediation surveys for parties, attorneys and mediators, as well as a mediator report. The surveys are all annotated, with explanations for the rationale for each question and discussion of the wording. The toolkit is rounded out with advice on how to use and modify the surveys.

The whole idea behind the project is that courts and their associated programs often don’t have the necessary resources to obtain good information about program functioning. In RSI’s experience, the courts’ biggest need was for well-designed participant surveys and set out to develop them in collaboration with the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution and with the help of a fantastic group of nationally-known experts in ADR research and program administration. (more…)

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

Eric Slepak-Cherney, 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…)

Charting Familiar Territory: Illinois Foreclosure Mediation Programs

Mary Rose Richter, August 7th, 2015

Since I began my internship at RSI, I have embraced the organization’s mission of enhancing court ADR systems through program development, research and access to resources. I have worked on a variety of projects regarding different aspects of the RSI mission and have learned that in order to create new resources, a great deal of time and effort must be put into careful analysis and in-depth research of reliable information.

Over the last month, I focused my time and effort into creating a new resource: a full chart of the Illinois foreclosure mediation programs. Foreclosure mediation, which helps homeowners effectively communicate with lenders about their homes, is one specific area of court ADR in which RSI is deeply involved. RSI has been providing research and resources on foreclosure mediation programs since the housing crisis started and has successfully developed and now administers three foreclosure mediation programs in northern Illinois.

Currently, Illinois has a total of eleven foreclosure mediation programs throughout the state (below, you will find individual charts, or “snapshots”, for each of these programs). (more…)

What “Mandatory” Really Means in Foreclosure Mediation

Susan M. Yates, July 13th, 2015

There is a lot to be learned by reading RSI’s evaluation of the foreclosure mediation programs that are supported by a grant from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. The evaluation, which was conducted and written by RSI’s amazing Director of Research, Jen Shack, is comprehensive, well-reasoned and insightful.

One thing that struck me is how the various programs use the term “mandatory” to describe mediation services. When I think of mandatory participation in mediation, I think of the typical family mediation program for contested child-related issues in which parents must attempt mediation (barring certain disqualifying factors) or the court will not move forward with their case. In foreclosure mediation, some programs call themselves mandatory, but court rules impose no negative consequences if the homeowners do not try mediation. (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?