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Just Court ADR

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Spring 2022: How RSI’s Work Has Expanded and Evolved During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Just Court ADR, May 18th, 2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic has strained finances, families and the social fabric in general, the need for and potential of well-designed alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to stitch together solutions has become increasingly apparent. Throughout this challenging time, Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) has continued to monitor and evaluate new dispute resolution initiatives and developed new court mediation programs of our own. Below is a description of some of our work during the pandemic.

In 2020, as a potential pandemic-driven eviction wave loomed, RSI began to design our first eviction mediation program. In the course of about nine months, we developed the court rules, procedures and forms the program would need to operate. We also recruited a cadre of mediators and provided them with specialized eviction mediation training through our friends at the Center for Conflict Resolution. The Kane County (Illinois) Eviction Mediation Program launched in spring 2021. Later that fall, RSI launched similar programs in Illinois’ Kankakee and Winnebago counties. Overall, our programs operate in judicial districts that serve over 920,000 Illinois residents.

To learn more about RSI’s work over the last two years in the eviction arena, we recommend you check out our blog entries on the topic, as well as our Eviction Mediation Special Topics resource. RSI is now working with Kane and Winnebago counties to bolster their longstanding foreclosure mediation programs as homeowners now begin to feel the squeeze that renters started experiencing last year.

While RSI is spearheading these new program development and administration initiatives, evaluation remains the central pillar of upholding RSI’s mission of improving access to justice. RSI Director of Research Jennifer Shack recently published two reports evaluating the program development experience in Kane County: Eviction Mediation Design and Implementation in Illinois’ 16th Judicial Circuit: Challenges and Keys to Success and Participant Experience in Eviction Mediation: Summary Of Early Survey Responses in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois’ Video Mediation Program.

In partnership with the University of California, Davis, RSI has also evaluated online dispute resolution (ODR) pilot programs in Texas and Michigan. The pandemic generated greater interest among courts for ADR processes that parties could access remotely. The evaluations, which will be released soon, will provide courts with a better understanding of what ODR adoption requires and what possible benefits it can provide.

The last two years have provided many of us, RSI included, with a complex mix of setbacks and new opportunities. RSI is committed to innovating and adapting to meet the challenges that courts, and the litigants they serve, encounter in this ever-changing world. We are grateful to our program partners, our funders and each of you who come to RSI in search of expertise and guidance. We hope you will continue to take this journey with us as we work towards our mission of expanding access to justice through court alternative dispute resolution.

Farewell Nicole

Nicole Wilmet, June 22nd, 2021

It is with bittersweet emotions that we announce the departure of our Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet. Nicole has been with RSI for over four years managing RSI’s website and online Resource Center. We thank Nicole for all of her hard work and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

New Resources Added to RSI’s Resource Center

Nicole Wilmet, June 4th, 2021

Did you know that RSI’s Resource Center is the most comprehensive and respected source of information on court ADR anywhere? Housed within the Resource Center is the Research Library which has an extensive annotated collection of court ADR resources such as articles, studies, court rules, statutes and court forms.


As RSI’s Resource Center Director, each month I add new resources to the Research Library. The following list highlights a few of the resources that have recently been added.

I hope these resources are helpful to you in your work!

Welcome Kim!

Nicole Wilmet, June 3rd, 2021

RSI is delighted to welcome Kim Bernhard as its new Resource Center Intern for the summer. Kim will be working with RSI’s Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet this summer and will have the opportunity to learn about ADR and explore resources related to eviction and restorative justice. Kim joins RSI from Chicago-Kent College of Law where she is a rising second year student. We hope you will welcome us in joining her!

AAA-ICDR Foundation Diversity Scholarship Fund

Just Court ADR, May 3rd, 2021

The American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR) has recently launched a Diversity Scholarship which grants diverse law students and professionals with up to $2,000 of financial assistance towards participation in a degree program or fellowship in alternative dispute resolution or attendance at a well-recognized conference. The mission of the Diversity Scholarship Fund is to encourage diversity and inclusion within the field of ADR by supporting the pursuit of knowledge and skill development through training experiences that encourage inclusive leadership growth in the field of ADR. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed quarterly until appropriated funds are expended.