april 2016


Model Surveys & Annual Report

This month at RSI, we are excited to share with two projects that we have been working on oh-so-diligently.

The first is our 2015 Annual Report. Last year was a big one for us — our foreclosure mediation programs saved homes; our Six Program, Six Models evaluation shared critical insights; and we were able to expand our mission of strengthening justice through court ADR in a variety of new ways:
  • Design. Developing our new Child Protection Mediation program in accordance with evidence-based principles.
  • Manage. Successfully administering our Foreclosure Mediation programs, as evidenced by the high rates of participant satisfaction with regard to procedural justice and fairness.
  • Evaluate. Utilizing our Six Program, Six Models evaluation and quarterly statistic reports of the Foreclosure Mediation programs to generate actionable insights that can strengthen these programs going forward.
  • Champion. Being a leading voice for smart dispute system design through our Court ADR Connection newsletter, the Just Court ADR blog and articles in a variety of industry publications.
These accomplishments have made us excited for the rest of 2016, and beyond!
One of the 2016 highlights we’ve been most anticipating, and can now proudly announce, is the release of the Mediation Model Surveys! Led by RSI Director of Research Jennifer Shack, in collaboration with the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, a national panel of experts developed and tested the surveys to ensure that court programs across the country can utilize them effectively and at low cost. The surveys track details about the program, outcomes, participant experience and mediator quality.
Along with the survey forms, the toolkit also includes an overview and instructions on how to modify the surveys for specific programs while maintaining their integrity. Each question is annotated, with an explanation of the rationale for the question, the reason it is formulated the way it is, and advice on what to do with the results. It’s our hope that these surveys will prove a huge boon to court personnel who want to better inform the critical decisions they make about their programs.


Florida Legislature Adopts Collaborative Divorce Law

On March 4, the Florida legislature became the 14th state to pass a collaborative divorce law. The Collaborative Law Process Act establishes a “uniform system of practice for the collaborative law system” in Florida. Collaborative law, sometimes called collaborative divorce, is a dispute resolution method that has parties focus on issues rather than litigation, allowing parties to work with one another and even agree to avoid going to court. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on March 24, and it will go into effect this July. To learn more about the research and proliferation of collaborative law, please visit our CourtADR.org Research Library, and select ‘Collaborative Law’ in the Process Type field.


Singapore Mulls New Tribunal and Mediation for Employment Cases

The Singaporean government has proposed to shift jurisdiction for salary disputes to a dedicated Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT). Singapore’s labor agency, the Ministry of Manpower, is looking to establish the ECT to resolve salary disputes for employees whose monthly salary does not exceed 4,500 Singaporean Dollars (roughly $3,400 US) in an expedited manner. The proposal also calls for mediation as an initial step before their cases will be heard by the ECT. More details can be found here.


Litigants with Newly Filed Civil Cases Prefer Third-Party Control

In groundbreaking research, Donna Shestowsky has found that when litigants file their civil cases they prefer that a third party control the process and, to a lesser extent, the outcome of the case. They also prefer that their lawyers present their case or negotiate for them, but they want to be there with them when they do.
Shestowsky’s study, which she describes in, “How Litigants Evaluate the Characteristics of Legal Procedures: A Multi-Court Empirical Study” (U.C. Davis Law Review, February 2016), surveyed 413 litigants to cases filed in three courts. The participating litigants were asked a series of questions about their preferences for a procedure that would resolve their disputes. Shestowsky found that litigants tend to evaluate procedures based on who has control – them or a third party. When deciding on a procedure, they would prefer one in which the third party had control, and, in particular, one in which their lawyer speaks to a third party on their behalf.
Participants least like a procedure in which they speak freely with the other party. Nonetheless, they prefer to be present when their lawyer speaks for them. In terms of the outcome, the ability to veto the proposed resolution represents the extent to which they desire control. Litigants also prefer that the procedure be governed by court rules. They least prefer that they decide what rules will govern the procedure.
Procedural preferences differ on a few variables. Women are less likely than men to want third-party control. Age, too, is a factor. Older litigants are more likely to want to retain control than younger litigants. Those who want to have a future relationship with the other party are also more likely to want to retain control; however, those who had a past relationship with the other party prefer that a third party have control over the process.
Shestowsky notes that her findings can guide those who promote ADR to litigants to do so in a way that is attractive to them. This is particularly true of those promoting mediation by touting the control the litigants retain over their dispute, as well as their ability to speak to the other party.

RSI Board Of Directors

Terry Moritz, President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Marc Becker
Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.)
Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.)
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Brian Roche
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Exec. Director
Bridget Crawford
Mariah Heinz
Hanna Kaufman
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Kristen Sanchez
Jennifer Shack
Eric Slepak, Editor


RSI Hiring in Rockford, IL

RSI seeks a qualified, dynamic individual for our 17th Circuit Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, serving Winnebago and Boone counties. Please see the position description for more information.

Susan Yates Named ADR Champion

Our Executive Director, Susan Yates, was recently named by the National Law Journal as one of their inaugural ADR Champions! We are extremely proud of Susan and grateful to NLJ for the tremendous honor. See the entry for Ms. Yates and all the other dynamic ADR leaders here.

Latest Statistical Report Now Available

RSI has published updated data on our Illinois foreclosure mediation programs. The quarterly report, covering the period up through December 31, 2015, is now available on our website.

RSI Published in Latest Issue of Corporate Disputes

The April-June 2016 issue of Corporate Dispute magazine contains an article by Director of Research Jennifer Shack, “Mediate Early to Improve Dispute Resolution.” The article uses data to challenge conventional wisdom about delaying mediation to gain a strategic advantage. It is the first in a series of three articles aimed at utilizing research to inform corporations and their counsel on the subject of mediation.


Foreclosure Mediation Still Going Strong in Illinois
RSI Director of Research Jennifer Shack reports on the health of foreclosure mediation programs in Illinois in her latest Just Court ADR blog post.

Designing Access Part Two: “Dynamic Triage” in RSI’s Foreclosure Mediation Program in Rockford, Illinois
RSI Director of ADR Programs Hanna Kaufman continues her Designing Access series, focusing on how we used "Dynamic Triage" to make sure that all participants in one of our foreclosure mediation programs got some benefit, even if retaining their home was not a realistic option for them.



Inquiries Welcome

Our CourtADR.org Resource Center is designed to be a self-directed tool that can help programs find the information they need with little assistance. But sometimes the answer to your question is less obvious. When that happens, reach out to info@courtadr.org. We love to help our readers solve their problems, so drop us a line!

 RSI Site

RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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