Family Court Online Dispute Resolution for Thinly Resourced Parents, Courts and Communities: Impediment, Improvement or Impossible Dream?, a 2022 report supported by the JAMS Foundation
Susan M. Yates
Susan Yates has been Executive Director of Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) since 1997. As RSI Executive Director, she is responsible for implementing RSI's mission of strengthening access to justice by enhancing court alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems. To accomplish this mission, RSI designs court ADR systems, administers court ADR systems, and conducts ongoing monitoring and in-depth evaluation of these systems. RSI's work is undergirded by the organization's national court ADR resource center.
Susan developed RSI from an idea to a nationally recognized organization with a respected Board of Directors and a 13-person expert staff. She is responsible for articulating RSI’s vision and for supporting that vision by charting a strategic path, innovating court ADR processes, developing a diverse funding base and managing a professional staff.
Susan is widely respected for her unique expertise in court ADR. She pioneers new ways for mediation to serve the needs of thinly resourced litigants, courts and communities, while adhering to underlying ethics such as self-determination, confidentiality and neutrality. She has worked extensively in dispute system design, helping courts develop sound programs for cases ranging from small claims to large civil litigation, from divorce to foreclosure. Much of her work focuses on the needs of individuals who do not have legal representation, on ways to serve people who have experienced intimate partner violence, and on the potential benefits and pitfalls of online dispute resolution.
Susan is active on a national level in the dispute resolution field. She served on the Grants Committee of the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR) Foundation from 2019 to 2022 and on the Editorial Board for Conflict Resolution Quarterly from 2003 to 2017. She has served in many positions in the Dispute Resolution Section of the American Bar Association (ABA), including serving as one of the ABA's two delegates to the six-person Joint Committee to Revise the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators. This was bracketed by multi-year terms on the Section Council. She also served on the Association for Conflict Resolution's Taskforce on Safety in ADR, which drafted Taskforce on Safety Recommended Guidance in 2014.
In 2020, Susan was awarded ADR Professional of the Year by the Chicago Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution; in 2016, she was named an ADR Champion by the National Law Journal; and in 2012, she was named an Ambassador by the Association for Family and Conciliation Courts.
Susan is a regular speaker at ADR and bar association events and has spoken internationally. She has authored or co-authored two books, numerous studies and multiple articles. She has written mediation training manuals, designed competency-based training and evaluation instruments, and created specialty mediation trainings.
Susan has mediated employment, foreclosure, real estate, eviction, commercial, juvenile, housing, minor criminal and neighborhood disputes since she began mediating in 1983. She has been an adjunct faculty member in the schools of law at DePaul University, Loyola University and Northwestern University.
Accessing Justice through Mediation: Pathways for Poor and Low-Income Disputants, a 2007 study for the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation
ADR Handbook for Judges, published in 2004 by the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution and co-edited with Donna Stienstra of the Federal Judicial Center
"Designing A System for the Online Resolution of Cross-Border Custody Disputes", a 2018 article published in World Arbitration and Mediation Review Vol. 12, No. 1, and co-authored by Janet Martinez, Colin Rule and Susan M. Yates
Regular contributor to RSI's blog, Just Court ADR