A multi-door courthouse was set up in Cambridge, MA, in 1990. In the program, civil cases were sent via referral or, during the evaluation period, through random assignment. Parties paid an administration fee as well as a fee for the neutral's time. Referral led to a mandatory case screening conference, in which the parties learned about the different dispute resolution options available to them and the case screener recommended the use of one of those options. The parties were then allowed to choose one or no option. The evaluation of the program ran from October 1990 through September 1991. It found that of 1041 cases screened, 336 cases selected a dispute resolution process, with the vast majority choosing case evaluation (203) or mediation (120). Most participants were satisfied with the screening process and the dispute resolution process selected, and were more satisfied than those who went through the court process. Mediation had a settlement rate of 63%. Costs, as determined by attorney hours, number of motions, and number of documents filed, were lower for those who went through dispute resolution than those who went through the court process, but not significantly so. There was no difference in time to disposition.
Middlesex Multi-Door Courthouse Evaluation Project: Final ReportLowe, Robert A.; Adams, Lorraine Moore; Keilitz, Susan L.; Walker, Linda L.. Mar. 1, 1992