A Database of Court-Related Mediation Program Evaluations
RSI's Mediation Efficacy Studies database brings together evaluations of court-related mediation programs that have been conducted since the 1980s, with the addition of some earlier, seminal studies. The studies evaluate programs that cover a range of case types, including civil, family, small claims, victim-offender, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy and appellate cases.
The evaluations vary considerably in methodology: Some look only at mediated cases; some compare mediated cases with cases that were not mediated; and some examine the impact of mediation on all cases, whether mediated or not.
The evaluations do not all come to the same conclusion. Some find greater satisfaction, time savings and cost savings for mediated cases as compared with non-mediated cases. Some do not. This is partially due to differences in the programs being studied and partially due to the quality of the studies. No matter what the quality of the study, it is important to keep in mind the characteristics of a program when looking at the findings regarding pace, cost and satisfaction.
One clear example is that a study in which cases are referred to mediation early in the litigation process may find that mediated cases are resolved sooner than litigated cases, while a study in which cases enter mediation nearer the trial date may find no difference in time to resolution. These descriptions and the actual studies should be read with a sense of the context in which the programs operate and the context of what makes a quality evaluation.
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