RSI's Director of Research Jennifer Shack is one of the foremost court ADR researchers in the field. The following are program evaluations she has conducted for court mediation programs that handle cases ranging from foreclosure to trademark and small claims to child protection.
Saving Homes, Building Understanding: An Evaluation of the Eight Foreclosure Mediation Programs Funded by the Illinois Attorney General
Jennifer Shack, Resolution Systems Institute, 2018
This final evaluation of eight foreclosure mediation programs with very different service delivery models follows up the initial evaluation published in 2015. The programs were assessed on participation rate, the percentage of eligible and participating homeowners who were able to retain their homes, completion rates, the amount of time cases spent in the program, and the experience of participating homeowners at each stage of the process. Each program was evaluated individually and all eight were compared on these measures.
The findings from this evaluation supported those from the first evaluation. It, too, found that participation is greater in programs in which the homeowners are told to appear for their initial session and given a date and time to do so, as well as in programs in which the homeowners learn one-on-one how the program can help them. Homeowners with attorneys are more likely to complete the program, but they do not have a greater probability of saving their home. Homeowners also benefit from a second opportunity to participate. Among other findings are that the programs are providing a just process and are viewed positively by most participants.
To access an overview of the evaluation, read the Executive Summary.
To access a digital summary of the evaluation, click here.
For the Full Evaluation, download PDF.
Six Programs, Six Models: An Evaluation of the Foreclosure Mediation Programs Funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2015
This evaluation of six foreclosure mediation programs with very different service delivery models provides ample evidence that program design has a significant impact on the functioning of a program. The programs were assessed on participation rate, the percentage of eligible and participating homeowners who were able to retain their homes, completion rates, the amount of time cases spent in the program, and the experience of participating homeowners at each stage of the process. Each program was evaluated individually and all six were compared on these measures. The study found that participation is greater in programs that are easier to enter and in which the homeowners learn one-on-one how the program can help them, that homeowners benefit from a second opportunity to participate, that housing counseling and legal services improve outcomes and that all programs are providing a just process.
The Executive Summary provides a quick overview of the evaluation.
- For the 6th Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
- For the 16th Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
- For the 17th Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
- For the 19th Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
- For the 20th Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
- For the 21st Judicial Circuit Extract, click here.
For the full evaluation, download PDF
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2014-2017
RSI has been reporting quarterly statistics for the several foreclosure mediation programs funded by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. These reports include case outcomes from each program's launch and a comparison of each program's participation rate, outcomes and time spent in the program. Since each program follows a different service delivery model, the report includes a summary of each program along with their individual statistics. The data is also presented comparatively across the five programs. Although there is no analysis of the data, the report does provide insight into the impact of program design on program effectiveness and efficiency.
- December 2017
- June 2017
- December 2016
- June 2016
- March 2016
- December 2015
- June 2015
- December 2014
- June 2014
Improving an Effective Program: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Child Protection Mediation Program
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2018
In Washington, DC, child protection mediation is mandatory at the outset of a case. Natural parents, their attorneys, a government attorney, the children’s attorney and the social worker meet with the goals of making progress on the legal issues in the case, services for the parents and children, and visitation. The court was interested in understanding the benefits mediation in this program provides to the case and to the parents, what impacts it has on whether a parent stipulates to the facts of the case, their compliance with services and the time it takes for a child to have a permanent home.
To meet the court’s needs, RSI’s evaluation was comprehensive, involving both process and outcomes, and quantitative and qualitative data. The evaluation included focus groups of the professionals who participate in mediation and mediators, interviews with parents and judges, mediation observations, and examination of court and program data from two time periods: all cases filed in 2013-2014, and cases mediated from April through October 2017.
The evaluation found that the program was effectively achieving its goals, including increasing the probability of a parent stipulating prior to trial, enhancing parents’ understanding of their responsibilities and of others’ perspectives, enhancing professionals’ understanding of the parents’ situations and the perspective of others at the table, and making progress on the issues in the case.
Although the program is effective, the professionals and mediators were frustrated with aspects of the process. Using the focus group discussions, judge interviews and staff insights, as well as case and mediation data, the evaluation led to a number of recommendations to improve the program process.
Access the Full Evaluation here.
Access the Executive Summary here.
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2010
This evaluation examined the process, outcomes, and participant experience of the mediation program over a one-year period. The study included data from 164 cases referred to mediation, as well as interviews of mediation participants, judges, attorneys and program staff.
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2008
Official court statistics were showing a sharp decline in the use of mediation for large civil cases in the 17th Judicial Circuit. Believing more mediation was occurring than was being reported, the court requested a study to find out.
Over the course of a year, judges tracked cases in which settlement was stipulated. Lawyers and mediators were then surveyed to discover if the cases were mediated. The study found that more than twice as many and perhaps more than three times as many cases were mediated in the study period than had been reported to the court.
Civil Case Mediation Program for the a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Western Division): Interim Evaluation*
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2004
This is an evaluation of the first year of a court-ordered mediation pilot program. The program operates in Rockford, Illinois, the seat of the Western Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The evaluation looked at referral rates, settlement rates, satisfaction, and perceived cost savings to litigants. It found that on the whole the program is operating as planned and that those who have participated in it tend to view it favorably. However, referral rates are lower than expected.
An Evaluation of the Second Judicial Circuit of Illinois Pilot Judicial Mediation Program for Custody and Visitation Disputes in Crawford, Edwards, Lawrence, Richland, Wayne, and White Counties*
Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2006
This study examines the outcomes of the first 15 months of the Second Judicial Circuit's judicial mediation program for custody and visitation disputes. Included in the report are the issues mediated, the resolution rate, time spent in mediation, the parents' perception of their experience, and the mediator's perceptions of the process.
An Evaluation of the Lanham Act Mediation Program - U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois*
Susan M. Yates and Jennifer Shack. Resolution Systems Institute, 2000
This study looked at court records and survey data to determine: 1) the actual number of mediations being done in the Lanham Act Mediation Program and 2) attitudes of lawyers and neutrals toward the program and toward mediation in general