Making all the decisions involved in designing a court ADR program can be overwhelming. What kinds of cases should go to ADR? At what point in the case should it go to ADR? Should participation be mandatory or voluntary? What ADR process should we use? Should it be confidential? Who should our neutrals be? What qualifications should they have? The questions go on and on.
RSI sees court ADR program design (also known as dispute system design) as a multi-dimensional puzzle to be solved. (And we love a good puzzle!) We start by helping stakeholders define the goals of the program. For example, a court that seeks to improve relationships among conflicting community members will want a program that is very different from one that wants to resolve trademark cases expeditiously.
We know that different stakeholders may have different goals. Just imagine the difference in foreclosure mediation, for example, between what lawyers for lenders and lawyers for homeowners might want. Their clients – banks, investors, borrowers – are likely to have somewhat different goals. Judges and court staff may have their own goals. Even the neutrals and the ADR program staff will have their own goals.
Once the goals are defined, RSI applies our extensive hands-on experience and knowledge of research. Want to know the pros and cons of mandatory and voluntary participation? How about the ins and outs of balancing a good faith requirement with neutral mediators and a confidential process? How about samples of court rules for your type of program? We can tell you if there is research to provide guidance and, based on our experience, how your decisions are likely to play out.
RSI has been helping courts develop mediation and other ADR programs and the means to evaluate and improve them since the mid-1990s. We can help you by:
- Identifying local proponents of ADR
- Facilitating stakeholder meetings
- Helping define your goals
- Conducting research to answer planning questions
- Providing sample court and survey forms
- Drafting or refining court rules
- Developing training materials and programs
- Conducting specialized training of neutrals
- Evaluating court ADR programs and recommending improvements
Sample RSI Successes
Since 1995, RSI has been partnering with courts, attorneys, mediators and other community members to develop mediation programs. For example:
- Child protection mediation
- Eviction mediation
- Family mediation
- Major civil litigation mediation
- Mortgage foreclosure mediation
- Small claims mediation
"I knew that other circuits had developed small claims mediation programs, but it was not until we were offered the opportunity to collaborate with RSI and receive professional mediation training that we were able to create this unique program. Judge [Rebecca] Foley and I have appreciated the opportunity to work with the staff of RSI and community members who have a passion to mediate disputes."