Jennifer Shack

Jennifer Shack

Jennifer Shack joined Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) in 1999 and became Director of Research a year later. In this role, she heads up the Monitoring and Evaluation program at RSI, and is the creator of the Court Mediation Effectiveness Tracking System, in use in circuits around Illinois. She also conducts evaluations of mediation programs in state and federal courts in Illinois. 

In another aspect of her position, Ms. Shack is responsible for the growth and evolution of the Court ADR Resource Center, which contains thousands of resources pertaining to the use of ADR in the courts. Most significantly, she led transition of the Resource Center to a new, sophisticated web site,

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Articles and Video:

For Family Cases Involving Reports of Intimate Partner Violence, Shuttle and Videoconference Mediation Are Safe, Effective and Preferred by Parents (07/06/21)
In a randomized controlled trial of family cases involving parents reporting high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV), parents felt safer in and were more satisfied with shuttle and videoconference mediation than litigation.

Eviction Mediation Insights from Two Successful Programs (05/07/21)
As efforts ramp up to address the impending eviction crisis, I thought I’d revisit studies of two existing eviction mediation programs (in Minnesota and St. Louis) that were published last year.

The Psychological Complications of Resolving Disputes Online (03/30/20)
Online dispute resolution (ODR) can take many different forms and should be designed to take into account human psychology.

Do Parties Trust Mediators When They’re Not in the Same Room? (09/06/19)
Trust in an experienced mediator is the same whether a mediation participant interacts with that mediator via video or face-to-face, according to recent research.

Findings from an Evaluation of Eight Foreclosure Mediation Programs (12/07/18)
One great benefit of evaluating eight programs with different approaches to resolving the same cases is that it allowed me to uncover program design factors and other variables that promote program success.

Courts and Attorneys Aren’t Doing Enough to Inform Litigants about Their ADR Options (11/10/17)
Donna Shestowsky at UC Davis School of Law has been researching the relationship between litigants and court ADR programs for quite a while.

Which Mediator Techniques Are Most Effective? Report Points to Some with Potential (10/27/17)
The ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Task Force on Research of Mediator Techniques has recently released its report on almost 50 studies that looked at the effect of mediator techniques and actions on (1) settlement and related outcomes; (2) disputants’ relationship or ability to work together and their perceptions of the mediator, the mediation process or the outcome; and (3) the attorneys’ perceptions of the mediation

Conscious and Unconscious Thinking in Mediators (07/07/17)
The mediation field now has more information in our push to unlock the black box of mediation.

Getting the Story Right with Data to Make the Right Decisions (11/04/16)
For foreclosure mediation programs, the data can tell the story of how homeowners are affected by changes to the program.

Access to Justice and ADR: What Is Needed for Parties to Experience Justice (12/04/15)
It is very important to provide information to parties in mediation so that they can be fully informed about their rights and what they are agreeing to. But there are better ways of doing this than to change the role of the mediator.

What is Court ADR? Clearing Up Some Misconceptions (10/02/15)
How can you make good decisions if the information you have is limited or wrong? That’s the question that drove me to the fields of research and program evaluation – good policy and effective programs are passions of mine, and there’s no way to have either without accurate, reliable information. It’s also the question that ran through my head as I read the article, “To Mediate in Court or out of Court, that is the Question” in Financier Worldwide. In the article, the author distinguishes between court and private mediation in a way that is not consistent with the wide variety of court and private mediation that exists in the United States. The article provides a good example of the misconceptions I often see in articles about mediation, misconceptions that can lead to poor decisions about the use of mediation.

What Happens to Temporary Loan Modifications Reached in Foreclosure Mediation? (02/06/15)
A lot of the cases that go through RSI’s foreclosure mediation programs end with a temporary loan modification – a trial payment plan in which the homeowner pays a new mortgage amount for a few months. If the homeowner makes the payments on time and in full during the trial period, the homeowner and bank agree to make the modification permanent.

How to Mediate High-Conflict Cases: Balance and Control (10/05/14)
Like a lot of ADR researchers, I’m always interested to know what really happens in the black box that is the mediation session. So, when someone pries the box open to look inside, my eyes light up. Researchers have begun using conversation analysis to uncover what happens in mediation that leads to successful outcomes. The latest contribution to this research comes from Norway, with a study of 154 custody mediations.

Grievance Procedures and Mediation Policy Goals (08/08/14)
Parties to court mediation in Florida have the opportunity to submit their complaints regarding a mediator to a robust grievance process. The structure includes four stages: committee review to determine whether a complaint is facially sufficient; a preliminary review of rules that may have been violated and the mediator’s response to the complaint, which are used to determine probable cause; a meeting between mediator and complainant; and a formal hearing.

Yes, It Can Be Done: Ten Mediation Program Models, One Online System (03/30/14)
When Resolution Systems Institute received a grant from the Illinois Attorney General to develop foreclosure mediation programs across the state, it was our opportunity to practice what we preach. From RSI’s inception, we’ve been telling courts that they need to monitor and evaluate their mediation programs to ensure that they’re providing quality services to those who come to them to resolve disputes. We’ve also been urging them to incorporate the development of a monitoring and evaluation system into their program design process.

Montana Overwhelmed by Record Number of Cases; Looks to Innovate (05/10/13)
Montana’s civil caseload topped 50,000 last year. That may not seem to be a lot to those in more populated states, but it’s enough to drive the state’s legislature to act.

Mediation Saves Mediation in Massachusetts (03/15/13)
At a time when lenders are working to keep mediation from becoming law in Missouri and Oregon, lenders in Massachusetts have voluntarily dropped their opposition to a mandatory program – and they did so through appellate mediation.

Foreclosure Mediation by the Numbers (10/06/12)
There has been a lot of talk about whether mediation is an effective answer to the foreclosure crisis, but there hasn’t been a lot of information. RSI is trying to rectify that. As one step in understanding the effectiveness of these programs, RSI has pulled together all the publicly available statistics for foreclosure mediation programs in the US in Foreclosure Dispute Resolution by the Numbers.

Delaware’s Chancery Court Arbitration Procedure Ruled Unconstitutional (09/14/12)
Last year, the Delaware Coalition for Open Government sued Delaware’s Chancery Court judges for operating a private arbitration system. Empowered by legislation passed in 2009, the judges were acting as arbitrators in business disputes, which, the Coalition argued, effectively made court proceedings confidential.