Just Court ADR by Nicole Wilmet, Susan M. Yates, Jennifer Shack, Heather Scheiwe Kulp, and Jessica Glowinski.
Our series, My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our court ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite resource. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with Catherine Geyer, Manager of the Dispute Resolution Section, Supreme Court of Ohio, to learn about her favorite resource.
NW: What is your favorite ADR Resource?
CG: My favorite resource is my network of experienced and talented dispute resolution colleagues from Ohio and across the country. I am fortunate to be minutes away from one of the top-ranked dispute resolution programs in the country at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Ohio is fortunate to have a wealth of experienced, dedicated and knowledgeable dispute resolution professionals at OSU and throughout the state. On a regular basis, usually quarterly and over the lunch hour, we meet to discuss dispute resolution developments and challenges with the law professors, mediators and other dispute resolution professionals. Also, throughout the year, the Supreme Court of Ohio Dispute Resolution Section conducts roundtables with the court-connected dispute resolution professionals. Through these regular, planned meetings and roundtables we discuss trends, statewide rules, ethics, and the gamut of dispute resolution topics.
In addition, I am a member of the ABA’s Dispute Resolution Section and Court ADR Committee which both have a collective knowledge on dispute resolution that fills courthouses across the nation and the world. To my great fortune, those individuals are generous with their thought, time, energy, innovation and experience. At the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution’s Annual Spring Conference, there is updated content on a variety of topics including an entire day of content for courts, called the Court Symposium hosted by the ABA’s Court ADR Committee. From my perspective since joining the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Dispute Resolution Section three years ago after many years in the private sector, the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution and Court ADR Committee are akin to a virtual library, absent the Dewey Decimal System, of course.
NW: For those unfamiliar, what do typical quarterly lunches and ABA Court ADR Committee monthly calls look like?
CG: The quarterly lunches are informal and unstructured although I usually jot down some bullet points to talk about in advance and during our discussions. The monthly calls with the ABA Court ADR Committee are more structured and this year’s co-chairs, Alan Weiner from Maryland and Robyn Weinstein from New York, do a great job creating an agenda and focusing on topics that are most important to the members and to the committee’s goals.
NW: Can you recall a time when you turned to this network for support?
CG: Yes, once the network is established, it is easier to contact one another as issues arise. The Ohio colleagues were instrumental in helping with our first statewide dispute resolution conference in March. The Court ADR Committee had a discussion on one call where everyone was sharing information on their state’s initiatives. One of the members had been working on child protection mediation and offered valuable insights and resources, and then [RSI Executive Director] Susan Yates provided additional information on the same topic. That was helpful to me because in Ohio the Commission on Dispute Resolution recommended a statewide initiative on child protection mediation to address the influx of cases in the juvenile courts related to opioids and other substance abuse issues. Although we have offered child protection mediation in Ohio for a long time, the new information from others on the call brought a fresh perspective on a national level that was useful. The information I learned on our call gave me a direct resource to research and information that I would not have otherwise found so readily.
NW: What do you most value about the input you receive from other court personnel?
CG: So much. The creativity, innovation, passion, experience and collaboration.
NW: In what ways have you found that these resources have been better able to serve your needs than a traditional print resource?
CG: Traditional print resources or online resources are helpful, but there is no substitute for experience. Taking time to establish a network, or taking advantage of an established network like the ABA’s Court ADR Committee, takes academic information and translates it into practical tips and advice. These networks also build camaraderie and a pre-planned, informal place to convene to discuss and explore emerging and challenging topics. I am grateful for these networks and encourage others to take advantage of them.
Susan Yates has been Executive Director of Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) since 1997. In this role, she is responsible for implementing the organizational mission of improving the effectiveness of court-related alternative dispute resolution methods and for overall management of a national on-line Court ADR Resource Center, technical assistance to courts that are working to establish or improve their ADR programs, and monitoring and evaluation of court ADR programs.
As Executive Director, Ms. Yates assists state and federal courts throughout Illinois with their development of sound ADR programs. She uses her expertise and years of experience to help them navigate the complexities of program design, such as how to structure referral systems, how to deal with issues including confidentiality and neutrality, and how to ensure quality.