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Empirical Studies about Mediation

Empirical studies of mediation help practioners improve techniques to better serve mediation participants. We hope that the links compiled on this web page help our web visitors better understand mediation and better serve those in need. This compilation focuses on studies available on the internet. There are additional resources available in print that are not listed here.

Readers who are aware of other, additional mediation studies that do not appear in this compilation are invited to contact us with suggested additions.
  1. Bibliographic Summary of Cost, Pace, and Satisfaction Studies of Court-Related Mediation Programs, 2nd Ed.: By Jennifer Shack of Resolution Systems Institute, Updated for 2007. This is an annotated bibliography of evaluations of court-related mediation programs. It provides information on the methods and findings of more than 70 studies of civil, family, small claims, workers' compensation, appellate, victim-offender, and bankruptcy mediation programs. Most focus on time, cost, and satisfaction of the participants.
  2. Summary of 1997 RAND Institute Evaluation of Judicial Case Management Under the Civil Justice Reform Actpdf This article by James Kakalik is a summary of the 4-book research series done by the Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) on the Civil Justice Reform Act (CJRA) of RAND. The study found that the CJRA pilot program had little effect on delays and costs of litigation and that ADR had no major effect on litigation cost or delay, though participants liked the ADR programs and cases referred to ADR were more likely to have a monetary outcome.
  3. Alternative Dispute Resolution: An Empirical Analysis: This article by H. Jay Folberg and Joshua D. Rosenberg appeared in the Stanford Law Review (1994). It is based on an Early Neutral Evaluation Pilot Program in the Northern District of California.
  4. Mediation Can Bring Gains, But Under What Conditions? This Article by Jennifer Shack appeared in Dispute Resolution Magazine, 9(2): 11-13, Winter 2003. It summarizes the findings of 62 studies of court-related mediation regarding cost, pace of litigation and satisfaction. It then discusses ways in which courts can improve the monitoring and evaluation of their mediation programs so that they can better determine whether the programs are achieving the goals set for them, as well as what characteristics lead to the most effective programs.
  5. The Impact of Pre-Mediation Caucuses on Conflict Resolution: A 2007 report by Roderick Swaab and Jeanne Brett of Northwestern that studied 1381 labor and family mediations in The Netherlands found that the use of private meetings to establish rapport prior to the mediation positively impact the quality of settlement. Analyses of the frequency of caucusing during the mediation revealed a much weaker effect.
  6. An Empirical Study of Child Custody Outcomes: An article by Suzanne Reynolds, Catherine Harris, Ralph Peeples from the North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 6, p. 1629, 2007. This Article looks at child custody outcomes in a North Carolina jurisdiction with mandatory mediation of custody disputes. To test the thesis of feminist critics, the study analyzes custody outcomes in an entire population of parties involved with the courts in custody disputes in 2002. The data reveals no increase in the incidence of joint physical custody with mediation. To the contrary, mothers received sole physical custody more often in mandatory mediation than they did either in lawyer-negotiated settlements or in litigation.
  7. Evaluation of the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program, The First 23 Monthspdf This study by Robert Hahn and Carl Barr evaluates the effects of mandatory civil case mediation as regulated by Rule 24.1 on disposition time, cost to parties, the quality of disposition outcomes, and the operation of the court. Through an examination of court records and the analysis of a questionnaire that was distributed to both mediation participants and a control group that did not participate in mediation, the study authors found that mandatory mediation has significantly reduced disposition time, decreased costs to litigants, improved settlement rates, and procured high satisfaction rates from both lawyers and parties.
  8. Evaluation of the Early Mediation Pilot Programspdf This 2004 study by Heather Anderson and Ron Pi evaluates five court-annexed civil mediation programs in California in five areas: trial rate, time to disposition, litigant satisfaction, litigant costs, and court workload. The major findings of the study were that 58% of unlimited cases and 71% of limited cases settled as a result of mediation; the trial rate was reduced 24 to 30 percent, resulting in substantial savings to both litigants and the court; the number of motions and/or pretrial court events was lower for program cases; there was some positive impact on the time from filing to disposition for mediated cases; and satisfaction of attorneys was higher in program cases than non-program cases.
  9. The Effects of Court-Ordered Mediation in Workers' Compensation Cases Filed in Circuit Court: Results from an Experiment Conducted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore Citypdf This is a 2002 study by Marvin Mandell and Andrea Marshall of a pilot project to make mediation mandatory for workers' compensation cases. In the evaluation, cases were assigned either to a group for which mediation was mandatory, or to a group for which it was voluntary.

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