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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does Resolution Systems Institute do?
    Resolution Systems Institute (formerly known as the Center for Analysis of Alternative Dispute Resolution Systems, or CAADRS), the organization that runs, is a small non-profit whose mission is to strengthen justice by enhancing court alternative dispute resolution systems through expertise in program development, research and resources. To that end, we provide assistance to courts in program development and program evaluation. Additionally, one of the organization's primary purposes is to work to gather and disseminate reliable information on court ADR, which is manifested in this website.
  • I would like to resolve a dispute outside of court. What can I do?
    A good way to resolve disputes outside of court is through mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process in which two or more people involved in a dispute discuss their differences with the assistance of a neutral third party. The neutral (the mediator) helps the disputants come to their own mutually acceptable resolution. For more information on mediation, see the Court ADR Pocket Guide.

    If you are interested in mediating your case, contact your state dispute resolution office for information on mediation services available in your area.

    In Cook County, Illinois, you can contact the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) at 312-922-6464, ext. 22. CCR provides free mediation services to the public at their offices in downtown Chicago. If your dispute involves family issues, you may want to try contacting the Mediation Council of Illinois at 312-641-3000. In southern Illinois, contact Dispute Resolution Institute.
  • I am party to a case that has already been filed in court but I want to mediate. What do I do?
    You have two options: You can approach the other party(ies) and ask them whether they would like to mediate. You would then agree on a private mediator to help you settle the case. Participation in this case is entirely voluntary for all involved.

    Your second option is to ask the judge to assign the case to mediation. This option is only available if the court has a rule authorizing the judge to do so. In some jurisdictions, if one party requests mediation, the case is referred even if the other party objects. In most jurisdictions, however, both parties must agree. However, the judge often has wide latitude as to how strongly he/she encourages the parties to attempt mediation.
  • Where can I go to get free legal advice in Illinois?
    For general free legal advice for Illinois residents, try going to, which is a web site for the public that answers common legal questions and refers people to legal services. If you live in Cook County, you may try contacting the Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) at 312-738-9200 or the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services at 312-332-1624.

    Some resources for landlords are: Property Management Resource Center at 773-227-7766 and Chicago Rents Right at 312-742-7368.

    Some resources for tenants are: Metropolitan Tenant's Organization at 773-292-4988 and Chicago Rents Right at 312-742-7368.

    If you live in DuPage County, the DuPage County Lawyer Referral Service provides a half hour of free legal advice. This service can be reached at 630-653-9109.
  • What are the certification requirements to become a mediator?
    A few states, primarily in the southeast, have a certification process for mediators who want to work in the courts. Qualifications to serve as a mediator vary from state to state. For more information on state certification requirements, you may try contacting the dispute resolution office for the state in which you are interested. These states do not certify private mediators contracted outside of court programs.

    In most states, there is no certification requirement. Instead, they rely on court rules to set out the qualifications. For example, in Illinois, qualifications to be on court rosters are set by the circuits individually through local court rule. Any questions about the qualifications can be answered by the court itself.
  • I don't have a law degree or a degree in behavioral science. Can I still mediate?
    The short answer is yes. The long answer depends on the state and the type of cases you want to mediate. To explain: parties to a dispute can contract with any mediator they wish in most cases, no matter the qualification requirements set out by the courts. In this way, a mediator with any background could mediate. However, it's extremely difficult to get started in the practice. In states with certification processes, those who are certified will be the most likely mediators contacted for services.

    In some states, court rules or other state requirements hold that mediators need to have specific training, education, or experience in order to be placed on court rosters or be certified. In Illinois, for example, courts require a law degree or a behavioral science background to be approved to mediate family cases. In other states, mediation experience and training are the only qualifications necessary. The best route is to contact your court or state dispute resolution office.
  • What are some other opportunities to mediate outside of a court program?
    Opportunities to mediate outside of court programs vary from state to state depending on how well-developed mediation is in a particular state. For more information on mediation opportunities in a particular state, you may try searching the dispute resolution office for the state in which you are interested.

    There are a couple of organizations that offer the opportunity to mediate in Chicago. One such organization is the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR). CCR is a community mediation organization that offers the opportunity to mediate in a volunteer capacity. In the past, only those who went through CCR's 40-hour mediation training and met their qualification standards were certified to mediate for them; however, they've recently added a 1-day volunteer training for those who have already received mediation training. Contact Ericka Jackson at ejackson@ccrchicago or at 312-922-6464, ext. 15 for more information. If you are interested in private family mediation, you may try contacting the Mediation Council of Illinois at 312-641-3000. In southern Illinois, contact the Dispute Resolution Institute.

    Something else that you may find helpful is to get into some of the organizations for mediators, such as the Association for Conflict Resolution.