Statewide program seeks volunteer mediators to help people resolve general legal disputes outside of court, online and in person

Based on the growing need for—and success of—dispute resolution services across the state, the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) encourages interested individuals to apply by September 30 to become volunteer mediators through one of its 17 Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers around Michigan, where they can help people (online and in person) navigate general civil legal disputes. Each year, nearly 30,000 Michigan citizens who might otherwise have court hearing or trial resolve their disputes through mediation services provided by these local centers, and people typically reach agreements about 80 percent of the time. Some of the issues frequently addressed at the centers involve landlord-tenant disputes, money owed, divorce, and child custody.

Volunteer community mediators are typically individuals who wish to make in difference in their community and have the time to commit to give back. They do not tell people how strong or weak their case is, they do not tell people what to do, and they do not provide legal advice. Mediators are trained to help the parties themselves come up with a solution they can live with. Because each CDRP center assesses its own needs, anyone interested in applying should reach out to their local CDRP center for more information about specific requirements, application, training, and possible fees.

Mediation can take place in person at one of the centers or online through SCAO’s MI-Resolve tool, which was the nation’s first statewide online dispute resolution platform. A recent independent evaluation shows the effectiveness of virtual dispute resolution using Zoom and SCAO’s MI-Resolve, showing that both were effective and rated highly by users.

General benefits of mediation include:

• Mediation is flexible, forward-looking, creative, confidential, effective, can preserve relationships, and participants can control the outcome

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