There's No Place Like Home: Applying Dispute Systems Design Theory to Create a Foreclosure Mediation System

There's No Place Like Home: Applying Dispute Systems Design Theory to Create a Foreclosure Mediation System

By Andrea Kupfer Schneider and Natalie C. Fleury

Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School.

Natalie C. Fleury, Program Coordinator for Dispute Resolution and Adjunct Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School; Supervisor, Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program.

Excerpt from CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: There's No Place Like Home: Applying Dispute Systems Design Theory to Create a Foreclosure Mediation System, 11 Nev. L.J. 368 (Spring 2011)


In partnership with the City of Milwaukee, Marquette University Law School designed and now operates a voluntary mediation program to deal with the foreclosure crisis. The creation of the Marquette Foreclosure Mediation Program (MFMP) is a case study in dispute system design. Because MFMP is unlike other foreclosure mediation programs - in that it is was designed in conjunction with and is now operated by a law school - the design structure and results analysis are unique and can provide important insights for foreclosure programs around the country.

This Article uses a dispute system design (DSD) framework to analyze the MFMP. After providing a brief history of the foreclosure crisis in Milwaukee, and the process design of MFMP, the Article then utilizes DSD to analyze MFMP on several different factors. The Article examines participation in the design, the suitability of mediation for this crisis, results thus far, and lessons in permeability and sustainability. Finally, we draw lessons for other designers - dispute system professionals, courts, and legislatures - in how to effectively manage this type of program.

I. The Foreclosure Crisis in Milwaukee and the City's Response

A. The Crisis

By 2008, the effect of the foreclosure crisis on neighborhoods was also becoming glaringly apparent in the city, and leaders were increasingly concerned that the vacant homes would become magnets for crime, contribute to blight in neighborhoods, and drain the city's resources. 1 Board-ups of vacant homes had increased by 50 percent from 2005, and ...

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