By Kate Juerling, Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP
When Norris Choplin Schroeder partner Cindy Lasher took the mediation training course during the summer of 2019, she was inspired by the dedication of her classmates to the idea of helping people resolve their disputes. She found a kindred spirit in her classmate David Honig of Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman PC. At lunch a few months after their training, David floated the idea to Cindy of a pro bono mediation project that would help pro se parties resolve their cases. It can be difficult for people who represent themselves to navigate the waters of litigation and they cannot always afford a private mediator. They were just beginning to discuss the idea with the Marion County courts when the pandemic struck.
Once the courts had gotten their footing in the pandemic, David and Cindy began meeting regularly by WebEx with Judge David Dreyer and his team about making this dream a reality. After working out the initial details with the court, Cindy reached out to the community of registered mediators in Indiana and was overwhelmed by the response. There were so many volunteers the first day that she could not keep up with responding to their emails. Ultimately, more than 100 mediators across the state of Indiana have volunteered to be mediators free of charge to help settle cases that have at least one party who is self-represented.
The Pro Bono Mediation Program handles mediations of family law, civil law and plenary cases where at least one party is pro se. The cases are typically referred to the Pro Bono Mediation Program by the court, but if you know of a case that fits the criteria and needs mediation assistance, you can email Cindy at email@example.com to inquire whether your case can be accepted to the program. If you are a registered mediator who wants to volunteer for the program, you can also email Cindy at the same address.
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