Other ADR programs

Gain valuable legal experience and give back to your community by serving as a mediator, arbitrator or special master through the many Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs CCCBA supports in the Bay Area.

CASA Case Review Panels


What is a CASA volunteer?

A CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is appointed to a child or sibling group by a court order of the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.

The goal of a CASA is to prevent abused and neglected children from becoming lost in the Juvenile Dependency system.

When matching a CASA with a child, the objective is to ensure that the child’s best interest is represented.

CASA volunteers – also called citizen advocates – have five essential roles:

  1. To be the child’s voice in court, representing his or her best interests
  2. To assist the Juvenile Court by researching and assessing the circumstances of each case
  3. To report recommendations and findings
  4. To monitor the progress of the case as it moves through the system
  5. To become a source of support for the child

A CASA’s ultimate goal is to move the child out of temporary placement into a safe and permanent home. This could mean return to the parents, adoption, the appointment of a legal guardian or some other permanent living arrangement that satisfies the Court and fulfills the child’s needs.

What is a CASA Case Review Panel Volunteer?

The CASA Case Review Panel is a panel discussion with an attorney or therapist who volunteers their time to coordinate the CASA review. The panel includes five CASA volunteers, too.

CASA attorneys or therapists of Contra Costa County hold case reviews four times a month – on the first and third Wednesday of each month at noon and at 5pm. Each session lasts 90–120 minutes.

Each CASA presents their child’s case to the panel and gets feedback about how to best advocate for the child and what to recommend to the court.

Contact us

Attorneys or therapists interested in helping CASA of Contra Costa at case review on a volunteer basis should contact:

Bob Salgado
Program Director
Phone: (925) 256-7284 ext 3

Center for Human Development


Center for Human Development Conflict Resolution Program provides volunteer mediators to assist in resolving disputes on a wide range of issues.

The Center’s programs consist of community mediation (including landlord/tenant, consumer-merchant, and workplace and family disputes), guardianship mediation (a court-connected program) and elder mediation.

A real estate mediation service (CCREMS) provides professional low-cost mediation services for homeowners associations (HOA), boards, contractors and/or property management companies.

Professional mediators are also available for contract disputes, employment workplace disputes and other commercial matters requiring special expertise.

Our program offers customized, in-house mediation training and facilitation services to agencies and corporations.

We also offer a comprehensive mediation training program and advanced training in guardianship mediation and elder mediation. On completion of the training, a certificate is awarded, as well as MCLE credit.

Contact us

For more information and to receive an application to volunteer, contact:

Phone: (925) 687-8844 ext. 301
Email: david@chd-prevention.org

The CONGRESS of Neutrals

Established in 2000, The Congress of Neutrals (TCON) provides small claims, unlawful detainers, civil harassment and family law contempt mediation services for the Contra Costa County Superior Court. TCON recruits and trains volunteers and mediators and has conducted more than 8,500 mediations for the citizens of Contra Costa County, primarily in small claims, civil harassment and eviction cases.

TCON also offer MCLE-accredited training in alternative dispute resolution, and through the Mediation Mentoring Program (MMP). TCON provides new mediators who have completed 40 hours of training an opportunity to gain practical experience at the Court under the supervision of experienced mediators.

In 2010, the Congress of Neutrals established the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) for Contra Costa County, partnering with County Probation. This restorative justice program focuses on relationships and the impact of crime on victims, with a focus on juvenile offenders and their victims.

Contact us

For more information, contact:

Congress of Neutrals
Phone: (925) 937-3008

Palvir Shoker
Court Mediation Director
Email: pshoker@congressofneutrals.com

Chelsea Stewart
VORP Director
Email: Chels15woodger@gmail.com

You may also visit our website for training information, MMP applications and other information.

The CONGRESS of Neutral - Private Mediation

Do you have a case that can benefit from mediation, but the client cannot afford the full cost or even the shared cost of mediation?

The Congress of Neutrals now offers mediation who those of you who have cases needing mediation beyond the walls of the Contra Costa County Courthouses in which your client may not have the means to pay market rates. Our mission is to help meet the gap in the need for mediation at affordable rates.

We have been mediating in The Contra Costa County Superior Court since 2001 and many of the judicial officers and staff are familiar with the work we do and the positive outcomes we are able to achieve.

Our highly trained mediators can mediate in a vast number of subject matters, as many of our mediators are trained attorneys and negotiators with backgrounds in finance, counseling, and many areas of civil law to include but not limited to real estate/unlawful detainers, construction defects, insurance claims, tort injury, money dispute, probate and much more.

As a non-profit and community minded, our goal is to provide our services to meet the needs of those who may not be able to pay the rates of other mediators. We offer better than competitive rates and we offer a need-based sliding scale for those eligible. Contact us at contact@congressofneutrals.org for our rates.

If you have a case that you think is ripe for mediation and you don’t want the cost of mediation to be the barrier to moving forward and settling, please consider The Congress of Neutrals.

For a list of our current mediators, their resumes and their areas of expertise click on our website: https://congressofneutrals.org/index.php/private-mediation/

If you are interested in our services, please contact us at contact@congressofneutrals.org or call (925) 307-3008. One of our staff will get back to you shortly.

Minors Counsel

The Family Law Section of the Contra Costa Bar Association (FLS) administers a Minors Counsel Program designed to provide the children of Contra Costa County representation as needed in Family Law custody and visitation disputes.

FLS maintains a rotation system involving qualified and court-approved attorneys accepting cases as they become available.

Attorneys for minors (children) are appointed by court order only.

In order to participate as an attorney in this program, specific qualifications must be met and each attorney must be approved by the bench. Cases are compensated in two manners: either by a flat-rate fee paid by the county or at an hourly rate set by the court and billed to the appropriate parties (usually the parents).

Contact us

For more information on how to apply to join the Minors Counsel, please contact:

Therese Bruce
CCCBA Family Law Section
Email: fls.cccba@gmail.com

Special Masters


Special masters are attorneys or mental health professionals who serve in a quasi-judicial role. They’re appointed by the court to handle cases which may need more immediate attention than the courts’ dockets and scheduling capabilities allow.

Custody special masters are appointed by stipulated court order only. Special masters for other issues may be appointed by stipulation or court order.

Special masters are compensated for their work by agreement with the parties, or pursuant to the terms of the appointment order.

The Court maintains a list of court-approved special masters. Attorneys or mental health professionals interested in serving as a special master must meet qualifications as outlined by the Court and the Family Law Section-approved guidelines.

Contact us

For more information, please contact:

Therese Bruce
CCCBA Family Law Section
Email: fls.cccba@gmail.com

Superior Court of Contra Costa County—ADR Program Panel (Civil)


The Superior Court of Contra Costa County offers four different types of Alternative Dispute Resolution programs and services in general civil cases:

  1. Mediation
  2. Arbitration
  3. Neutral Case Evaluation
  4. Settlement Mentors

All ADR panel members must meet the applicable training, education and experience requirements for their panel as set forth in the court’s local rules.

Mediation panel members provide 30 minutes of free case preparation time and two hours of free mediation time for each case assigned. If more time is needed, parties must pay the mediator’s hourly fee, unless a fee waiver has been granted, in which case the parties must reach an agreement with the mediator.

Arbitration is available for cases with a value of $50,000 or less or by agreement of the parties. Panel arbitrators are paid $150 per case or $150 per day if the arbitration takes more than one day.

The Neutral Case Evaluation program allows litigants and their lawyers to meet with an experienced trial attorney to get an independent opinion about their case and to learn about the likely outcomes if the case were to go to trial. The first 30 minutes of preparation and the first two hours of conference time with a neutral case evaluator are free of charge. If more time is needed, the parties must pay that evaluator’s hourly fee for the time used, although exceptions may be made in cases in which a fee waiver has been granted.

Settlement mentors are attorneys who have background experience in the issues involved in the case. They may be available on the day of trial or earlier, if the case is referred by a judge. Settlement mentor services are free. However, unlike mediation, proceedings before settlement mentors are not confidential.

Contact us

For more information about court rules, application forms and instructions, visit the Court’s website or contact:

Alternative Dispute Resolution Program and Services
Phone: (925) 608-2075
Email: adrweb@contracosta.courts.ca.gov

Superior Court of Contra Costa County – Juvenile Dependency Mediation Panel

The Superior Court of Contra Costa County offers free mediation in juvenile dependency cases set for contested jurisdictional, review and/or dispositional hearing.

Mediations are conducted in accordance with California Rule of Court 5.518. Mediations are not available in cases filed pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code sections 300 (d), (e), (f), and (i), and cases where family reunification services may not be offered pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code section 361.5(b).

Specific qualifications must be met in order to serve as a mediator in this program, including completion of a 40 hour comprehensive mediation training program, a minimum of two years of experience as an attorney in juvenile dependency cases and experience in mediating or co-mediating a minimum of five cases. Mediators are paid a flat fee by the court.

Contact us

For more information about court rules or qualifications, please contact:

Juvenile Dependency Mediation Office
Phone: (925) 608-2075
Email: jdmed@contracosta.courts.ca.gov