NEWBURYPORT – A dispute resolution service, the nonprofit North Essex Dispute Resolution Center, Inc., has been operating at the Newburyport District Court since July, offering area residents free mediation, conciliation and consumer assistance through grants received from the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and the Massachusetts Trial Court.

Three programs are based at the center: The North Essex Mediators provide face to face mediation throughout the area and is the mediation service for Ipswich, Newburyport, Haverhill and Lawrence District Courts; the North Essex Conciliation Program provides conciliation service in Haverhill, Newburyport and Ipswich district courts in cooperation with the Haverhill and Newburyport Bar Associations; and the Consumer Protection Program assists residents in resolving consumer issues though advocacy and education.

Thomas Joy, the executive director of the center, said in a press release,  “This is really the first time that all of the possible dispute resolution methods are coming together in one place. Through the financial support of Attorney General Maura Healy’s Office and the Trial Court we can support the center and provide these services free of charge.”

Joy also credited the court administration and staff, as well as the “vision and desire to help the community resolve problems constructively” shown by Judge Peter F. Doyle and Judge Allen Swan that has made this option available to the community.

Plans for training in mediation and conciliation, as well as outreach events, are in the works. The center is also interested in having community members volunteer as consumer advocates and office help. Anyone interested in learning more about the center can call 978-872-1560 or email The North Essex Dispute Resolution Center is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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