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Overcoming Suppositions About ODR

Recently, Phil Loree, an attorney in New York, asks the following question on the Linkedin VirtualCourthouse.com Group Discussion; What is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)? There is the formal definition - here.  However, as Debra Healy, a specialist/mediator/paralegal, observed; I agree that it's difficult to provide a specific definition of ODR - it can mean different things to different people/entities.

Usually, a mindset or supposition will determine the most specific definition. As it turns, out the supposition may also present a barrier to the use of ODR. Webster defines a supposition as hypothesis. So what are the main ODR suppositions or hypothesis? Ten are provided below, however there are many more.

1. Everything is completed online.
2. A computer makes the decision.
3. I have to give up my way of doing things.
4. I will have to surrender to technology
5. I have to do things a different way.
6. I have to become computer literate.
7. I have to become an Internet expert.
8. Face to face activity is essential to a fair resolution of a case.
9. My client will not appreciate my services if arbitration or mediation is performed online.
10. I cannot experiment with my client's case.

There is a considerable body of experience to tap into, as ODR has been in existence for over ten years. Several business models have proven themselves and others have failed. One thing seems apparent; the concept is here to stay.

No less an authority than legal futurist Richard Susskind, who has titled his latest book The End of Lawyers. In an article in The Times Online, Richard states as follows: I call technologies that threaten the work of today's lawyers and law firms disruptive legal technologies. They do not support or complement current legal practices. They challenge and replace them, in whole or in part. This leads to the second part of my response to the non believers. Most of the disruptive technologies that I identify, such as document assembly, personalized alerting, online dispute resolution, and open sourcing are a phenomena of which most practicing lawyers are only dimly aware. Also bear in mind that my predictions are long term predictions, stretching to 2016 and beyond. If lawyers are barely conversant with today's technologies, they have even less sense of how much progress in legal technology is likely in the coming 10 years.

Over the next weeks and months, the suppositions outlined will be discussed in further detail.

What is your ODR supposition? Email VirtualCourthouse or share your thoughts on the Linkedin VirtualCourthouse.com Discussion Group
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by Judge Arthur Monty Ahalt ( Ret.) - November 20,2009

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