I have had several occasions recently to speak with Jeff Aresty, the Boston lawyer who is the founder and president of InternetBar.org. Although I had known about the organization, hearing what Jeff had to say has convinced me that InternetBar.org could come to serve a central role in shaping the future of law and justice worldwide. This morning, I joined. I encourage others to do the same if you are interested in how technology can transform the practice of law.
Some key points about InternetBar.org:
- Its core mission is to use technology and the Internet to harness “the world’s collective intelligence for the support of a fair and accessible global online justice system.” That is high talk, but the group truly is devoted to using technology to enhance civil and social justice throughout the world, particularly in developing countries. This means looking at online tools for dispute resolution, law practice, collaboration, communications and training.
- The group is already actively engaged in projects in China, Africa and elsewhere aimed at using justice systems to enhance e-commerce and economic development.
- It recently launched the InternetBar.org Institute to provide education and training in e-lawyering, online dispute resolution and emerging areas of law. Many of its courses are free.
- Its leaders are well-regarded legal and technology professionals with proven credentials. Aresty, for example, has a 30-year track record as a legal innovator, including having co-founded ABA TechShow in 1987, initiating and directing the Computer College Program in the mid-80s, serving as reporter to the ABA’s eLawyering Task Force, and currently chair of the ABA’s International Services, Technology and Data Protection Committee. Treasurer Ken Vacovec is a well-known Massachusetts tax lawyer and former state bar president who chaired a study on unmet legal needs in the state.
- It is developing alliances with other innovative organizations, such as the Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with which it cosponored Cyberweek 2006.
- For lawyers in Massachusetts, InternetBar.org recently formed an alliance with the Massachusetts Bar Association offering special courses through its institute. Aresty is working with the MBA’s ADR Committee — of which I am a member — to develop programs and training in ODR.
- Last but not least — it is free to join. In fact — and frankly this seemed odd to me — it does not even ask your name or location, just your e-mail address. The organization may charge dues someday, but not anytime this year, Aresty said.
Consider joining. Take a look around the Web sites of the organization and its institute, read Aresty’s blog and the blog of the organization’s executive director, Susan Waters, and decide for yourself.