[Another in a series of mini-reports on what I saw at the annual LegalTech conference in New York this week.] Predictive analytics are all the rage in e-discovery, but here is a new product that uses artificial intelligence and deep data to predict the course of a negotiation, estimating when the parties are likely to [...]
TAG | ODR
Can a lawyer who helped bring zip to electric cars do the same for online dispute resolution?
Craig Harding, the former general counsel of Tesla Motors, now hopes to bring speed and style to ODR with the launch of an “online courtroom service” called ZipCourt. It will be a challenge. ODR has long struck me as a smart alternative to litigation or live ADR for certain kinds of disputes. But it has failed to gain broad use, even though a number of ODR services have tried to establish footholds over the years.
ZipCourt borrows elements from both ODR and traditional ADR. While some ODR services rely heavily on technology to automate or assist in the resolution of a dispute, ZipCourt leaves the decision-making to actual human arbitrators. In this way, it says, it is able to handle anything from a simple disagreement to a complex dispute.
Here is how it works. A party goes to the site and registers a dispute, using a form to provide a brief description and to categorize its complexity and subject matter. ZipCourt then invites the other parties in the dispute to participate. If the parties accept and agree to the terms, ZipCourt assigns an arbitrator (or the parties select one by ranking a list of arbitrators). Parties then use the system to upload evidence and exchange messages. Once the arbitrator reaches a decision, the decision is uploaded and the process is complete.
Depending on the complexity of the dispute, the process generally ranges in length from three to 30 days. The cost depends on the complexity. A simple disagreement is $399 per party, a legal dispute is $1,999 per party, and a complex dispute – one requiring rigorous analysis and extensive review of numerous documents — is $14,900 per party.
Helping Harding in this venture is Chris Kyriacou, a former in-house lawyer at Apple, where he managed IP and commercial litigation. Serving as advisors are Larry Kramer, dean of Stanford Law School, and Gary Benton, founder of Silicon Valley Arbitration Center.
The seminal annual event in online dispute resolution, ODR Cyberweek, kicks off today and continues through Friday. This free-of-charge and entirely online event features an array of discussions, simulations, demonstrations and other activities related to ODR. It is sponsored by the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.
I am chairing a Massachusetts Bar Association panel next week, Online Dispute Resolution: How it Provides Increased Effectiveness, Efficiency and Quality. We will have two speakers who are leaders in this field:
- May-Britt Kollenhof-Bruning, cofounder of the Dutch online-mediation company Juripax.
- James F. Ring, founder of Appellex Bargaining Solutions and founding partner of the law firm Chu, Ring & Hazel.
The program is Thursday, Oct. 18, noon to 2 p.m. Cost is $15 for law students and members of MBA sponsoring sections, $25 for other MBA members and $50 for nonmembers.
The program is sponsored by the MBA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (on which I serve) together with its sections on Business Law; Civil Litigation; Family Law; General Practice, Solo & Small Firm; Law Practice Management; and Young Lawyers.
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.