Please watch this previous webinar Dan presented on the essence of ODR.

Dan Rainey ADRHub Webinar - ODR from Bryan Hanson on Vimeo.



Moderator Bio:

Dan Rainey

Daniel Rainey is the Chief of Staff for the National Mediation Board, the US Government agency most associated with the use of technology for dispute resolution and dispute management.  He teaches in graduate dispute resolution programs for Creighton University (the Werner Institute) and Southern Methodist University.  For copies of articles he has written and material related to ODR, refer to his web site at http://danielrainey.us






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To kick off this discussion, let me offer a little perspective (admittedly with my own bias built in) about where we've come from and where we are with ODR.

In 1996, the first articles about online dispute resolution (ODR) were published, followed closely by books about ODR by Ethan Katsh and Janet Rifkin, and Colin Rule. In 1997, I was working with the National Mediation Board to find ways to integrate technology into the dispute resolution work the agency was doing in the labor management arena. In 2003, Ethan, Janet, Colin, and I began to see a convergence of interests associated with the commercial, fourth party work they were doing and the conflict management/case management work I was doing. In 2004, Ethan and I were part of a team that won the first of two NSF grants to study the impact of technology on dispute resolution, and that work is still ongoing today.

One could visualize the ODR world in a number of ways, but one way that hits home with me is to think of the continual divergence and re-convergence of interests surrounding commercial disputes (particularly those generated online) and interests surrounding the use of technology to conduct, in whole or in part, more "traditional" ADR work outside the commercial realm.

In the mid-1990's, it was pretty hard to find anyone outside a small band of evangelical converts to technology willing to endorse the usefulness of ODR - the "I've gotta look 'em in the eye" mentality was very strong, and it was not unusual for members of our group to present panels at professional meetings where the panel outnumbered, or nearly outnumbered, the audience.

The situation seems to have changed radically. The annual international ODR conferences now draw hundreds of conflict resolution professionals from around the world to talk about dispute resolution technology, and at the last ACR conference one of our ODR panels (scheduled in the last slot on the last day when city tours of Chicago were being offered) drew a crowd that filled the room. The world-wide conversation about ODR now is lively, and routinely demonstrates the common interests of a wide range of dispute resolution professionals in a wide range of venues.

The question I'd like to use to start off this discussions is, simply, "why has ODR now seemingly become an assumed part of the ADR mainstream instead of a fringe idea?"

Your answer, of course, may be that it hasn't become mainstream, or you make take exception to the thumbnail picture of the state of ODR that I've drawn. That's fine, too - but whatever your perspective coming into the discussion, let's talk.
HI Dan

I would say that the use of technology has become mainstream. Convenience is a driving force and people have less time. But to incorporate technology into mainstream dispute resolution requires the leaders of 'dispute' markets to make choices in favor of technology usage as you have, and, as eBay and ICANN have. In the developed world's justice systems, technology is used, more or less, for facilitating paper based system efficiencies, such as e-filing, or notices that get pushed to mobile devices, or for making whiz bang jury presentations. That doesn't change the nature of the justice system - judges still show up at the court house, as do lawyers and parties - just less often, and with fewer papers to carry.

Transformational justice, such as what the UK has done with money claims, requires legislative or executive action. Maybe the recession will cause cash strapped judiciaries and bars to think long and hard about how to incorporate ODR systems into day to day justice.

Jeff Aresty
Hi Dan.
One thought that comes to me is that we now have regular exposure to automated customer service interfaces on the phone and on the web, and ODR may in many cases really be an extension of customer service in e-commerce.

The idea that ODR is mainstream doesn't sound right to me if you focus on mediators who are actually plugged into platforms to manage their own case loads. Most mediators that I know that have mediated formally online did it in SquareTrade, but not for their own work. I wonder even today how many mediators are actually mediating more than a very small percentage of their cases online. Perhaps the ODR field today is really one divided into DIYers who cobble things together to connect a person who is at a distance and ODR platform providers who code and build platforms, and hope to make their money from the platform. Am I making any sense here?

Daniel Rainey said:

The question I'd like to use to start off this discussions is, simply, "why has ODR now seemingly become an assumed part of the ADR mainstream instead of a fringe idea?"

Your answer, of course, may be that it hasn't become mainstream, or you make take exception to the thumbnail picture of the state of ODR that I've drawn. That's fine, too - but whatever your perspective coming into the discussion, let's talk.


Daniel Rainey said:
To kick off this discussion, let me offer a little perspective (admittedly with my own bias built in) about where we've come from and where we are with ODR.

In 1996, the first articles about online dispute resolution (ODR) were published, followed closely by books about ODR by Ethan Katsh and Janet Rifkin, and Colin Rule. In 1997, I was working with the National Mediation Board to find ways to integrate technology into the dispute resolution work the agency was doing in the labor management arena. In 2003, Ethan, Janet, Colin, and I began to see a convergence of interests associated with the commercial, fourth party work they were doing and the conflict management/case management work I was doing. In 2004, Ethan and I were part of a team that won the first of two NSF grants to study the impact of technology on dispute resolution, and that work is still ongoing today.

One could visualize the ODR world in a number of ways, but one way that hits home with me is to think of the continual divergence and re-convergence of interests surrounding commercial disputes (particularly those generated online) and interests surrounding the use of technology to conduct, in whole or in part, more "traditional" ADR work outside the commercial realm.

In the mid-1990's, it was pretty hard to find anyone outside a small band of evangelical converts to technology willing to endorse the usefulness of ODR - the "I've gotta look 'em in the eye" mentality was very strong, and it was not unusual for members of our group to present panels at professional meetings where the panel outnumbered, or nearly outnumbered, the audience.

The situation seems to have changed radically. The annual international ODR conferences now draw hundreds of conflict resolution professionals from around the world to talk about dispute resolution technology, and at the last ACR conference one of our ODR panels (scheduled in the last slot on the last day when city tours of Chicago were being offered) drew a crowd that filled the room. The world-wide conversation about ODR now is lively, and routinely demonstrates the common interests of a wide range of dispute resolution professionals in a wide range of venues.

The question I'd like to use to start off this discussions is, simply, "why has ODR now seemingly become an assumed part of the ADR mainstream instead of a fringe idea?"

Your answer, of course, may be that it hasn't become mainstream, or you make take exception to the thumbnail picture of the state of ODR that I've drawn. That's fine, too - but whatever your perspective coming into the discussion, let's talk.
I certainly agree that resistance to the idea of ODR has largely disappeared but so has a lot of resistance to the use of technology generally. People who wouldn't touch email ten years ago now have smartphones and are texting frequently. They experienced something of value and that changed their behavior. I often wonder whether the shift Dan has identified has anything to do with what some of us wrote. Possibly not.

Ethan Katsh said:


Daniel Rainey said:
To kick off this discussion, let me offer a little perspective (admittedly with my own bias built in) about where we've come from and where we are with ODR.

In 1996, the first articles about online dispute resolution (ODR) were published, followed closely by books about ODR by Ethan Katsh and Janet Rifkin, and Colin Rule. In 1997, I was working with the National Mediation Board to find ways to integrate technology into the dispute resolution work the agency was doing in the labor management arena. In 2003, Ethan, Janet, Colin, and I began to see a convergence of interests associated with the commercial, fourth party work they were doing and the conflict management/case management work I was doing. In 2004, Ethan and I were part of a team that won the first of two NSF grants to study the impact of technology on dispute resolution, and that work is still ongoing today.

One could visualize the ODR world in a number of ways, but one way that hits home with me is to think of the continual divergence and re-convergence of interests surrounding commercial disputes (particularly those generated online) and interests surrounding the use of technology to conduct, in whole or in part, more "traditional" ADR work outside the commercial realm.

In the mid-1990's, it was pretty hard to find anyone outside a small band of evangelical converts to technology willing to endorse the usefulness of ODR - the "I've gotta look 'em in the eye" mentality was very strong, and it was not unusual for members of our group to present panels at professional meetings where the panel outnumbered, or nearly outnumbered, the audience.

The situation seems to have changed radically. The annual international ODR conferences now draw hundreds of conflict resolution professionals from around the world to talk about dispute resolution technology, and at the last ACR conference one of our ODR panels (scheduled in the last slot on the last day when city tours of Chicago were being offered) drew a crowd that filled the room. The world-wide conversation about ODR now is lively, and routinely demonstrates the common interests of a wide range of dispute resolution professionals in a wide range of venues.

The question I'd like to use to start off this discussions is, simply, "why has ODR now seemingly become an assumed part of the ADR mainstream instead of a fringe idea?"

Your answer, of course, may be that it hasn't become mainstream, or you make take exception to the thumbnail picture of the state of ODR that I've drawn. That's fine, too - but whatever your perspective coming into the discussion, let's talk.
Your right on the mark Dan. In the last 15 years ODR has synchronized with ADR practice as human communication has synchronized with technology. Because technology has become ubiquitous ODR applications have been melting into automated customer relations, human resources, and student management systems.
ODR has become part of the ADR mainstream because a vast majority of us have changed how we communicate. This same change in communication has changed what ADR practitioners are willing to accept as a legitimate process for resolving dispute.
One of the things I firmly believe is that dispute resolution in all its forms is at base a communication enterprise - if you change the way we communicate, you have to have an impact on dispute resolution in some way, and I think the idea of online communication tools being "of value" is on the money - they do things we want them to do that we can't do without them, and that changes the nature of our daily communication.

Bill, I tend to not think of ODR as just online mediation - I use quite a few online tools to help parties prepare for sessions, communicate effectively in sessions (f2f and online), and keep up with information and work between sessions. I get the sense that a lot of practitioners are using technology this way without actually doing entire mediation sessions online. I think there is a reason that most of what I call "virtual table" software (comprehensive platforms that offer a full online "table") doesn't really take off - the majority of third parties have a practice that includes and will continue to include some f2f work - a comprehensive platform isn't as valuable to them (me) as targeted software that lets me do some specific function well online and then move on. I think this mirrors the way we use communication technology generally.

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