Discussion Forum: Game Changing Entry Barriers to ODR

ODR has not been static over the past few ways – and neither have the barriers associated with getting involved in the field.


In this forum, we invite you to relate to the following topics:

  • What issues have traditionally been cited, by practitioners and in the ODR literature, as barriers facing practitioners considering practicing ODR or incorporating it into their existing practice?
  • Do all these barriers still pertain today? What changes in the technological, commercial or legal landscape may have lowered or rendered moot some of these ‘old’ barriers?
  • What ‘new’ barriers might face practitioners considering beginning an ODR practice today – and are there any other barriers that we can foresee arising in the future?
  • How might these ‘new’ and ‘future’ barriers be surmounted?

Moderator Bios:


Dan Rainey

Principal in Holistic Solutions, Inc. (HSI), and Fourth Party Solutions Corp. (4PS) // Member, Board of Directors, InternetBar.Org (IBO) // Member, Board of Advisors, Modria.com // Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution // Adjunct member of the graduate faculty in dispute resolution at Creighton University, Dominican University and Southern Methodist University // Member, Editorial Board, Conflict Resolution Quarterly // Editor-In-Chief, The International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution // Member, Board of Directors, Northern Virginia Mediation Service (NVMS)//Chief of Staff, National Mediation Board.


Noam Ebner

Noam Ebner is a professor at the Werner Institute at Creighton University’s School of Law, where he chairs the online graduate program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Previously, he has taught and trained in the fields of mediation and negotiation in a dozen countries around the world, as well as practicing as an attorney and a mediator.

Noam’s research interests include negotiation pedagogy, trust and its role in dispute resolution, and Online Dispute Resolution. His work on these and other topics can be found at ssrn.com/author=425153 . Noam can be contacted at NoamEbner@creighton.edu


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In the distant past (if anything can be "distant" for a field that is less than 20 years old) I think the problem had to do with the expense of developing and marketing.  For example, I won't name the platform, but at the NMB early in the 2000's I subscribed to a platform for about $20,000 per year plus a per case fee, and it was very hard at that time to get very many parties to use it.  So I wound up spending $20K for an app that was basically not used.  I think a lot of others found themselves in the same place - training and learning a system, paying for a system, and then not being able to sell its use in an environment where most of the potential clients were not Internet friendly.  Now, on the other hand, we don't see a lot of push back from parties when we bring them apps that will save them time and money, and the cost of the apps has come way down due to the nature of the changes in coding and programming.  Again, I won't name the app, but I am currently using a license for an app that is about $5K per year, with the ability to scale up to as many users as I can attract on a cost-per-case basis.  That's a lot more affordable, and the app is now a lot more marketable than apps were several years ago.  There still aren't that may apps on the market that are really adjustable to fit any practice, and many want to offer services in addition to the app, but the situation is changing steadily, I think.

I think we may be  fighting shadows. Is it not the case that, in reality,  there are no entry barriers for ODR for the simple reason ODR is not an item to use in itself . It is simply a very broad description of a whole variety of processes and systems. Package a service that comes within the broad description,put it in a box with clear description of what people get when they buy it and open the box and it will sell or not according to how it is marketed. In other words, as Susskind once said about legal services in general, ODR ,but more specifically ODR driven services, need to be commoditised.  Done correctly then as with all marketing, the objections of  naysayers and worries of security quickly dissipate. 

I think that something we're seeing in here, Graham, is that most of these entry barriers exist/ed mainly in the minds of potential providers; a subset of those are in the minds of the potential providers, as they try to consider what is going on in the minds of their customers. Perhaps different types of those barriers need addressing in different ways. Packaging and marketing can certainly affect some of the external concerns - and therefore, some of the internal concerns that intertnalize these. Make sense?

Absolute sense ,Noam.  I suspect it will be the parties in dispute , not the professionals, who will really begin to drive the uptake of ODR and that will be the result of quality marketing of quality ODR.

 I guess we will all enjoy, some years in the future, when resolving online has become just such a natural part of our justice system, to look back over past Cyberweek discussions at our concerns way back now.  

I hope we don't look like this!


What a hoot!  Thanks for sharing.

Speaking of entry barriers, the new trade agreement that was just approved contains sections on e-commerce and dispute resolution - if one of the barriers to entry into ODR has been the lack of development opportunities for innovative systems, it seems to me that operationalizing  systems for the trade agreement will, like most large scale development efforts, have a spill over effect for those doing work that involves less volume.

Reading through this discussion, including between the lines of what has been written, and what has not been written, I get the sense that many people have a sense of 'Entry barriers? What entry barriers?' If that is the case, folks, than truly, we have reached a new phase in ODR's evolution. I'm sure I speak for Dan as well, when I say 'Not feeling any entry barriers?Good. Now go set the world of ODR on fire!'

Thanks so much to all those who shared, read, lurked and participated! What a great week this has been.

Let me echo that - thanks to all for participating.


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