ODR Forum - Visualizing the Future

Moderated by Colin Rule, Ethan Katsh, and Jeff Aresty

These are exciting times for Online Dispute Resolution.  New technology, new laws, new providers, and an unprecedented amount of attention from the private and public sectors are propelling ODR to the front of the conversation.  Combined with the disruption technology is bringing to the law, the next few years promise to be an exciting time for the ODR field, filled with both promise and challenge.  Come join this discussion to visualize the future for ODR, both near term and longer term.  We want to collaboratively identify the top priorities for the field, and brainstorm a game plan to respond.  This forum will also serve as a source of material and design for the next ODR Forum, which will be held in Silicon Valley June 25-27, 2014 (odr2014.org).

Moderator Bios:

 

Colin Rule is COO of Modria.com, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley.  From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now eDeliberation.com) which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of Mediate.com, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Creighton UniversitySouthern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University.

Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He currently blogs at Novojustice.com, and serves on the boards of RESOLVE and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. He holds a Master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

 

 

Director, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution
Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies, University of Massachusetts

Professor Katsh is widely recognized as the founder of the field of online dispute resolution (ODR). Along with Janet Rifkin, he conducted the eBay Pilot Project in 1999 that led to eBay’s current system that handles over sixty million disputes each year. With Professor Rifkin, he wrote Online Dispute Resolution: Resolving Conflicts in Cyberspace (2001), the first book about ODR. Since then, he has published numerous articles about ODR and co-edited Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice, which received the International Institute for Conflict Resolution book award for 2012.

Professor Katsh is a graduate of the Yale Law School and was one of the first legal scholars to recognize the impact new information technologies would have on law. In The Electronic Media and the Transformation of Law (Oxford University Press, 1989) and Law in a Digital World (Oxford University Press, 1995, he predicted many of the changes that were to come to law and the legal profession. His articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Legal Forum, and other law reviews and legal periodicals. His scholarly contribution in the field of law and technology has been the subject of a Review Essay in Law and Social Inquiry.

Professor Katsh has served as principal dispute resolution consultant for the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), a federal agency mandated to provide mediation in Freedom of Information Act disputes. He is currently assisting the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in a study of disputes involving electronic medical records. During 2010-2011, he was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Haifa (Israel). He has been Visiting Professor of Law and Cyberspace at Brandeis University, is on the Board of Advisors of the Democracy Design Workshop, the legal advisory board of the InSites E-governance and Civic Engagement Project, the Board of Editors of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was principal dispute resolutin advisor to SquareTrade.com and is Chairman of the Board of Modria.com. His principal current research concern involves issues related to health care and, more particularly, to disputes over electronic health records.

Since 1996, Professor Katsh has been involved in a series of activities related to online dispute resolution. He participated in the Virtual Magistrate project and was founder and co-director of the Online Ombuds Office. In 1997, with support from the Hewlett Foundation, he and Professor Rifkin founded the National Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts. During the Summer of 1999, he co-founded Disputes.org, which later worked with eResolution to become one of the first four providers accredited by ICANN to resolve domain name disputes. From 2004 - 2010, Professor Katsh was co-Principal Investigator, with Professors Lee Osterweil and Lori Clarke and Dr. Norman Sondheimer of the UMass Department of Computer Science, of two National Science Foundation funded projects to model processes of online dispute resolution. This work was also coordinated with the United States National Mediation Board. Professor Katsh is currently co-principal investigator in an NSF-funded project "The Fourth Party: Improving Computer-Mediated Deliberation through Cognitive, Social and Emotional Support." The frequently mentioned metaphor of technology as a “Fourth Party” was first proposed in Katsh and Rifkin’s Online Dispute Resolution (2001).

Professor Katsh has chaired the International Forums on Online Dispute Resolution, held in Geneva in 2002 and 2003, Melbourne in 2004, Cairo in 2006, Liverpool in 2007, Hong Kong in 2007, Victoria (Canada) in 2008, Haifa (Israel) in 2009, Buenos Aires in 2010, Chennai (India) in 2011 and Prague in 2012. The 2013 ODR Forum will be held in Montreal, June 16-18, 2013. Professor Katsh received the Chancellor's Medal and gave the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Faculty Lecture in October 2006. Recent articles include "Technology and the Future of Dispute Systems Design" in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review (2012) (with Orna Rabinovich-Einy) and"Is There An App For That? Electronic Health Records (EHRs) And A N... 74 Law and Contemporary Problems 31 (2011).

 

Jeffrey M. Aresty, Esq. is a lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts and has been involved in international business law and the role of technology in the transformation of the practice of law for almost three decades. He is a past  chair of the American Bar Association Section of International Law’s Information Services, Technology, and Data Protection Committee and currently the deputy program chair; and has volunteered in other capacities for the ABA and the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Mr. Aresty is the founder and current President of Internetbar.org, Inc. which leads the technology and rule of law project, PeaceTones, for the World Justice Forum. The initial focus of The PeaceTones Project was designed to  create sustainable income opportunities for individuals from developing areas and conflict zones; The Project selects artists from target areas around the world, and digitalizes their work (creating audio files, and cover art). The resulting files are then organized into albums and sold online. Then 90% of the revenues are returned to the artists with a portion of the money going towards a community project (updating utilities, providing internet facilities, creating artist's co-ops).

Additionally, Mr. Aresty is a Fellow at the Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts. His involvement in the Center centers on promoting the use of online dispute resolution technology as an alternate to traditional methods. His ongoing law-technology activities concern (1) e-lawyering training, including ODR and (2) initiating global law reform in online communities.

Among Mr. Aresty’s accomplishments are initiating and directing the “ Computer College” program (1983-1987) that assisted lawyers in bringing computers into law practice and co-founding the ABA’s TECHShow in 1987. He co-edited three books on cross cultural influence in international business and e-commerce for the ABA, titled “The ABA Guide to International Business Negotiations”. In his position as the Reporter of the ABA’s e-lawyering Task Force (www.elawyering.org), Mr. Aresty wrote several articles on the technical, legal and practical implications of the practice of law in Cyberspace.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi everyone, very excited about this discussion -- more is happening in the world of ODR than ever before.  We're eager to brainstorm with you about the biggest opportunities, and how we can work together to deliver on the promise they represent.  It's great to see demand for ODR grow around the world, but we need to ensure that our commitment to ethical, effective ODR continues to set the agenda as more and more projects pop up around the world.

The next ODR Forum will be hosted in Silicon Valley (San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA) from June 25-27, 2014.  Visit odr2014.org for a little more information -- but we'll have some exciting announcements over the next day or two that we'll share as well.  We're still working on the agenda, so please post ideas here!

And these opportunities may already be on everyone's radar, but just to make sure everyone is aware:

UNCITRAL's ODR Working Group: http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/commission/working_groups/3Online_...

The EU ODR Directive: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=aeb835e3-4ab5-4023-a0...

The BC Civil Tribunal Law: http://www.slaw.ca/2013/10/07/bcs-new-civil-resolution-tribunal/

Please post about more initiatives in here -- word is legislation is coming soon to promote ODR in Colombia, China, and many other countries as well.

So please post and let us know your thoughts, hopes, and fears for the future of ODR.

rah

Hello from Germany,

I think, that one of the most important challenges of ODR in the next years will be to find a more or less unique standard in the different ways of ODR, especially in mediation. In the last two years we developed a special Cross-Border-Mediation-Training based on our EC founded project EuroNetMed. The main target was to find a standard which fits more or less all needs of the mediators within the EU. And that appered nearly as impossible, because especially inside the EU we find 28 different countries with 28 different mediation acts. OK, the´ve in common the EC-directive for mediation but the way to work these benchmarks out are very different.

So the question is: Can we establish unique standards? Estabilishing worldwide unique trainings would probably be a good first step. And, of course, working/training with different main ODR-systems is a must for every international working

ADR/ODR professional.

Looking really forward to your comments! 

Welcome to all!

After the energizing and incredibly informative ODR Forum held at the University of Montreal and its Cyberjustice Laboratory came to a close a few months ago, several people present asked when would the Forum be held in the US?  Colin Rule took the lead and said it was time for the forum to be held in Silicon Valley - and since then, he has been tireless in his efforts to make the 14th ODR forum the one where the technologists and the online justice marketplace meet up and reinvent the justice system.

When I first became involved with the ODR Forums and Cyberweek about 10 years ago, it was clear to me that Ethan Katsh had gathered an eclectic group of individuals from many disciplines and many countries who all shared one vision - access to justice could be improved by the provident use of technology.  For me, I felt that technology alone could only make a limited impact in access to justice if the focus of "technology for justice" efforts was limited to making changes within the existing justice structures.   In fact, private online dispute marketplaces built into the auction marketplace of eBay (led by Colin) demonstrated just how to make ODR a customer service/trust building tool.  But with so many places in the world where you could point and say - access to traditional justice doesn't exist here - my question was, and, still is, where are the innovative justice systems that could make a difference?   To say that the laws don't allow it is not an answer. 

One just has to look at the UNCITRAL Working Group III deliberations on ODR over the past 3 years to see how the conflict between sovereign nations who are protecting their 'rule of law' turf and others who want to reinvent justice systems using technology in innovative ways - by using private law systems which are built into the terms of service which are accepted by parties regardless of their sovereign connection, limits the growth of the online dispute resolution field.  And, access to justice - or, more broadly, access to economic opportunity which a proper justice system should make accessible to all its citizens, was left in a political stalemate.

That's where the ODR 2014 is attempting to fill the void.  And so, the ODR 2014 forum has targeted the growth of the collaborative economy, where entrepreneurs have come up with unique marketplace opportunties, and terms of service agreements that bind participants to a single set of rules if they want to participate, as the trend for all of us to embrace, to expand access to justice approaches by linking innovative uses of technology with private justice approaches that parties can adopt without regard to sovereign rules.

We are looking forward to your ideas about the upcoming forum - it is a unique opportunity for all of us to grow our field together.

Jeff Aresty

Patric wrote: "Can we establish unique standards? Estabilishing worldwide unique trainings would probably be a good first step. And, of course, working/training with different main ODR-systems is a must for every international working ADR/ODR professional."

I'm a fan of standards. We've had lots of these efforts over the years, from EMCOD to ISO to the ABA to the Canadian government. We discussed these standards a little bit in the ODR and government forum. I'd maybe go a bit further, and say that we should consider qualifications and a membership organization for ODR providers and neutrals. We didn't do that in the ADR field, and it eventually came back to bite us. What do people think -- is it time for ODR to professionalize?

Jeff wrote: "...the ODR 2014 forum has targeted the growth of the collaborative economy, where entrepreneurs have come up with unique marketplace opportunties, and terms of service agreements that bind participants to a single set of rules if they want to participate, as the trend for all of us to embrace, to expand access to justice approaches by linking innovative uses of technology with private justice approaches that parties can adopt without regard to sovereign rules."

Jeff, thank you for all your great work thinking about the forum this coming year -- at this point it is no exaggeration to say that IBO is a co-host and co-facilitator for the conference. We're going to have an incredible range of speakers, from Facebook to Task Rabbit to AirBNB to eBay and Google and more. All of them are resolving disputes, but none of them participate in our ODR gatherings. This conference is a chance to bring them together with ODR experts for a rich, two-way learning dialogue. And the first ODR hackathon -- the "Tech for Justice" hackathon, coordinated by Ruha and Hastings -- will bring in young lawyers and techies to think about how technology can help people find redress and access to justice. In that vein, I'm delighted that Jim Silkenat, the current President of the ABA, will be able to join us, along with the deans at Stanford and Hastings law schools. I think the private sector is definitely leading the way in ODR, in some cases without even knowing that ODR exists. The time has come to close the circle, and introduce everyone doing this work to each other!

rah

I think that pulling together, as Colin suggests,  of everybody dealing with ODR, even if they don't present themselves as such or think of themselves as such, is definitely one of the most important things the field can do at this point. For a while, I posted blog pieces on ODR.info and ADRHub.com about people and organizations dealing in ODR, but under other names and outside of the dispute resolution community. I stopped doing so not because the pool dried up, but on the contrary - it simply wasn't news anymore!

Learning from these professionals, and how they have developed their services for their marketplaces, might be very informing to those "on the inside" of the dispute resolution world who have a world of knowledge but might lack an "in" to the marketplace. I'd suggest we not act the way we acted, as a field, in promoting ADR - offering training courses and our knowledge to insurance and car salespeople, as if they needed it, instead of learning from them. We would probably be wise to ask some of those ODR-by-other-names folks to take the mike and enlighten us.

My two cents. This is very exciting!

Noam

Noam, you make an excellent point.  eBay now doesn't talk about its ODR any more, because they don't have anyone inside who is part of the ODR field -- but the program there is bigger than ever.  Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft -- they all do tons of ODR, but they don't call it that.  Comcast, Verizon, airlines, utilities -- they're resolving tens of thousands of disputes a day.  We need to engage these folks and bring them into the conversation.  I'm working on it!

rah

Patric and Noam, thanks for contributing to this. Technology has a way of blurring boundaries so it should not be surprising that the field of ODR is not well defined around the edges. If Facebook, etc. are now in the ODR business, that is all to the good. We need more high visibility ODR success stories and one facet or goal of the Forum in June might be to collect them and even publish them. I would be happy to devote ODR.info to such a venture but it would be nice to have a volunteer author or editor for this.

Ethan

Ethan,

thank´s for your statement. You are looking for a volunteer? I would like to do this! Maybe the best will be to exchange our contact-details to talk about it in detail. My mail: p.illigen@dma-essen.de. Looking forward.

Sounds like the Silicon Valley ODR meeting is going to be one not to miss. Lots of new voices and chances for connection. Each time new voices join in of course, the chance for new synergies exits (magic can happen). However, so does the challenge to keep everyone understanding each other. Moves toward consensus approaches or standards takes some shared "languaging" of  the problems and needed solutions. So, good facilitators and enough time may be key. For me, the idea of an ODR hackathon also is very attractive. ODR specific APIs would be awesome to play/work with if some were made available.

It is wonderful to see the increased recognition of the really broad array of entities already utilizing ODR--even if they use it as a 'rose under any other name.'   Plans to include a number of them at the next ODR Forum will definitely serve to jumpstart further joint initiatives and cross-fertilization.  There seems such potential when we take a '360' approach to who joins these conversations:  those who are designing systems (whether they are ODR or customer service or bottomline oriented!), those implementing and using the systems--from end users to intervenors.  It is so exciting to see the true fluidity and inclusivity that such a view entails for ODR's future growth. 

When thinking about the future of ODR I want to consider how we as a society will begin to integrate social boundaries and ques that exist in face to face mediation and how that will look in an online space. For example, based on the research of a Duke Law essay regarding the pros and cons of cyber-mediation, Joseph W. Goodman touches on the fact that he sees no real or feasible substitute for face to face communications and negotiations. Further he points out that cyber-space is not a "mirror-image" of the real world. This is an important critique because as people move to rapidly upload nearly every aspect of their lives to the internet, we have to consider what kinds of conflicts will be generated by this cyber-migration.

To take an example from pop culture, in the 'Facebook' movie Justin Timberlake's character has a great line where he explains that society lived on farms, then we migrated to cities and town, now, we are migrating and living on the internet.

In alot of ways the web facilitates a wider-array of issues that can be addressed (i.e. using video conferencing in cross-border disputes) but one important aspect of the future is to ask, what kind of disputes and conflicts will 'living online' and having online identities generate, and how can ODR specifically address these issues? 

I think it is absolutely true what Colin Rue said above, "Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft -- they all do tons of ODR, but they don't call it that.  Comcast, Verizon, airlines, utilities -- they're resolving tens of thousands of disputes a day.  We need to engage these folks and bring them into the conversation.  I'm working on it!"

For me, the part of the future of ODR is in partnerships with technology companies so that the structure of the web can be there to facilitate a positive/civil digital landscape but also so that when conflicts and disputes do occur, there is a digital answer to a digital issue.

Ethan 

It would be a great idea to circulate genuine ODR success stories.  The idea of using technology to try to settle a dispute is still fairly new.   

If people could see that it worked for other people - people like them - then they may agree to consider ODR as an option to settle their own dispute.  Some of the people may have their own lawyer, some of them may not,.....would ODR still be a viable option for them?

Ethan Katsh said:

Patric and Noam, thanks for contributing to this. Technology has a way of blurring boundaries so it should not be surprising that the field of ODR is not well defined around the edges. If Facebook, etc. are now in the ODR business, that is all to the good. We need more high visibility ODR success stories and one facet or goal of the Forum in June might be to collect them and even publish them. I would be happy to devote ODR.info to such a venture but it would be nice to have a volunteer author or editor for this.

Ethan

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