ODR is More Than Zoom

Since the start of COVID-19, I’ve spoken to thousands of lawyers and dispute resolution practitioners about online dispute resolution (ODR). For most people, the focus is on Zoom. Zoom has been invaluable during the pandemic and ensures lawyers can continue to operate. However, the coupling of ODR and Zoom is only the beginning of the story. ODR is more than Zoom.

With continuing travel restrictions and development of vaccines looming, your practice or organization can benefit from various forms of ODR. Zoom, a synchronous technology, allows us to resolve issues in real time. Synchronous dispute resolution works for many disputes and organizations. There’s also asynchronous technology that can be highly effective. You can use text-based software, without fancy artificial intelligence or machine learning, to diagnose problems, create collaborative spaces for parties to work out issues, and construct spaces for conflict coaching. One example is email. Imagine if you had an online portal that helped parties figure out their issues, and maybe even resolve it, without your intervention. …

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As more people continue to stay home, the use of Zoom has exploded, along with report after report after report after report of privacy and security issues. Rumors of the U.S. Department of Justice not permitting its lawyers to use Zoom came in my inbox, with stories of friends of friends being in a meeting when someone “Zoombombed” them.

Zoom is secure, although you should be concerned about using it if you do not understand its basic security features. Business continues as usual for lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, and courthouses across the world (Canadian courthouse using Zoom , one of many stories), and we shouldn’t be afraid of this technology. …

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As millions of people across the world isolate themselves to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 to others (here’s guidance to stay safe from the CDC), the impact is especially felt in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) community. I’ve spoken to dozens of arbitrators and mediators after I launched a free resource to learn about Zoom. It’s important I share these concepts with everyone to prepare for what’s ahead and keep the ADR community moving.

Prepare Your Parties

As a mediator and arbitrator, you should know how to operate Zoom or your preferred online resolution tool (check out CREK). For Zoom, a reliable and easy-to-use video teleconference service, there are plenty of free resources provided by Zoom’s helpful tutorials (also check out Resources for Legal Slack group created by Lori Gonzalez). …


Simon Boehme

writing about online dispute resolution; vice president at legaler; founder and advisor at multiple legal tech companies; proudly from Kalamazoo, MI

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