Mind the Gap: Bringing Technology to the Mediation Table

46 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2019

Date Written: 2019


As technology impacts every aspect of our lives, all professions are exploring how to benefit from use of technology. Mediation is no exception. Since the mid-1990s, the field has explored applying technology to resolve conflict.

At an early point this exploration narrowed in on substituting physical convening with wholly-online processes. Conflating “technology” with “online,” however, left an entire practice area unaddressed, a gap we need to mind: application of technology to support traditional, in-person mediation processes. Indeed, today, most mediation processes are largely bereft of technology.

This article suggests that by not minding the gap, traditional mediation forgoes opportunities to improve its processes and its outcomes. Furthermore, it risks rendering the mediation profession and process unappealing to the next generation of potential clients and mediators. Conversely, by minding — and closing — the technological gap by incorporating helpful technologies into mediation practice and process, the field can realign with the changing characteristics of mediators and parties, and thrive. The article details ways in which technology can support in-person mediation, highlights areas of mediation practice particularly ripe for technological support, and suggests mindsets for considering technological solutions to mediation challenges. Finally, it suggests areas in which applying technology to mediation might help the field progress past some of its historical challenges and impasses.

Keywords: mediation, ADR, ODR, technology, practice, alternative dispute resolution, online dispute resolution, negotiation, conflict, conflict resolution, dispute, dispute resolution, online, change, future, disruption, neutrality, AI, big data, legal analytics

Suggested Citation

Carrel, Alyson and Ebner, Noam, Mind the Gap: Bringing Technology to the Mediation Table (2019). Journal of Dispute Resolution, 2019 (2), 1-45, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3421097

Alyson Carrel

Northwestern University - Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Noam Ebner (Contact Author)

Creighton University Heider College of Business ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States

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