Strengthening Online Dispute Resolution Justice
48 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 7, 2019
This paper adopts a systems-design approach to focus courts and lawyers on the hitherto unexamined question of how involving lawyers in the design, development, and implementation of online dispute resolution (ODR) programs, will strengthen ODR justice outcomes and court-delivered justice overall.
Behind the scenes of every courthouse in the United States today, justice system professionals are grappling with the same set of basic questions: how to get by on fewer resources, how to cope with the access to justice crisis, and how to provide better justice outcomes. To help solve these justice problems, courts have begun to appreciate technology’s potential to streamline processes, increase access, and reduce costs. Indeed, over the course of the past few years, courts across the United States have been designing and piloting online dispute resolution (ODR) systems. We are currently at a tipping point, at which court ODR, at once a new approach to caseflow management and a court-implemented alternative to litigation, is poised to become the default justice process in an increasing number of jurisdictions.
While court administrators, judges, ODR experts and the public have all been involved in the process of conceptualizing, designing, and implementing ODR systems in courts, one key stakeholder in the justice system has been conspicuously absent from the table: the legal profession. In the development of some ODR systems, lawyers have been excluded; in the design of other ODR systems, the lawyers, themselves have chosen to be absent from the design process. The result of this lack of lawyer involvement is that many of these court-annexed ODR systems effectively design lawyers out of the legal process itself. This has deep implications for the very nature of the procedural and substantive justice disputants will experience and receive in the ODR-infused court system. In this paper, we show how constructive engagement by and with the legal profession, with an eye towards justice rather than professional protectionism, can improve justice in Court ODR.
Keywords: Justice, Online dispute resolution, Lawyers, Court, Legal profession, Dispute resolution, Dispute system design, Court-annexed, Innovation
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