This week kicks off two online ODR classes: One for Dominican University in Chicago, the other for the Center for Innovative Justice Technology. The Dominican class is part of the university’s graduate program in dispute resolution, and the CIJT class is offered to dispute resolution professionals and attorneys who want to learn the basic issues related to the use of technology in their practices. The CIJT class is co-taught with Larry Bridgesmith, an attorney and educator from Nashville, Tennessee.
ACR is again this year doing a series of podcasts based on panel presentations at the upcoming conference in Cincinnati. This year, I’m involved in two panels, one on cross-border commercial disputes and one on “complex” cases. I’ll be presenting with Colin Rule for the commercial panel, and with NMB colleagues Terri Brown and Jim MacKenzie for the complex case panel. The podcast discussing the two panels can be accessed by clicking here: PODCASTS
I am happy to say that I will assume a seat on the Board of Directors for the Northern Virginia Mediation Service at the Board Meeting Scheduled for July 29, 2014. I have been associated with NVMS in tangential ways for some time, as an instructor for courses and as an occasional donor. Taking a seat on the Board will begin a more formal long-term relationship, to which I look forward. I very much believe in the NVMS mission: “NVMS provides the community with accessible, affordable, and appropriate conflict resolution and education services. We help people find collaborative approaches to achieve acceptable and enduring outcomes.” I’m sure working with like-minded practitioners and supporters will be a pleasure.
The International Mediation Institute – IMI – has established a task force with members from around the world to address issues related to the definition of ODR and standards that should apply to ODR practitioners and providers. I am happy to say that I am one of the task force members.
Volume 1, Issue 1 of the new International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution is now out and available. The first issue features articles by Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy, Mireze Philippe, Marc Lauritsen, and me. John Zeleznikow contributed a book review, and Colin Rule contributed a news roundup – both the book review and the news roundup will be regular features of the journal. Mohamed Abdel Wahab wrote the introduction, on behalf of the other two co-Editors-in-Chief (Ethan Katsh and me). Copies of the journal will be distributed at the ODR Forum in California later this month, and subscriptions, both hard copy and online, can be obtained by contacting the publisher, Eleven International Publishing, at www.elevenpub.com. The journal will be published twice yearly – the next volume will be available in December, 2014.
I am part of a new adventure, one that we hope will lead to an established online dispute resolution consulting practice. Robin West, David Leffler, Jeff Aresty, Julia Morelli, and I have formed a company called Fourth Party Solutions Corp. The 4PS above is a temporary visual for the company while we finalize formation and get our act together as a business.
On the 2nd of June, I will present one of the plenary keynotes for the 2014 Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (Conseil des tribunaux administratifs canadiens) in Ottawa. The keynote will focus on the use of technology in the practice of arbitration, using the National Mediation Board’s program as an example of some basic possibilities.
With regret, I have decided not to return for the second year of my contract with the SMU Dispute Resolution program. Many personal elements went into the decision, and I hope to maintain a relationship with the department as an adjunct, in much the same way I was teaching for them before beginning the new contract a year ago.
The first volume of The International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution is in the editing process now, and should be ready for distribution at the ODR Forum in San Francisco/San Jose in June, and the first volume should be free online. Here is a draft of the introduction to the journal’s first volume:
The publication of this, the first edition of the International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, marks an important milestone in the evolution of ODR: creation of a dedicated outlet for discussion, disputation, and theory-building in the increasingly complex border between “traditional” dispute/conflict engagement and technology.
The articles in this inaugural volume demonstrate the breadth of the impact of ODR, and the myriad directions from which one may approach the interaction of ADR and ODR. Katsh and Rabinvich-Einy discuss the disruptive nature of technology, particularly as it applies to the concept of justice and justice systems. Rainey outlines the profound nature of the impact of technology on the ethics of third party work. Abdel Wahab reviews the status of ODR as a field, while Philippe highlights the complexity involved in developing online arbitration for commercial disputes. Lauritsen explores the nature of decision-making and how technology can assist in dispute resolution environments, and Zeleznikow reviews a recent publication dedicated to a “Eurocentric” discussion of “agreement technologies.” Finally, in a feature that will appear in every volume, the most recent developments in ODR are outlined in “ODR News.”
As the co-Editors-in-Chief for this journal, we are dedicated to bringing into print and digital media the latest, most critical thinking about ODR, drawn from every corner of the globe – a globe that has, as the cliché goes, been made much smaller by the technology we use to create and resolve disputes.
I just attended the 2014 ABA Section of Dispute Resolution conference in Miami, Florida. In addition to the weather (the first real Spring weather I’ve felt this year) there were other “warming” things about this conference. First, of course, it was good to see colleagues face-to-face with whom I interact over the phone or online throughout most of the year. But this year the attention to technology and the attendance at the two ODR panels on which I participated was heartening. Ethan Katsh, Colin Rule, Jeff Aresty, and I conducted a panel entitled “Building an Online Justice System.” In years past, the four of us have joked that we would be happy if the audience outnumbered the presenters at ODR panels. This year, there was a good, knowledgeable crowd, with interest in the topic, and an awareness that things may, in fact, be changing a bit in the legal world. The other panel on which I participated with Susan Exon (La Verne Law School in California) and Harold Coleman (AAA in Los Angeles) was at one of the worst time slots in the conference – mid-afternoon on the last day of the conference with a sunshine-filled day outside. The room was packed to hear us talk about the fourth party impact on mediator ethics. As Colin said at dinner one evening, we don’t have the “is ODR legit?” discussions any more – we still have the “what is ODR and how do I fit in?” discussions, but there seems to be general acceptance of a conviction that some of us have had for a long time: the ubiquitous nature of information and communication technology in our society cannot help changing the practice of conflict engagement in all its forms.