Monday, March 23, 2020

Online Dispute Resolution - Here to Stay?

With the Coronavirus crisis severely curtailing the practice of law in courthouses across the country, many are turning to settling cases using readily available technology. Mediations have been conducted by Zoom, GoToMeeting and Skype, as well as telephone and text. There is no barrier to attending using off-the-shelf equipment and simple apps available for download. Though we have utilized these methods before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was usually due to the unavailability of a party in person and to enable remote attendance at a mediation conference. Because trial dockets across the country are now in disarray, mediation of pending cases provides the soonest means of self-determining an outcome to cases. Online Dispute Resolution or ODR solutions can be accessed from the comfort of your couch-- talk about social distancing! As with traditional mediation, online mediation allows the mediator to adapt the process to address the particular needs of parties. Caucuses are still possible, ensuring confidentiality and candor in negotiation. As these participants can attend from their businesses or homes, there are reduced costs and less time expended overall in convening the process. Access problems are no longer an issue with the use of cell phone applications widely available for devices of all stripes with the most popular communication platforms in the marketplace. Some will say there are disadvantages to not being in person, such as the ability to read the room or to poke your head into a caucus for a "Would you, could you?" Of course, there is a 3,000 year tradition of face-to-face mediation, but that doesn't mean ODR cannot be effectively employed in many types of cases. Whether a settlement is reached or not, much is still learned by parties and counsel through the exercise. We shall see what the future of this uncertain time holds and it will eventually pass, but it is likely ODR will be adopted by many a dispute resolver and their clients. Stay healthy out there!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Order Curtails Courts in Florida, So Mediate!

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida today ordered most in person legal proceedings in the state courts be suspended for a minimum of two weeks due to the COVID-19 virus. The order takes effect Monday. Local judges will use remote electronic means of conducting legal proceedings whenever possible. The order will be extended or modified as needed in the future and is subject to existing constitutional requirements. Under Florida's Constitution, the Chief Justice is the chief administrative officer of the state court system and can issue orders with statewide effect. This is the first time a limit on face-to-face proceedings has been ordered since Florida’s state courts system was unified by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1972. The court found these measures are needed because a public health emergency exists, requiring social distancing to reduce transmission of the Coronavirus which is now a pandemic. The order is designed to slow the spread of infectious disease by eliminating gatherings of the public such as jury duty and trials. However, mediation remains available to litigants in the absence of court proceedings and can be conducted by remote attendance or online dispute resolution (ODR), which my firm offers. We expect the business of dispute resolution will go on with the help of technology, allowing attendees the opportunity to participate without spreading infection. See more on our ODR options here-- and the court's full order here--

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

ADR Rules & Policy Vacancies

The Supreme Court of Florida's Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Rules and Policy needs members. This is a powerful committee that recommends changes to existing rules and implements new ones via proposals submitted for oral argument following public comment. The Florida Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) is currently accepting applications for eight member appointments to the Committee on ADR Rules and Policy. Appointments are made by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida based upon competence, specialized knowledge, experience in ADR processes, and a commitment to the time necessary to be an active contributor to the committee’s work. The committee consists of 17 volunteer members and may include mediation trainers, Florida Supreme Court certified mediators, arbitrators, trial court administrators, parenting coordinators, attorneys, and judges. Generally, members are appointed for staggered three-year terms. However, these terms will begin July 1, 2020, and end November 30, 2023. No member shall serve more than nine years. According to the official announcement, the committee provides the Florida Supreme Court with recommendations relating to ADR legislation, and all aspects of ADR policy and rules including, but not limited to, model ADR practices, mediator certification and renewal requirements, continuing education requirements, and mediation training program requirements. Letters of interest and current résumés may be submitted on or before April 10, 2020, to: Florida Dispute Resolution Center, Supreme Court Building, 500 S. Duval Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399 or fax (850) 922-9290 or See link here--