Bricks and Mortar
In the Internet age, paper based activities are generally referred to as “bricks -
and - mortar”. Beginning in the mid 1990s arbitration and mediation began to increase dramatically. There are
not any good sources which reliability report the national, state or regional number of ADR activities. It
would be difficult to tabulate such numbers in part because of the confidential nature of ADR. Some national
organizations, such as the American Arbitration Association do report their total activities - however, they
are only a small piece of the total ADR pie.
The dramatic increase of ADR is perhaps best demonstrated by the formation of many
professional groups and associations. The American Bar Association formed the Section of Alternative Dispute
Resolution in1993 and with 17,000 current members it is one of the fastest growing sections. Most state bar
associations and many local bar associations have formed similar sections and committees. Most organizations
have By-Law provisions similar to those of the Maryland State Bar Associations Section of Alternative Dispute
Resolution which provides -
To act to improve the administration of justice and the use of alternative dispute
resolution processes throughout Maryland by study, research, reports and recommendations to the Governor of
Maryland, the Maryland Legislature, the Court of Appeals of Maryland or to any other public official,
legislative body, judiciary or judge, or any other governmental or public agency or body, and also the
The American Bar Association, The Association of Conflict Resolution and the
American Arbitration Association promulgated Model Standards of conduct for mediators.
Following the lead of the organized bar state rules committees have provided
standards for alternative dispute resolution and requirements for certification and training.
Most all federal agencies and each branch of the armed services have formal
alternative dispute resolution programs.
The Internet - Moving into the 21st Century
The ability of technology- especially the internet - to make many business processes
more efficient is now making it clear that online dispute resolution is the next frontier of alternative
dispute resolution. Courts have not yet adopted any form of Internet ADR. The internet promises to make more
disputes reachable by ADR and to facilitate the resolution of disputes faster and at a lower cost. But like
many shifts from paper to technology, a clear strategic pathway has yet to appear.
What is Online Dispute Resolution
Online Dispute Resolution provides the ability for two (or more) disparate parties
to settle their dispute using the Internet. Sometimes this involves lawyers and mediators and sometimes it
does not. It depends on the vehicle/provider that the parties agree to utilize to resolve their
History of Online Dispute Resolution
The concept of on-line dispute resolution (ODR) has been discussed in academic
circles since the mid 1990’s . Professor Ethan Katish was a leading researcher and developer of concepts of
ODR. From 1997-1999, Professor Katish mediated a variety of disputes online, involving domain name/trademark
issues, other intellectual property conflicts, disputes with Internet Service Providers, and others. In the
spring of 1999, he supervised a project with the online auction site eBay, in which over 150 disputes were
mediated during a two week period. During the summer of 1999, he co-founded Disputes.org, which later worked
with eResolution to become one of four providers accredited by ICANN to resolve domain name disputes. He is
also an adviser to SquareTrade.com, an Internet start-up focusing on online ADR. There are over 20 internet
companies listed on the ODR.info site which provide ODR online services.
How Can ODR Help ADR?
Online dispute resolution (ODR) promises to enable alternative dispute resolution
(ADR) to become more efficient, faster and less expensive. By achieving those three improvements ODR will
make ADR a real alternative to a greater number of disputes thereby bringing all of the advantages of ADR to
a greater number of people. An examination of the ADR process and barriers to ADR will allow a deeper
examination of the potential of ODR.
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