More and more disputing parties and attorneys are turning to online dispute resolution (ODR) during extended Shelter In Place, and online mediation is most likely the new “normal,” here to stay. It may be reassuring to know that this is not a new trend, and the platform for ODR has been in development and use for many years.

Colin Rule has been a pioneer in the field of ODR for over 25 years, and we first met him in the early 2000’s when he was developing the Ebay and PayPal dispute resolution systems, the first large scale ODR platform. In this podcast for the American Bar Association, Colin discusses the origins of ODR, and how it has evolved over the years and is now used by courts with matters ranging from traffic citations, to property tax appeals, to family and employment law cases.  Ultimately, all ODR technologies evolve out of face-to-face practices because dispute resolution has historically been a face-to-face experience.

At Pactum Factum, we offer “in person” virtual mediations using Zoom. Pactum Factum Principal Lucia Kanter St. Amour is a Certified Online Mediator. Unlike the use of algorithms and other technologies used for simple e-commerce disputes, the “in person” aspect of mediation is quite an important psychological component of the process. Research shows that trust in an experienced mediator is the same whether a mediation participant interacts with that mediator via video or face-to-face (i.e. physically in the same room). After some pre-mediation preparation, we join the meeting as a group for the initial joint session, and then enable Zoom Breakout Rooms (or not – we have other options) for the private caucusing. The beauty of online mediation is it’s versatility: it can be scheduled in smaller chunks than the traditional “one big day” of brick and mortar mediation, and we can blend various modalities throughout the process. For more information about online mediation, visit our Forms and FAQ’s pages.

Lucia Kanter St. Amour, Pactum Factum Principal