ODR Industry Summit and International ODR Forum

From Leah Wing:

Dear Colleagues,

A reminder that the upcoming International Online Dispute Resolution Forum co-hosted by the National Center for State Courts and the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution takes place on October 29-30, 2019 in Williamsburg, VA. There will also be a pre-conference workshop (October 28) on case studies of court-implemented ODR.  For more information or to submit a proposal to present (by April 5), go to this website.  Here is a description of the conference and information about submitting proposals to present at the conference.

Also, see an interesting update about a recent gathering, ODR Industry Summit, summarized below by Paul Embley, National Center for State Courts.


Leah Wing
Co-director, National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution
Senior Lecturer II, Legal Studies Program
Dept. of Political Science
UMASS Amherst

Paul Embley’s summary:

Recently we held an ODR Industry Summit, specifically designed for vendors in the ODR market.  It was quite successful.  You can see some of the highlights below.


Denver, Colorado.  March 2019—More than 50 vendors, court managers, legal specialists and technologists gathered March 4-5 in Denver to discuss Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) trends and opportunities for courts.  The 2019 ODR Vendor Summit facilitated a unique exchange of ideas and information between courts, partners, and vendors in the ODR space.

Sessions and facilitated discussions focused on key topics from a variety of perspectives.  Court managers from several states outlined digital transformation strategies and described some court ODR “wish-list” development priorities, highlighting some of the variance in user requirements.  Vendors challenged court managers to ensure their Requests for Proposals and implementation timelines were suited to the dynamic environment of technology innovation.  Economist and court technology guru Dr. Thomas Clarke identified the enormous market potential for ODR vendors.

While ODR is not uniquely an access to justice initiative, summit participants considered ways it could be the key to finally cracking access barriers.  Where targeted initiatives over the past 20 years have failed to deliver meaningful improvement, ODR has real potential to dramatically improve both access and fairness where other efforts have fallen short.

Access isn’t the only “user” issue ODR participants discussed.  When people do utilize the courts, adversarial processes set them up forbad outcomes; individuals are often worse off for having gone to court.  Presentations and discussions addressed ways ODR technologies can help de-escalate conflict and deliver better outcomes, as well as streamline and improve court efficiency.

Summit breakout sessions focused on usability, process re-engineering, and fairness — top priorities identified by participants. As vendors and court managers addressed complex issues together, ideas emerged that participants hope will make their way into product offerings as well as changes to court processes and the consumer experience with courts.

Participants also discussed the complexities of legal authority, governance, and funding sources that are barriers to courts making significant changes.  To succeed, court managers and vendors alike agreed that courts must simplify the law, court rules, and processes – not simply “strap technology” on to existing business practices.  The event generated new connections within the vendor community and facilitated a robust exchange of ideas and information that will benefit both vendors and court managers going forward.

The gathering was part of a partnership between the National Center for State Courts and The Pew Charitable Trusts to modernize the nation’s civil legal system by piloting and evaluating the most promising technologies and tools to assist people without access to a lawyer.

Summit participants, the broader court community, and anyone interested in ODR can continue the conversation at the 2019 International ODR Forum co-hosted by NCSC and the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution on October 29-30.  A pre-conference workshop on October 28 will feature in-depth case studies of court-implemented ODR.

Paul Embley
Technology Services
National Center for State Courts

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