April 29, 2020 – The Indiana Lawyer profiled experts in online dispute resolution and online mediation. The article, by Olivia Covington, featured experts such as Doug Van Epps, director of the Michigan Court’s Office of Dispute Resolution, and Pew Charitable Trusts’ Erika Rickard. The article also uses Michigan’s MI-Resolve system as a case study showing the benefits.
Doug Van Epps, director of the Michigan Courts’ Office of Dispute Resolution, said he has worked on access to justice issues for 20-plus years. In his experience, ‘there’s a very high probability that, given the opportunity, you can work things out.’
Some cases are better suited for a nonadversarial setting, Van Epps said. In a landlord-tenant dispute, for example, it’s better for all parties if no one walks away feeling like a ‘winner’ or ‘loser.’
What’s more, Van Epps continued, ODR can help close the affordability gap between those who can afford counsel and those who can’t. By using online negotiation tools, parties avoid the time and expense of taking off work, finding childcare and paying for parking.from “Working it out online: mediation goes digital amid COVID-19“, Olivia Covington in The Indiana Lawyer, April 29, 2020
Rickard and Van Epps both suggest that courts can use ODR as a tool to address backlogs of cases, exacerbated in this sheltering-in-place.