For the past two years, I’ve been supporting a good friend through a dispute with an automotive performance shop. As a lifelong car enthusiast, his story his tragic. He had finally reached his goal of buying his dream car, a beautiful sports sedan, only to have the shop crash it on a final test drive. Because my friend had already signed off on the vehicle, the shop relinquished any blame or responsibility – cue two years of suits, stress, counter suits, frustration, most of my friend’s “free” time and money, money, money.
Of course, in the midst of it all, the pandemic struck and threw another wrench in his case. Now, the case hearing will be conducted over – wait for it – a phone call with a Judge. Can you imagine? Two years of bantering back-and-forth, paying attorney fees and seeing your smashed-up car every day, only to have oral arguments over the phone?
This poor guy.
It’s especially frustrating now that online dispute resolution (ODR) has become so widely adopted as the court system realizes the benefits of virtual justice options. Of course, ODR will not replace the physical courthouse for all case types but, in instances like that of my friend, small claims, landlord-tenant, bankruptcy, probate and many others, it can save the courts, mediators, arbitrators, attorneys and especially constituents a lot of time and money.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) reports that the average cost to close a civil suit is approximately $45,000 over a period of 180 days, or approximately 6 months. The crazy part is that most these cost drivers are not even directly tied to the case – paper, postage, file storage, face-to-face meetings, transportation, time off work and facility rental is a large chunk of it. By embracing justice as the process that it is, rather than a physical place, and hosting it in an accessible, online environment, all that unnecessarily wasted time, money and stress is cut out.
In less than a week, Brad Hunter, the Founder of the Collaborative Lawyers of Saskatchewan, will join us for a free, 60-minute webinar on how our online dispute resolution platform has revolutionized his expansive career in family law. Coat-tailing Brad’s story will be an end-to-end, use case-driven demonstration, courtesy of our own Terry Chaudhuri. And if you know Terry, you know his demos are relatable and anything but dry!
And just because I am so thoroughly geeked about this, I’ll be emceeing – introducing our speakers, and fielding all your questions as they come through.
Terry’s “test drive” demo will start attendees on the intuitive, 360-degree dashboard from which arbitrators and mediators manage and triage cases, and invite parties into their respective online “hearing” environments. From there, he’ll walk us through secure file sharing and video conferencing options, digital case workflow including eNotifications, calendar events, task assignments and payment portals, the digital settlement builder, electronic signing options, how to seamlessly escalate cases to the prosecutor or the court, and how practitioners can better manage their business with case statistics and KPI reporting. I could tell you more, but this webpage does a much better job.
Having worked in the justice community for a couple decades now, I’ve seen the consistent struggle to reach constituents – people cannot afford the time off work for hearings or the childcare costs, and oftentimes do not have a secure means of transportation to the courthouse. In many criminal instances, Plaintiffs cannot bear the emotional toll of seeing their offender face-to-face. Not to mention the financial burden that makes us all a little uneasy.
This pandemic has been horrific and not much of anything good has come of it. But, if there is any silver lining, it’s that we’ve been forced to rethink justice and be innovative in our approach to sustain it despite all circumstances. For the first time in a long time, default cases are plummeting because people can log onto their virtual hearing after dinner, electronically upload documents on their lunch break, or digitally sign agreements at their kid’s sport event. Asynchronous communication has enabled people to work at their own convenience, so it gets done faster. And I’ll tell you – despite the two-year journey my friend has been on, the virtual communications have really given him the cooling and reflection time he’s needed when responding back to the dealer’s claims. Having that time to walk away and vent, and come back to it with a clear mind, has kept emotion and unnecessary mudslinging out of his case.
Just like our ODR platform, this webinar is also, in a way, asynchronous. If your calendar is booked on Dec. 2nd at 2pm EST, then I hope you will register anyways and watch your emailed recording when you have the time. But, if you have questions, I recommend tuning in live so you can take advantage of the Q&A at the end.
If there’s anyone else who’s super excited about the opportunities of ODR, it’s my friend. He’s been through the ringer, and hopes that justice personnel everywhere hear his story and want better for their constituents. This Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful there are options like ODR available for us to build the better world we’re hoping for.
Have a great holiday, everyone!
Best Practices for Electronic Signature Solutions
There have been archives of content written about digitally signing documents at agencies, but most of that content overlooks the most obvious fact: not every agency signature process is the same, so how can a single type of electronic signature solution be the best fit?
Failing to address all your signature processes makes the solution nothing but a Band-Aid. It sounds absurd to have to say this, but it is a best practice at agencies to address all of their signature processes.
Check out a couple of different processes to see the differences in this blog post.
Online Dispute Resolution: Making Justice Effortless and Accessible
Join us for a webinar with the Founder of the Collaborative Lawyers of Saskatchewan, Brad Hunter. Journeying through Brad’s expansive legal experiences with this globally trusted online dispute resolution (ODR) platform, attendees will learn how to operate every case, from small claims and traffic violations to divorces and misdemeanors, from the highly secure Microsoft Azure Cloud-based system.
ODR’s comprehensive platform ensures increased access to justice and end-to-end, digital dispute resolution without parties ever stepping foot in a courthouse.
The “Wingspan Court”
After much innovative thinking and a lot of financial support from the CARES Act, The Washington County Circuit Court has finally established two, socially distanced, temporary courtrooms to clear its backlog of more than 600 lower-level felony and misdemeanor cases.
The Wingspan Event and Conference Center has been closed for the last six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic but, thanks to the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the Washington County Circuit Court and the local criminal justice system, the “Wingspan Court” is now in session.
In the Courts Today article, Washington County Board Chair Kathryn Harrington said, “By utilizing this available space, we’re not only addressing the rights of defendants to a ‘speedy trial’ during the coronavirus pandemic, but also improving our response time for crime victims who are seeking justice and resolution.”
Within the first eight days of operating in the Wingspan Court, 123 cases were resolved. CARES Federal Funding, however, expires at the end of 2020 and so, while an innovative solution, the “Wingspan Court” will only serve a short term.
What Can We Do For You?
ImageSoft guides courts through the various challenges of becoming a paperless court. Our industry-leading solutions offer a component model methodology to automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance.
ImageSoft is ready to help your court system reap the benefits from digital transformation.