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Court-connected ODR has already shown itself capable of dramatically improving access to justice by eliminating barriers rooted in the fact that courts traditionally resolve disputes only during certain hours, in particular physical places, and only through face-to-face proceedings. Given the centrality of courthouses to our system of justice, too many Americans have discovered their rights are too difficult or costly to exercise. As court-connected ODR systems spread, offering more inclusive types of dispute resolution services, people will soon find themselves with the law and the courts at their fingertips. But robust access to justice requires more than just raw, low-cost opportunities to resolve disputes. Existing ODR platforms seek to replicate in-person procedures, simplifying and clarifying steps where possible, but litigants without representation still proceed without experience, expertise, guardrails, or the ability to gauge risk or likely outcomes. Injecting ODR with a dose of data science has the potential to address many of these shortfalls. Enhanced ODR is unlikely to render representation obsolete, but it can dramatically reduce the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” and, on some dimensions—where machines can outperform humans—next generation platforms may be a significant improvement.


An online version of this work is published at under a Creative Commons Open Access license CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 which permits re-use, distribution and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate credit to the original work is given. You may not distribute derivative works without permission. To view a copy of this license, visit . Originally published as Prescott, J.J. "Using ODR Platforms to Level the Playing Field: Improving Pro Se Litigation through ODR Design." In Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice, edited by David Freeman Engstrom, 286-304. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023. DOI: