This material is a pre-print before final peer-review and copyediting and has been published in revised form in Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice edited by David Freeman Engstrom, DOI:

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In a few short years, court-connected ODR has shown itself capable of dramatically improving access to justice by reducing or eliminating barriers rooted in the simple fact that courts have traditionally offered dispute resolution services only during certain hours, only in particular physical places, and primarily through traditional face-to-face proceedings. Given the monopoly that courthouses have long had on resolving many legal issues, too many Americans have discovered their rights are simply too difficult or costly to exercise. As court-connected ODR systems spread, offering new types of dispute resolution services everywhere and often at any time, people will soon find themselves with the law and the courts at their fingertips. But robust access to justice requires more than just the raw, low-cost opportunity 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 outperform humans (e.g., minimizing agency costs)—next generation platforms may be a significant improvement.


Courts | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law | Law and Economics | Law and Society | Litigation

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