In the current health crisis, you may have transitioned your practice online or you may be considering moving your practice online.
Here are some important things to think about when engaging in and transitioning to an Online Dispute Resolution practice.
1. Are your clients tech savvy?
Providing online services is a great way to keep helping clients during this strange time, but if your clients are not tech savvy it might be a fruitless and frustrating venture. There are many platforms for Online Dispute Resolution and some are more user friendly than others. Consider which will be best for you and your demographic of clients.
2. Are you clients tech wise?
If you have determined a platform you think will be user friendly enough for yourself and your clients, the next thing you might want to consider is whether or not your clients are tech wise. Many people are tech savvy and make foolish, unsafe decisions online everyday. To protect yourself and your clients, you will want to canvass with your clients how they plan on engaging with the platform and what technology they plan on using. You might want to consider giving your clients a check list or putting together an internet safety screening document to review with them before engaging in your Online Dispute Resolution Process.
3. Is the dispute appropriate for an ODR/ADR process?
As with any Alternative Dispute Resolution process, it is important in Online Dispute Resolution to screen for appropriateness before engaging in the process. Using a MASIC, or other screening tool might work well, but you may want to craft your own to make it more specific to the unique type of service you are providing. You want to make sure that you and your clients are safe during and following the process and you will want to ensure you are still conducting safety planning when there are safety concerns. If you do determine through your safety screening that the process will not be appropriate for your clients, it is helpful to provide your clients with a list of alternative practitioners or process options that are available to them. For example, if online mediation will not work for the situation, maybe you have a colleague who is offering online arbitration services and you can refer your clients to them.
4. Are you equipped to provide Online Dispute Resolution Services?
You may be a very experienced Alternative Dispute Resolution Practitioner, but the Online Dispute Resolution world has its own idiosyncrasies and it is helpful to get specific, dedicated Online Dispute Resolution Training before providing ODR Services to your clients. There are many free Webinars that can give you an overview of how to conduct an ODR Process and there are some great courses of varying cost you could enroll in to get yourself up to speed.
5. Are you tech savvy and tech wise?
Though you do not have to be an IT Wizard to provide high quality ODR Services, it is helpful to have a cursory understanding of basic tech troubleshooting as you will likely have to navigate issues as they arise during the process. If you can create a cheat-sheet for yourself of common issues that occur and how to solve them, that can be very helpful. You could also provide the cheat-sheet to your clients, as it is probable that in the process at some point or other they will have an issue come up that they have to troubleshoot quickly to continue on with the mediation or other ODR service you are providing. You might also want to check yourself for tech wisdom. Do you make safe, good decisions while using the internet? Or do you make foolish choices? You might want to consider using a fresh computer that is purely dedicated to Online Dispute Resolution so any previous missteps you may have taken do not negatively affect your new ODR practice. It can also be helpful to speak to an IT expert to help get the most current information about Cyber-safety and receive recommendations on equipment, software, platform options and privacy and security precautions. You don't have to break the bank setting up your ODR practice, but it can be very valuable to invest a modest sum in setting yourself up. This could be the difference between being able to continue offering services to your clients or having your practice hijacked and held ransom for bitcoins by a Cyber Terrorist.
We hope this brief checklist provided you some food for thought as you embark on your ODR journey! If you have more questions about setting up an ODR practice or if you are interested in ODR training, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Demi has been practicing ODR for some time, we are both certified ODR practitioners, and Demi is an ODR trainer.
Best of luck to you all in this difficult time and we hope you are all staying safe and well.