The Massachusetts Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section hosted their first Dispute Resolution Symposium at UMASS Boston on Friday, May 19, 2017. Titled Conflict Resolution: Advancements, Strategies, and Trends, the symposium featured keynote speaker NYPD detective, hostage negotiator, and crisis communication trainer Jeff Thompson, Ph.D.
Attorney and Divorce Mediator Stephen McDonough of Next Phase Legal LLC in Medfield, MA presented on the topic of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), along with Newton attorney and mediator Ellen Waldorf; and Sheri Wilson, the Director of Operations at Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services. The panel discussed different facets of ODR, including benefits and drawbacks, ethical considerations, and a review of various platforms available to practitioners that can help them interact efficiently with both existing and new clients.
Benefits of Online Dispute Resolution
Panel members noted that online dispute resolution allows participants to enjoy the benefits of working with a skilled mediator who may otherwise be unavailable – perhaps because of distance, time constraints, or when someone has a disability or other challenges that limit mobility. Both McDonough and Waldorf shared their professional experience with ODR in the context of divorce mediation, and discussed instances where clients had moved out of state for employment reasons. Online dispute resolution was a valuable tool and allowed families to move forward in a mediation context to resolve all of the issues pertaining to their Massachusetts divorce, without the added expenses and time associated with travel.
McDonough also covered some of the features that practitioners should consider in whatever technology platform they select, including the ability to share documents onscreen, annotate documents, a whiteboard feature, chat, and the ability to move into a private online space that replicates a private caucus or breakout session.
Other presentations throughout the day included:
- Avoiding Mediation Missteps
- Critical Components to Building a Dispute Resolution Practice
- The Vanishing Joint Session
- Effective Skills of Mediators
- A Friendly Debate on the Pros and Cons of Hybrid Mediation – Arbitration
- The Future of Fitting the Forum to the Fuss
- ESI Discovery in Arbitration
Congratulations to the conference organizers from the MBA Dispute Resolution Section for an excellent day of programming.
To have Norfolk County divorce mediator and attorney Stephen McDonough speak to your group or at your event, please contact Next Phase Legal LLC in Medfield, MA at (508) 359-4043.