June 2007 – VirtualCourthouse a Stool with Three Legs
Judge Arthur M. Monty Ahalt (Ret.)
As VirtualCourthouse approaches the 1,000th case filing it has become obvious that On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) requires adoption by three separate constituencies – the claimant, the respondent and the neutral. Much like a stool, if one leg is absent the stool falls. Thus, the challenge of change is multiplied or as the mathematician might say – “cubed”.
Most all practitioners have successfully over come the barriers to change which were presented with the advent of court ordered ADR in the 1990’s. The benefits have become obvious – time saving, cost savings and “resolution satisfaction”. Yet the court dockets keep growing so much more remains to be accomplished.
Students of the dynamics of CHANGE will testify that change does not occur unless there is;
Over the past three years VirtualCourthouse has demonstrated that technology can elevate alternative dispute resolution to higher levels – but it requires the participation of all three legs of the stool. Leadership is key and the leaders in each constituency are stepping forward as the pioneer’s did and they are establishing new territory.
Eric Frye, a lawyer in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, continues to file his cases in VirtualCourthouse before he files in Court. Jeff Wigodsky with Karp Frosh, in Washington DC has successfully adopted the same policy. The claims department of GEICO insurance, Fredericksburg, VA has successfully integrated VirtualCourthouse into their claims examiner training process. The neutrals have had an easier time adopting as Judge Vincent Femia, Alan Feld and Cy Pickens will attest. The common denominator with all of these folks is there ability test the vision of VirtualCourthouse and overcome the reluctance to change.
Most people are risk adverse and they therefore resist change. “I have been doing just fine with out all of this technology” is a familiar refrain. Just ask my dear wife Sandy.
However, the evidence now is overwhelming that VirtualCourthouse will pay significant dividends to those willing to give it a try. The VirtualCourthouse team does a formal evaluation on every case filing and the results are truly exceptional. Over 90% of those responding are “very satisfied” – a 5 on a 5 point scale – with VirtualCourthouse as a method of dispute resolution. 90% are also “very satisfied” with the customer service. Now this does not mean that everyone is thrilled with the result, because as in all of dispute resolution everyone’ expectations are not achieved. And yes there are occasional “technological” clichés and challenges. But that is where VirtualCourthouse excels by it’s experience in overcoming these challenges. Even in the “paper world” not all goes
perfect and there are occasional problems. But as we compare apples with apples VirtualCourthouse provides a very efficient method of resolving a dispute fairly, quickly and inexpensively.