September 2005 – Changing the Way We Do the Business of Dispute Resolution
Judge Arthur Monty Ahalt ( Ret )
With the growing challenges in the practice of law today, throwing change into the environment is often not a welcome proposal. Generally speaking, a busy lawyer’s office is usually busting at the seams and it often feels like as soon as one crisis is resolved another is looming ahead. Staff is particularly stressed as not only do their responsibilities grow, but they’re asked to complete tasks at a more rapid pace. A quick assessment of where the stress is derived is commonplace; the daily operations of the office is bogged down with volumes of paper, paper containing important case data. This dilemma is compounded as a dispute grows older and going to court becomes more likely.
What’s the remedy, one would ask? The remedy is to get the cases resolved faster so that the paper shuffling on each file stops sooner. How can this be done with out sacrificing the legitimate needs of the client? Certainly a policy of settling a case early just to settle it does not work and does not help the client. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods of arbitration, mediation and neutral case evaluation provide promise but are time consuming; implementation takes more time to achieve the opposing parties’ agreement, there is often a high cost associated with implementation, there is a lack of a well defined list of qualified neutrals and more paper is required.
VirtualCourthouse.com provides an alternative that is proving very successful. By using VirtualCourthouse.com, the parties use the power of the Internet to remove the barriers to ADR. The Internet has revolutionized many areas of our lives and ADR is just one more. By using VirtualCourthouse the parties;
1.Find a neutral
2.Agree to a neutral
3.Present their case on the Internet
4.Receive the neutrals decision on the Internet
All of these steps take minutes as opposed to years in court. The decisions, while being fast, are fair and equitable.
Busy trial lawyers and insurance companies are changing the way they do the business of dispute resolution by adding VirtualCourthouse.com as a mandatory step before filing suit. And why not? It takes minutes to initiate a case, it costs nothing unless you are successful and the VirtualCourthouse team makes the case for ADR with the opposition. The fees if you’re successful?
A $50 filing fee plus $125 fee for the neutral- a total of $175. Almost 200 cases have been resolved so far and with pilots with GEICO, MAIF, and State Farm the numbers are growing daily. Case filing volume has doubled in the last 6 months.