Issues to Consider for Remote ADR

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Here are some questions to consider when evaluating whether to utilize a remote platform for your ADR practice. Consider the principles that guide your face-to-face practice and determine whether you can provide a quality process for each situation.

Am I capable of conducting a quality process?

  • Will the virtual platform selected create an unreasonable advantage or disadvantage for either party?
  • How to maintain impartiality and help the participants to participate fully?
    • Who will provide tech support for participants if needed?
  • How will signatures be handled:
    • Agreement to participate forms?
    • Final agreements?
  • What approach will you use to foster confidentiality?
    • Permission or prohibition around recording the session(s)?
    • Only appropriate people in rooms during process?
  • How to modify any pre-process engagement and opening statements?
  • Am I comfortable using the technology?
    • Are their opportunities to do a mock online mediation?
    • Can I do a dry run of the new online process?

Do participants have the resources?

  • Hardware – laptop, tablet, smartphone?
  • Internet or wireless data plan with large enough data package that handles the demand if using video?
  • Use of video, telephone calls, chats, emails, or combination?
  • Quiet space where they can focus and maintain a confidential process?
  • Do I need to do a technology assessment with parties ahead of time?
  • How should I modify the intake process to account for these issues and the above questions?

What virtual platform should be used?

  • What features are important for the way I practice?
    • Is downloading software required, if so, is it easy to do and install?
    • Is the interface intuitive for people to use?
      • For mediator(s)?
      • For participants who likely have never used technology in this context?
    • Allow electronic signatures?
      • If case is a referral, does the referring organization have rules around electronic signatures?
    • Allow sharing of documents confidentially?
      • Can people highlight or point to specifics in documents being shared onscreen?
      • Shared whiteboard for mediator to use or space to jointly draft documents?
    • Allow video that is confidential?
      • Quality of video?
    • Allow private sessions for party and attorney to communicate and/or caucusing – how seamless/easy is this for the mediator and parties?
    • Have a “waiting room” which allows people to log into the platform, but they can’t join the session until the host brings them into the session.
    • Allow emailing from within the system to track all communications with parties?
    • Backup system such as a second computer serving as co-host or chat feature if the primary computer goes down or if the video system fails?
    • Allow parties to negotiate together at the same time or allow parties to log on when convenient and have an asynchronous process?
    • Privacy
      • Allow for unique login password for each user?
      • Protect confidential information of parties?
        • Are emails, phone numbers, or other contact information public or private
      • Do software providers have a clear privacy policy since video and documents are likely on their servers?
      • What level of encryption do you and your parties need?
    • Cost of system?
    • Works across systems?
      • PC, Mac?
      • Smartphones?
        • Apple, Android, others
    • Can people call in from a landline if they can’t do video?
    • System allows online payments by parties for services?