Professor Amy J. Schmitz has published a new article, “Measuring ‘Access to Justice’ in the Rush to Digitize,” in the Fordham Law Review, which can be accessed on SSRN at http://ssrn.com/abstract=3604717. Access to Justice (“A2J”) is the hot topic of the day, energizing Twitter and judges alike. Meanwhile, professors and policymakers join in song, singing the praises of online dispute resolution (ODR) as means for expanding A2J. This is because ODR uses technology to allow for online claim diagnosis, negotiation, and mediation without the time, money, and stress of traditional court processes. Indeed, courts are now moving traffic ticket, condominium, landlord/tenant, personal injury, debt collection, and even divorce claims online. The hope is that online triage and dispute resolution systems will provide means for obtaining remedies for self-represented litigants (SRLs) and those who cannot otherwise afford traditional litigation. Nonetheless, there is danger that the rush to digitization will ignore due process and transparency in the name of efficiency. Accordingly, research is underway to “test” ODR programs to determine whether they are in fact advancing A2J. This raises the question of what justice is and leads to further questions regarding how we should assess these ODR programs. This article addresses these inquiries and aims to delineate variables and questions that should be considered as we examine ODR’s successes and failures in advancing justice.
Resolution Systems Institute in Chicago highlighted Professor Schmitz’s work in the May issue of its newsletter dedicated to Court ADR News, “What Do We Need To Do To Find Out if ODR Provides A2J?” This article provides a framework of how to evaluate the extent to which online dispute resolution systems affect critical problems of (lack of) access to justice.