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American Arbitration Association Acquires ODR.com and Mediate.com to Expand Online Dispute Resolution

American Arbitration Association Acquires ODR.com and Mediate.com to Expand Online Dispute Resolution

In a move designed to expand its products for online dispute resolution, the American Arbitration Association has acquired ODR.com, a company that builds ODR systems, and its parent company, Resourceful Internet Solutions Inc. (RIS), which also owns Mediate.comArbitrate.com and Ombuds.org.

The companies said that the immediate focus of the alliance will be on expanding AAA’s mediation services by developing a suite of ODR products.

“Demand for ODR is growing rapidly worldwide, and working with the AAA will keep us on the cutting edge,” said RIS CEO Colin Rule. “Our shared goal is to make ADR an accessible choice for everyone, and this alliance will enable us to achieve that goal at an unprecedented level.”

The acquisition comes 18 months after the AAA, the largest private provider of alternative dispute resolution services in the world, named Bridget Mary McCormack, the former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, as its president and chief executive officer.

As I noted in January when McCormack was a guest on my LawNext podcast, she is credited with having “supercharged” the AAA’s innovation efforts – particularly with regard to its adoption of generative AI.

Similarly Rule, the RIS CEO, has long been recognized as a trailblazer and innovator in the field of ODR. In the early days of the internet, he founded Online Resolution, one of the first ODR sites, and then, from 2003 to 2011, he was director of ODR for eBay and PayPal.

In 2011, he co-founded Modria.com, an ODR technology developer whose platform was used by a number of e-commerce sites and innovative sites designed to provide alternatives to litigation. Modria was acquired in 2017 by Tyler Technologies, a company that develops software products for courts and governments. Rule remained with Tyler as vice president of ODR until 2020, when he cofounded and became president and CEO of ODR.com and RIS.

McCormack said that ODR.com is the leading technology company in mediation and arbitration and has the software and experience to build ODR systems at any scale.

“The RIS team is led by pioneers in technology and dispute resolution,” she said. “They have designed and launched the largest and most successful ODR systems globally, including those at eBay and PayPal, which have resolved hundreds of millions of disputes.”

ODR.com will remain a separate for-profit subsidiary of the AAA dedicated to providing technology and artificial intelligence to the ADR community. Rule will remain president and CEO, reporting to McCormack.

“Together, we’re creating something greater than the sum of our parts,” McCormack said. “This alliance empowers us to dramatically expand our products and services to reach new and underserved markets globally.”

‘ODR Is A Big Term’

In an interview with yesterday ahead of today’s announcement, McCormack and Rule shared more information about the acquisition and its implications for dispute resolution.

“Over the last nine, ten, twelve months, the AAA has been pretty aggressive about working to update, upgrade, and grow our core products and services, our core business, but also at the same time wanting to figure out how we can reach new users in new markets,” McCormack said. “I think what Colin and his team are doing at ODR.com is going to allow us to do that a lot faster and with a lot more agility than it’s easy to do on our own.”

The scope of that expansion is likely to encompass ODR in all its forms, from arbitration and mediation, to ombuds services, and beyond, McCormack and Rule said.

Read the complete article here.

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