ODR.com Presents at 2022 Association for Family and Conciliation Courts Conference
Indraneel Gunjal
May 31, 2022
The ODR.com team presented several sessions at the 2022 Association for Family and Conciliation Courts Conference (titled “The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Technology in Family Law – Practical, Ethical, Safety, and Procedural Challenges”) held in Chicago, Illinois May 11-14, 2022.
Kicking off the conference’s ODR Track (which was jointly designed and sponsored by Mediate.com) Clare Fowler, ODR.com’s Vice President of Customer Success, and Colin Rule, ODR.com’s CEO, presented a pre-conference full day training (alongside our good friend Susan Guthrie) entitled “The Intersection of Family Law and Online Dispute Resolution.” 
This practical and hands-on session, attended by more than 75 participants, was designed to help participants with both the nuts and bolts of mediating family matters online and high-level skills and strategies that take online mediations to the next level with enhanced communication, streamlined practices, and a deeper understanding of the present and future of online dispute resolution. The program was designed for experienced online mediators as well as those just getting started. It aimed to help participants learn how to help families restructure in a virtual format with the aid of technology, making the process more effective for all.
In addition to the pre-conference session, Colin and Susan (along with friend of ODR.com Prof. Amy Schmitz, who did her own keynote address at the conference) delivered a shorter session (also part of the ODR Track) entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know about ODR but Were Afraid to Ask.” This session acknowledged that ODR is here to stay, and that courts around the world are leveraging it to expand access to justice for parties involved in family disputes. We shared the latest developments in ODR, including best practices, ethical standards, technology platforms, and practical implementation advice for courts.
Finally, Colin moderated a keynote on Friday entitled “Mind the Gap: Technology, Access, Connection, Equity, and Justice” that examined how the explosion of online mediation, remote hearings, evaluations, and telehealth, due to Covid-19 risk, has given rise to questions about the impact of technology on the family justice system are on the rise. Question addressed include:

Is technology the great equalizer or does it widen the gap between the haves and have-nots?
Do gains in efficiency result in a more effective family justice system, or are there tradeoffs of which we should be wary?
How does technology impact factors such as rapport and trust, especially when children are involved?

This panel covered how technology impacts users and practitioners as we strive to evolve toward a more accessible, effective, and humane family justice system.  Panelists included Chioma Ajoku (JD, PhD, ABPP, from Brooklyn, NY), the Hon. William S. Boyd (Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, IL), Stacey E. Platt (JD, Loyola Law School Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, Chicago, IL), and Susan M. Yates (Resolution Systems Institute, Chicago, IL).