A global pandemic has created upward pressure on the number of unresolved disputes. Downward economic pressure resulting from the full spectrum of the inability to deliver to the inability to pay has created more disputes. Reduction in funding and the inability to hold in-person court sessions has reduced the number of disputes courts have been able to resolve. Attorneys – by and large – feel like the legal services industry is shrinking. It’s not, but it is shifting.
The Decentralized Arbitration and Mediation Network (“Network”) is a proposed global, borderless communication and transaction platform to resolve disputes globally. The Network would facilitate parties dispute resolution on its online platform. Not only is the Network scalable (it is more responsive to changes in the economy, environment, and such) it offers options that are not offered by courts such as
-> who will decide (with options of one person or algorithm, pools of random jurors, pools of experts, a collaboration of the parties, mediation, etc.);
-> how long the decision-making process will take;
-> party anonymity;
-> and whether the dispute and the resolution will be made public or remain private.
Most disputes have always been and still are resolved through private negotiation. One person claims they are owed something from another. A response is made, then a counter-response and this cycle continues until the dispute is resolved. Private judges have resolved disputes in the United States since at least 1866.1 Arbitration as a method of dispute resolution was formalized in the United States by the United States Arbitration Act (commonly referred to as the Federal Arbitration Act) in 1925. Mediation was practiced in Ancient Greece and it could be argued that every war between humans was followed by mediation of some sort.
Parties, including the government,2 may enter into a binding arbitration agreement to resolve a dispute in an alternative, private forum.
Beyond the United States, organizations like the New York Convention facilitate dispute resolution globally.
The Network will allow parties to resolve disputes whether they are local or global and unlike the jurisdiction of the local court, the resolution is enforceable globally. And perhaps more significantly, the Network does not require that parties, even legally created parties like corporations, be represented by attorneys.
Certainly, parties in dispute may rely on attorneys but the attorney role will be more of a consulting role rather than that of an expensive litigation role. Further, parties in dispute may be motivated to look for attorneys who have developed skills in areas that are not traditionally considered part of an attorneys stock and trade – such as crafting claims and defenses for resolution by algorithms rather than people.
Attorneys do not recognize this shift or deny it may be experiencing shrinking revenues. Attorneys, however, who shift and develop new skills to serve their clients may experience a revenue boom.