IAALS Report Calls for Expansion of Rechtwijzer to the United States

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) has just released a paper that calls for the implementation of the Rechtwijzer/MyLawBC ODR portal to courts in the United States.  This paper is based on a two-day conference convened by IAALS at the University of Denver in June 2016.  The paper calls for the creation of a “Family Law Portal” (FLP) that will have a large ODR component.  From the report:

“To help plan for the FLP, at the A Court Compass for Litigants convening, attendees were shown two tools designed to help people resolve their family law issues: Rechtwijzer 2.0 used in the Netherlands and MyLawBC used in British Columbia. The latter replicates the functionality of the former and adds an additional Guided Pathways feature. The features common to both include an online dispute resolution (“ODR”) system that helps families that are getting divorced with a minimum of judicial intervention. This process is based upon a concept developed for resolving consumer disputes on eBay—a system that resolves over 60 million disputes a year. The parties start the process online by following guided interviews that help them identify the issues and learn ways to resolve them. If the parties reach an impasse on an issue, they can request the assistance of a professional mediator.23 Again, this is all within the online system. Should they not be able to reach agreement through mediation, 24 they can request a decision on the issue from a non-judicial hearing examiner. At the end of the process, the parties have a settlement agreement that will be filed with the court and signed by a judge.”

The report further recommends that the Rechtwijzer/MyLawBC platform be extended to multiple courts in the US to test its effectiveness in the US market.  From the conclusion:

“Rather than reinventing the wheel, IAALS proposes to replicate the features of Rechtwijzer and MyLawBC on a platform that can be scaled throughout the United States. In addition to the features described, it will incorporate the work that is being done by the Stanford Design School to facilitate natural language search inquiries, so that users do not need to cite legalese. The Stanford project plans to work with Google to identify the terms “real people” use when looking
for answers to their legal problems. This natural language approach will be used throughout the process.”

The full report can be read here.