New York Dispute Resolution Lawyer
How might neutrals and advocates foster interpersonal dynamics when conducting arbitrations and mediations virtually, consistent with the ethical obligations of each profession and the ethical underpinnings of each process?
Virtual dispute resolution for commercial dispute resolution has become the new normal. Yet, the dispute resolution listserves are still peppered with posts from mediators and arbitrators who, although publicly extolling their own commitments to their impartiality and neutrality, are also simultaneously voicing their strong preferences for conducting their dispute resolution processes in person. According to these neutrals, they are unable to attain the same results when the process is conducted virtually because of the qualitatively different interaction. “In person, I can connect with the parties, person to person. And, those informal conversations at the water cooler facilitate settlement. I can’t replicate that on Zoom.”
This type of thinking, however, obscures our ability to overcome the challenges of and adapt to the benefits of virtual dispute resolution. What an exciting opportunity to rethink and recreate our practices when conducting dispute resolution virtually. This column re-focuses to this more constructive discussion about how neutrals and advocates can use this new communication channel to conduct dispute resolution processes. I will kick off this evolving inquiry by discussing how neutrals and advocates can foster the human connection virtually and then apply the concepts to two areas: communication and confidentiality.