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How I’m making dispute resolution even easier
I've always had a passion for access to justice –– a fundamental tenet of the work I do is that everyone should be able to get the legal help they need, no matter who they are, or what's going on for them. Above all, it matters to me that my practice is "human-friendly," by which I mean, it needs to work with your life, not the other way around.
And boy oh boy has life changed abruptly these last few days. The COVID-19 pandemic has reached our Clark County, Washington court system, and jury trials and pre-trial settlement conferences have been cancelled through at least the end of April, with social distancing protocols in place and regular civil and family law dockets liberally allowing telephonic hearings. It's going to be a rocky ride over at the courthouse, folks, but we will get through this!
Introducing my new service of Online Dispute Resolution, where people can get the dispute resolution help they need, when they need it.
Going forward, I am offering mediation, arbitration, and pre-trial settlement conference services online, via Zoom calls. (In case you've never been on one before, a Zoom call is a virtual video-conference call. Think: a bunch of people getting in a room together with the option of going into private breakout rooms, except the rooms are online and you can access them from anywhere you have an internet connection.)
I'm thrilled to be able to offer this to my clients for a few reasons:
Court docket calls can contain anywhere from three to 30+ matters all scheduled at once. It's "hurry up and wait" time over there at the courthouse. Online dispute resolution services personally and efficiently handle your dispute any business day of the week or time of day that works for you, not just when the court has allotted time for your particular type of matter. I can usually schedule sessions within three days for emergent issues, and can schedule out a week or more for pre-trial settlement conferences, arbitrations, or mediations requiring a little more preparation time.
Ease of access
The ability to meet online can make things so much easier if you're a busy professional, located further away than you'd like to be from my offices, or need to be housebound for whatever reason. It also gives you some options if you're going through a divorce with someone out of state, or you'd benefit from some extra flexibility in your meeting times and places. (For instance, if you need to be at home with your children, or if you're a caretaker for a parent.)
Online meeting rooms are just as private as a locked conference room, and can be a good option if you'd rather not come in to a physical office. By meeting online, you can go through pretty much the entire process without having to leave your home, if that's what you prefer. And video conferencing offers the opportunity to go into private breakout rooms when one-on-one time is needed in order to help move things forward.
Sense of safety
If you're in a high-conflict dispute, experience domestic violence, or are in a situation where there's a power imbalance, just getting in the room with the other person in the dispute can feel like the last thing in the world you want to do. While there's no way to do mediation without sitting down and communicating with the other person, with virtual mediation, you can do that from a distance, on your "home territory", so to speak, which can help ease anxieties and make you feel even safer throughout the process. And when court motions are pending, it can be easier to manage the stresses of the situation by putting some distance between you and the person you are having a dispute with.
Technology makes it easy
If you're a little leery about switching from in-person to long-distance, you can relax –– technology really does make it easy. You can use virtually any phone or computer (as long as it has a camera), and you don't need to buy anything or download anything. Plus, the technology allows me to use a virtual whiteboard to take group notes, and easily share documentation with everyone as needed, so you don't have to worry about missing anything. I have this video conferencing thing down, and we will take the time to ensure everyone is up to speed with the technology before we begin a session.
As always, making dispute resolution as easy and accessible as possible for you is my top priority.
If you're located in the states of Washington or Oregon and need some legal support as you go through a separation, divorce, business dispute, community issue, or adult family dispute, I'd love to help. Click here to find out how I can support you.