Richard Susskind, digital technology expert and legal visionary, once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
That’s exactly what Charles Brofman did. He invented the future.
Brofman, a former trial lawyer, is the co-founder of Cybersettle, the world’s leading online claim settlement company. Cybersettle makes use of what is known as online dispute resolution (ODR), a kind of dispute resolution process that utilizes digital technology to settle claims quickly and economically.
In 1996, Brofman had the foresight and rare common sense to create Cybersettle. What sparked this vision? A situation familiar to any trial attorney or mediator who has wrestled with a case that just won’t settle:
Cybersettle grew out of a 1995 encounter between seasoned trial attorneys Charles Brofman and James Burchetta who were representing opposing sides in attempting to settle an insurance claim. Jim, who in this case was representing the plaintiff, had demanded tens of thousands of dollars more than the amount Charlie, the defense counsel, was willing to offer. Both parties were well aware of what amount would eventually settle this case, but neither wanted to compromise his bargaining position – so on to court they went.
In the courthouse, they agreed to secretly write down their bottom line numbers and hand them to a court clerk, who was instructed to give them a “thumbs-up” if they were within a few thousand dollars of each other. If the case didn’t settle, the clerk would destroy the papers and never reveal the figures. He flashed a “thumbs-up.” The amounts were within $1,000 of each other. They split the difference and settled the case within minutes.
Cybersettle was thus born of the desire to help lawyers and others accomplish what sometimes can feel like the impossible: get cases to settle fast and fairly.
So, how does Cybersettle work?
Cybersettle utilizes a patented automated, online, double-blind bid dispute resolution system which allows disputants to resolve claims quickly and confidentially. Optional telephone facilitation is also available when necessary to smooth out communication difficulties and keep settlement negotiations on track, or when parties are close and can benefit from the help of a skilled neutral.
The online service generates high-speed settlements by matching offers and demands. Once the process gets underway, disputants have three opportunities or rounds to settle a claim. One demand or offer is entered for each round; Cybersettle instantly compares the demands to the opposition’s corresponding offer. When the offer is greater than or equal to the opposition’s demand, the claim instantly settles.
Who uses Cybersettle? And why?
Cybersettle has many satisfied customers, as its case studies testify, and has assisted in almost 200,000 transactions, representing $1,457,299,751 in settlements to date, an impressive figure.
Among those who use Cybersettle are attorneys and other legal professionals; insurance carriers and claims professionals; third-party administrators and self-insureds; and government, including municipalities.
But why would they use Cybersettle?
New York City has 11.6 million reasons why. That’s the number of dollars the City saved during its first year using Cybersettle. Faced with a backlog of 40,000 cases, the City needed to take drastic steps. The first city to integrate Cybersettle into its settlement process, New York was able to settle 66% of its cases within 30 days, reduce its backlog significantly, and realize significant cost savings.
For its clients, Cybersettle is virtually a no-risk proposition. The double-blind bidding means that parties can submit their walk-away numbers without compromising their position. This means that there are none of the worries associated with making first offers or other pitfalls of face-to-face negotiation. Most importantly, parties don’t pay unless they settle. I’ll say that again. Parties don’t pay unless they settle. What’s not to love about a system like that?
Speed and 24/7 access — much like an ATM or your favorite convenience store — are other qualities that make Cybersettle so appealing. Trained phone facilitators are also available during normal business hours if parties need the extra nudge to cross the finish line.
Curious to find out how it works? You can take Cybersettle for a test drive.
Incidentally, Brofman’s talent for predicting the future is not limited to digital technology. Not only did he see the future in ODR, but on a phone call with him back in January, he correctly predicted that the New England Patriots would play the New York Giants in the Super Bowl and that the Giants would win. This is one guy who’s skilled at looking ahead.
Interested in finding out more about Cybersettle? Visit Cybersettle’s web site. And if you’d like to learn more about the brave new world of technology-mediated dispute resolution, read “Settling It On the Web“, an article from the ABA Journal which provides an excellent introduction to ODR.