Online Dispute Resolution, Cybersecurity, and A Vault at ILTACON – An Interview with Mike Schuman, CSTO of Immediation

Mike Schuman

Immediation, founded in 2017, offers a holistic end-to-end dispute resolution platform for case intake, management, collaboration, secure digital hearings and insights. Today, the enterprise claims to provide the world’s most secure and specialized digital legal environment for dispute resolution, justice, and legal practice. We sat for a chat with Mike Schuman, CSTO of Immediation – the one who keeps an eye on cybersecurity, privacy, and risk – about Immediation’s purpose, cybersecurity, ‘the vault’ at ILTACON 2022, and the potential of online dispute resolution. Read on to find out what Mike Schuman told us.

LTB: Mr. Schuman, what is the purpose of Immediation’s tools and solutions?

M. Schuman: Ultimately, Immediation’s purpose can be summed up in three words: Speed to Resolution. As the ‘gold standard’ online dispute resolution platform, Immediation provides greater access to justice, alternative dispute resolution opportunities outside of court (backlog reduction) and faster, more efficient and cost-saving results for all parties. Our solution is purpose-built for legal and is configured for all types of disputes or legal environments.

LTB: For whom are Immediation’s solutions made?

M. Schuman: As a holistic, end-to-end, fully customizable online solution, Immediation equally serves 5 ‘verticals’:

  • Courts: “The backlog will not be solved by trying more cases. It will be minimized by removing cases that are better served through alternative mechanisms like mediation or arbitration,” said Louisiana Judge Scott Schlegel. Immediation provides an ideal alternative dispute resolution service for courts as well as a purpose-built virtual or hybrid hearing platform. Unlike other systems that are retrofitted for legal use, Immediation was built from the ground up for this specific use case.
  • Arbitration Institutions: Already Immediation partners with Singapore’s Maxwell Chambers and New York’s Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR). Other dispute resolution providers are in development. Our platform extends their brand online serving case managers, the institution, panel members and all parties.
  • Mediators‘It does what it says on the tin!’ Immediate plus mediation equals Immediation.
  • Law Firms: Litigation by definition is dispute resolution. Most law firms have a practice around litigation. Immediation is customized to support, streamline, systematize, and speed the process from end to end.
  • Corporations: Immediation provides an Independent Resolution Servicefor complaints management. Sport NZ – the New Zealand body governing all sports – uses Immediation to handle the myriad complaints it receives: for intake, triage, early facilitation and up through mediation and investigation. This reduces cost and time burdens on the corporate legal department and offers both sides an independent opportunity to be heard.

LTB: What impact do you think Immediation has already had on law and the legal industry?

M. Schuman: More than 5 years in, Immediation has answered the question “how can we do Online Dispute Resolution better?” – more than 7,000 matters have been tried on our platform, featuring more than 30,000 parties, participants or witnesses who never left their homes. Whether family court or complex geographic disputes, Immediation has shown they can all be addressed and solved with the right bespoke legal solution that respects and protects privilege and covers all the foundational legal requirements.

LTB: What advantages do lawyers have working with your solutions?

M. Schuman: We integrate with existing systems, connect them in a singular interface and provide access to data heretofore unrecoverable. Moreover, we ‘white-label’ – extending the law firm’s digital footprint and allowing for greater case intake and through-put.

Immediation’s ‘vault’ at ILTACON

LTB: Immediation was one of the exhibitors at ILTACON 2022 – with a special exhibition booth. What possibilities could one unlock at your vault-like booth?

M. SchumanILTACON 2022 was Immediation’s first-ever ILTACON. We debuted our Litigation Support Suite – and the vault? Well, what is a CIO’s #1 concern? Isn’t it security? And what represents that more than a vault? Immediation’s goal was to actualize how we solve for the CIO’s biggest concern while delivering a superior, easy-to-use product. It caught attention and delivered exactly what we intended.

LTB: Immediation claims to be the world’s most secure and specialized digital legal environment for dispute resolution, justice, and legal practice. What makes it a world leader in these fields?

M. Schuman: Founder Laura Keily is a lawyer and barrister (trial attorney). She is not a technologist. Her concept was to replicate the dispute resolution process – soup-to-nuts – in a digital way. To this end, Immediation was founded on the rule of law; an experiential understanding of its needs and nuances. Then she brought in the technology to deliver against those needs.

Security was always a major focus: From privilege – without it, there can be no real legal outcomes! – to storage and even the dreaded silent subpoena, Laura baked these into Immediation. As CSTO, my duty is to ensure that we are “Security First” in all we do. We continuously mature our processes and are never satisfied with the status quo. We insist on independent testing and certification, where others may choose to perform their own internal testing or not pursue anindustry certification. The result shows on clients’ and prospects’ faces: the way they relax when they hear these answers. “This is so well thought-through,” is the common refrain.

LTB: How exactly do you deal with cyber-security risks? What measures does Immediation take to ensure maximum security and privacy for its clients?

M. Schuman: Military grade encryption. Siloed servers. Data sovereignty. Unique, one-time use access links – you cannot ‘forward’ an Immediation invitation. Fail over systems. Continuous testing, vulnerability management and change management are only some of the controls we have implemented to feed into our enterprise risk reporting. All risks are evaluated and updated on a quarterly basis and presented to our Audit and Risk Committee. We offer clients the controls that they would expect from an enterprise grade system, e.g., role-based access control, multifactor authentication, password complexity, breached password identification. The platform is configured with multiple layers of protection as any discerning CIO would expect when conducting vendor selection. For me personally, there is no greater satisfaction than being part of an organization which recognizes security as our primary obligation.

LTB: Immediation aims to “make the tech disappear” for its clients. How do you achieve this?

M. Schuman: The system was designed by people who do not like technology – e.g., it was made to “feel like home” for lawyers, judges, neutrals: to accurately replicate the work process they go through every day. This fosters adoption and use because they do not need to “learn anything new”.

LTB: How does the future of online dispute resolution look like from your perspective? Do you identify any development constraints for online dispute resolution to be established globally and in a common manner?

M. SchumanThe future is now: It is said that the pandemic forced legal to adopt “5 years of technology in 5 weeks”. The interesting result is that most firms, courts, and institutions experienced the benefits that the right technology tools can deliver. It must be said, everyone picked up the tools they had available for business continuity. Many of those tools were never intended for legal use. To this end, we believe the question “can we do dispute resolution online?” is answered. The question now is: “How do we do it better?” And that’s where bespoke, purpose-built legal tech providers like Immediation have the right tools to offer.

LTB: What plans and visions does Immediation have?

M. Schuman: Market expansion – U.S., EU, and Asia. We will introduce segregated hubs in Australia, the U.S., and the EU with guaranteed data residency to meet the specific requirements of our clients.

LTB: Do you think that legal tech is just a “hype” or will it change the legal services market and law in general persistently?

M. Schuman: Done right, legal tech is already improving the delivery and democratization of legal services. Consider that e-Courts, the December conference for judges and court administrators, is themed: “Then & Now” – from paper to digital; from courtroom to hybrid; from file boxes to e-discovery. If courts – slowest to adopt new technology – are already moving ahead, how far behind can the legal industry lag before change is forced?

LTB: What potential do you see for legal tech in general?

M. Schuman: Expectations of the incoming generation are very different than their predecessors. Millennials are digital natives. They expect that “there’s an app for that”. Current legal leaders are ‘aging out.’ To this end, we believe Legal Tech is just getting started. The momentum is building and there will be no turning the tide as new practitioners enter the industry with higher expectations around ease of use and the death of paper-driven and manual processes.

We thank Mike Schuman for his time and effort to answer our questions and whish the team behind Immediation all the best for their project to change the legal services market for the better.