Interview with Aditya Shivkumar, Co Founder of Resolve Disputes Online
Aditya, as an introduction maybe you can tell us something about yourself and your profession. About the things you do on a day-by-day basis in the legal sector and so on.
Before I share some of my thoughts to the readers of the LBW, I would like thank Allard and his team for giving me this opportunity and thank him for the work he’s been doing within the legal field. Hailing
from a family of legal and political acumen, law has been a mainstay. Be it From the first parliamentary debate he attended at the age of 5 at the Australian Parliament to being elected amongst 35,000 strong student union community at his university in England to being UK's youngest Mediator accredited with the Civil Mediation Council by the age of 20. I have been passionate about law, politics and justice right from his formative years, even since my great grandfather became instrumental the drafting of the Constitution of India during the pre Independence era and overseeing
General Elections during his stint as the Chief Election Commissioner of India.
Upon my return to India in 2010, I began my litigation career by appearing in various courts arguing issues ranging from Sport to Civil to Commercial cases. This provided a critical insight which laid the foundation for improving access to justice through technology and the law. Idealistic as it may sound, a crucial takeaway from my litigation stint has been that in India and around the world only 36% of the people are satisfied with the Court Process.
It is the passion for change, desire to contribute to the passion of improving access to justice with innovation that made my Co Founder and myself, form Resolve Disputes Online. Our motto is making justice effortless and accessible. The passion to deliver a world-class platform empowering the stakeholders to offer quality solutions to improve Access to Justice is what enabled us to start RDO in the first place.
“If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working for someone that does.” – Unknown.
As a novice in the field of entrepreneurship and in the early stage of my journey as a Legal Tech entrepreneur, one the lessons that key lessons I learnt early in my career is always be resilient and have the nerves of steel to succeed. Failure is bound to come and I am happy to share with you today that RDO is my second venture in this space. My earlier venture bombed with elan but it brought in resilience and desire to succeed. The result of this resilience and belief is RDO.
Within the legal sector I look to engage with thought leaders and entrepreneurs in the quest to empower digital justice to every citizen around the world.
You are Co Founder of Resolve Disputes Online (RDO). RDO is dispute resolution software and as such improves access to justice. What are its key elements? How does it provide value? And what’s the role of technology in this approach?
Resolve Disputes Online was founded in 2015 enable easier access to justice through innovation of the law with technology. With a rapid rise in demand for ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) the future is ripe with opportunity. One cannot be everywhere when disputes arise. RDO’s pioneering technology enables you to resolve disputes from anywhere in the world, as long as you have got access to an internet connection. As Industry experts, we set out to build an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) solution we’d want to use ourselves. It is a solution built from the groundup to leverage one’s considerable expertise, not dull it. So we came up with RDO, a simple software for experts to resolve disputes.
Our Motto is to empower Digital Justice around the world. In our quest we have designed and developed a dispute resolution software as a service designed to empower ADR experts, courts and tribunals by leveraging the best modern technology to improve access to justice around the world. This platform runs both on centralised and decentralised ecosystems.
RDO's technology has been built by lawyers, mediators and arbitrators from around the world who understand the need for greater access to justice and dispute resolution because they have experienced it themselves. RDO's technology is created by dispute resolution experts from around the world who understand the ADR and litigation processes. RDO can create and host your very own branded platform comprising of effortless case management, dispute resolution tools and insightful data analytics. RDO's belief in effortless dispute resolution is reflected by its 'birds on a wire' logo. Dispute resolution, like birds chirping on a wire, should be easy and accessible.
How does RDO differ from similar initiatives? What’s the added-value RDO presents?
There are other ODR players in the market who are run by technologists and people who believe in Innovation. RDO is nuanced within the same space, we are lawyers, mediators, judges, barristers, solicitors who understand the need of the people and the prowess of technology. We work with the grassroots Alternate Dispute Resolution Community to build our platform, work with end users and understand what do they look whilst resolving an issue, such is the nature of the innovation that it is built with empathy and commitment to enhance the chances of digital justice around the world. We hear the voice of the industry, the people and their aspiration to deliver a world class ODR product.
Therefore, were are a white label, B2B bespoke ODR platform provider to courts, tribunals, ADR Centres, ADR practitioners and any gatekeepers of disputes such as Banks, Insurances, Credit Card companies amongst other target audiences.
We are happy to share with you and your readers that with RDO’s tailored application, anyone can launch their own bespoke ODR application in 96 hours !
What are your plans (if any) for rolling out RDO world-wide? Would that be a serious option for you? Are there any differences compared to the Asian market which might hinder a roll-out to other continents?
It is a very strategic question, the beauty about RDO is that it is sector agnostic and jurisdiction agnostic. We are looking to explore all possible options into rolling RDO out in regions that has a strong and robust demand for an ODR solution. Apart from linguistic and mindset shift that may come with any continent, RDO does not foresee any problem whatsoever in moving into continents around the world. Infact the world is moving towards ODR which is good from an RDO standpoint as it would give us an opportunity to pursue our mission: empowering digital justice around the world. However I wish to dive a bit more deeper into the two issues mentioned as critical challenges:
First, it is difficult to change a person’s mindset to accept a virtual platform rather than physical interaction. People want to see the lawyer in the flesh and communicate with him/her in real life. It takes time to shift such a mindset.
Second, people are afraid of change and are reluctant to devote time and resources to implement new software and upgrade existing technologies. Technology is constantly changing so there is a need to stay updated with the times.
What’s overall your opinion on the current process in the Legal sector when you think about development, planning and implementation of (innovative) tech strategies?
We are witnessing a tectonic shift in the mindset of people within the legal sector. Earlier technological innovation was an option within the industry but over the last 12 months, the legal tech sector has witnessed the growth of 713% highlight the importance technology plays within the legal industry. We are now in an era where technology is an intrinsic part of the legal industry. We at RDO call the next decade as a decade of harmonisation between human interaction with legal technology solutions.
Do you see differences between Asian, American and European firms in their daily operation and how they develop, plan and implement (innovative) tech strategies?
The traditional legal services industry is at the cusp of being eclipsed by technology in the coming decades. Law firms are realising the importance that technology plays, especially with the growing need for automation in commoditized work products. Many top law firms in Asia are examining use of legaltech where the same has been in vogue in law firms in Europe and America. This has got to do with the Oriental mindset of conservatism vis a vis a liberal outlook to technology in the western world. Whilst the paths may be different, I have observed that the destination remains the same: Embrace Legal Tech and offer innovation as a service to your clients.
Do you think that Law Schools understand the need to change the traditional curriculum or at least give more attention to the business of law?
Yes they do and we are seeing various such initiatives around the world. It gives me great pride in sharing with you that RDO is collaborating with an UK university to setup the world’s first pro bono ODR clinic in the first quarter of 2020 and is working closely to setup a similar ODR Clinic with a leading SE Asian University, representing a mindset shift in Law schools around the world. Legal Tech will begin to play a crucial role in the curriculum in the coming decade.
As Law Schools are the breeding ground for lawyers, how far –in your opinion- can we solve the problem of change acceptance by changing the curriculum?
The next decade will see a new breed of lawyers emerge, Legal-Tech Professionals who will not only be able to offer legal advise but also understand the finer nuances of how technology works. Perhaps who knows, lawyers of tomorrow could double as coders too !
There is a lot of discussion ongoing about disruption in the legal market: a big bang against incremental chance. Some say the legal market is on the verge of a disruptive force that will have a huge effect on the market. Then again, others say change will be an incremental process and the market will evolve naturally. What are your thoughts on this?
I am often reminded about the story of the bamboo and the fern. Any industry that grows exponentially without strong foundations is bound to have its bubble burst at any given opportunity. The legal industry has matured over centuries to have robust foundations to integrate technology within its ecosystem. It will be one of natural progression and continuous development. Disruption is becoming a fad, every second idea is a disruptor. No technology will disrupt any industry if it does not have an intrinsic value and any technology will only be an enabler in any industry.
What advice can you offer the young legal professionals or aspiring legal entrepreneurs about starting company and working for a legal startup?
“If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working for someone that does.” – Unknown.
As a novice in the field of entrepreneurship and in the early stage of my journey as a Legal Tech entrepreneur, one the lessons that I wish to share with the future entrepreneurs and innovators is to always be resilient and have the nerves of steel to succeed.
Failure is bound to come and I am happy to share with you today that RDO is my second venture in this space. My earlier venture bombed with elan but it brought in resilience and desire to succeed. The result of this resilience and belief is RDO.
Tough days become worse but at the end of the journey, you are bound to succeed. Believe in yourself, believe in your vision, trust your passion and know your industry. Entrepreneurship is not about the success stories you see on the front pages but it is about how efficiently you manage the back pages to ensure you get to the front with precision.
Please let me know if you wish to make any closing remarks. You can state them here.
Anyone who is passionate about Access to Justice is welcome to join us in our journey to change the way disputes are being resolved around the world.
We are at the cusp of a tectonic shift in the way disputes are being resolved and at RDO we would like the best minds who have a fine understanding of business and legal industry to be part of this exciting and challenging journey.
RDO is here to empower you to launch your own ODR service. We look forward to working with Courts, Governments, Businesses, ADR Centres and ADR Practitioners in the coming years
Aditya Shivkumar Is the Co Founder of Resolve Disputes Online which was founded in 2015 and subsequently incorporated in 2017 to enable easier access to justice through innovation of the law with technology. With a rapid rise in demand for ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) the future is ripe with opportunity. One cannot be everywhere when disputes arise. RDO’s pioneering technology enables you to resolve disputes from anywhere in the world, as long as you have got access to an internet connection. As Industry experts, we set out to build an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) solution we’d want to use ourselves. It is a solution built from the ground-up to leverage one’s considerable expertise, not dull it. So we came up with RDO, a simple software for experts to resolve disputes.
He is a sought after speaker in the field of Legal Technology and was recently invited to address India's first Legal Technology Conference which took place in Delhi on the 15th July 2017. He has been invited to be the Keynote Speaker at the 8th Asia Pacific Mediation Forum in Da Nang between the 11th-13th November 2017, Society for Construction Law Annual Conference in Singapore, 2018. Recently he has been invited to speak at the IPQuorum, Russia on Intellectual Property and Online Dispute Resolution. He has also addressed the World Mediation Summit, an annual affair taking place in Madrid, Spain. Aditya has been a member of the famed international Mediation Institute's ODR Taskforce for the year 2015-2016.
Aditya has been nominated to this year's Fortune India 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 and is emerging as a thought leader in the field of Access to Justice and Legal Technology.