The American Arbitration Association: Strategy and Acquisitions

In May, the American Arbitration Association acquired, a SaaS case management services company for dispute resolution. This was the AAA’s first acquisition, but it won’t be it’s last. We asked president and CEO Bridget McCormack to talk us through the acquisition and strategy around it.

Bridget tell us a bit about the American Arbitration Association.

The AAA-ICDR is the largest provider of alternative dispute resolution services in the world—we administered over 500,000 cases around the world last year. We have been the leader in our field for almost 100 years.

You’ve acquired and its parent company Resourceful Internet Solutions (RIS), tell us a bit about their journey from resolving e-commerce disputes to the kinds of issues they solve online now. is a SAAS company that provides case management services for dispute resolution. RIS is the leading online ADR community, and the leading thought leader in the mediation community. Colin Rule, the CEO of ODR/RIS built some of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, and his domain expertise in building efficient, online dispute resolution systems makes him the world’s expert in ODR. Their current users range from courts to government agencies to NGOs to trade organizations.

How will this acquisition benefit the customer/end user and who will the customer be?

The customer is anyone and everyone who has a dispute. We want to democratize ADR, and give everyone with a dispute a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to resolve it. We want to partner with courts to handle their small claims dockets, and give individuals and small businesses with no resources for legal help options for resolving their disputes. Many of our current customers who use traditional arbitration and mediation for some of their disputes have others that need a lighter touch, and quicker resolution that those processes can deliver. We want all users to be able to pick the resolution process that makes sense given the dispute—fit the forum to the fuss.

Is AI a big part of this acquisition and the AAA’s strategy going forward?

Yes, it is. We have been using AI tools and building AI products and workflow efficiencies for over a year. AI can significantly improve the dispute resolution process and make it possible for disputes to be resolved that wouldn’t have been worth the time and cost previously.

What changes or new products can we expect moving forward?

We have products in use—an AI scheduling order, Clausebuilder AI– and are building more—a filing Chatbot, a Panelist search tool and are getting our data ready for some of the bigger projects we will build.

Has the AAA done acquisitions in the past? Can we expect more acquisitions moving forward?

We have not, but yes you can expect it in the future. Our strategy will have us building, licensing and buying.

How do you expect the AAA and dispute resolution in general to look in five years?

I am excited about the future of dispute resolution. Dispute resolution is a pain point for everyone—there are millions of disputes that go unresolved because the process for resolving them in traditional forums is slow and inaccessible to most people not trained as lawyers. But since most people (and businesses) can’t afford lawyers, there is a whole lot of ocean to explore in building better dispute resolution for everyone. Some disputes will likely always be resolved in courts—disputes involving the government, for example. And some disputes will always be best resolved in arbitration or mediation. But many others can be resolved simply and efficiently on your smartphone. The future of dispute resolution will allow everyone to pick the operating system that best fits their dispute.


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