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Bob and Bob

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Part I of this Article analyzes the need for online mediation, the capability of online mediation to meet these needs, some common misconceptions accepted in the *29 legal-mediation community, the technological infrastructure on which online mediation takes place, and identifies some of the associated real world legal issues raised by technology. Part II discusses differences between physical presence face-to-face mediation and online virtual mediation, examines a sample of the many scientific studies of computer- mediated communication, and postulates how these studies should inform views on whether and when online mediation is feasible. Part III describes some existing online mediation programs as models of what might be and describes various software programs to facilitate the mediation process. Since no article on mediation would be complete without a simulation, part IV applies this Article's lessons to a paradigmatic hypothetical.

Finally, the Article concludes by taking the position that although online mediation is still in its infant stages, it has the potential to provide new and creative methods to facilitate the resolution of the entire gamut of disputes from the easily resolved to those that are intractable. If online mediation is to be efficacious at resolving disputes, future efforts at online mediation must be informed by both the experiences of the mediator and the existing research in computer-mediated communications.

I. PRIMER ON ONLINE MEDIATION

At a minimum, online mediation is feasible only if the technology permits it, the law allows for it, there is a need for it, and it can satisfy this need. This section will discuss the social, technological, and legal predicates necessary for online mediation.

A.…...

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