NORTH MIAMI, Fla., April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Shpoonkle.com, the online legal marketplace whose slogan is "Justice You Can Afford," has added conflict resolution—mediation and arbitration services—to its menu of offerings. Shpoonkle, a reverse auction website where individuals and businesses can find and hire legal professionals at fees below the $300 per hour national average, has in its first few weeks already registered hundreds of participating lawyers and clients.
"Many disagreements are best settled out of court and in those cases alternative dispute resolution—ADR—is the answer," said Robert Grant Niznik, Shpoonkle's CEO. "Mediation and arbitration can save people a lot of time and money and Shpoonkle wants to make ADR more widely available—and affordable—to the general public."
Shpoonkle works by having potential clients post their specific requirements for a lawyer, mediator or arbitrator. As with all reverse auctions, prices are driven down significantly by individuals bidding to win at the lowest price. Throughout the process, users can research participating legal professionals through links provided by Shpoonkle to their law firms, respective state bar associations and ADR standards groups.
Often taking just a day to complete, mediation is a non-binding form of resolution in which a mediator engages both parties in an effort to formulate an acceptable solution. On the other hand, arbitration is binding and involves an independent third party who functions much like a judge, listening to the facts and then rendering a final decision. While few states require certification or even a law degree to work as a mediator or arbitrator, it is a function often performed by lawyers.
The popularity of ADR has grown in recent years because heavy caseloads in civil courts often require long wait times before a dispute can come before a judge and the expense of hiring a litigating attorney is beyond what many people can afford. In a survey published in World Arbitration and Mediation Report 100 percent of respondents found arbitration quicker than litigation and 89 percent said it was less expensive. Over half of those questioned believed arbitration awards were more equitable than courtroom outcomes.
"Shpoonkle is all about offering people more choices in how they can settle legal and monetary disputes," said Niznik. "What drives us is the idea that the legal system should work for everyone—clients and legal professionals—and providing conflict resolution is another way to achieve that."