Quick to Judge
Tom Weber and Mark Norych say their new company is going to create a “seismic shift” in the U.S. legal landscape – that it’ll make court battles cheaper, faster, and more convenient.
Weber is the 54-year-old president and CEO of Arbitration Resolution Services, a company that wants to use legal experts to settle cases across the nation – online in days, instead of face-to-face in months. And for less than $100 in many cases, instead of thousands.
But Weber doesn’t take credit for the concept.
“Mark has been the visionary,” says Weber, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens and has helped translate the idea into a business model. “He has 30 years of experience in litigation across the country, and he came up with the concept of putting everything on a cloud-based platform that resolves disputes in an economical, time-conscious, and fair way.”
Norych, who’s 56 and lives in Coral Springs, says besides the insurance industry (which he spent decades representing) and the American Arbitration Association, few people use arbitration to settle legal battles.
“Arbitration goes back beyond organized religion courts to Biblical times – King Solomon was an arbitrator,” Norych says. “I thought there has to be a way – a dramatically better, cheaper alternative. But nobody has come up with a formula, and that was the goal.”
Both men say they’re not out to eat lawyers’ lunches.
“This is not a system to replace attorneys,” Weber says. “We’re covering the area they don’t address.”
ARS handles cases under $100,000, and fees for disputes between individuals start at $95 for vehicle-related damage and $125 for property damage. There are also business-individual and business-business categories with comparable prices. Appeals are pricier, starting at $750.
“You don’t have to be an attorney or paralegal — they’re not needed,” Norych says. And unlike pro se litigation, where people who sue represent themselves and have to figure out all the complex regulations, ARS walks you through everything in plain English.
“We’re not targeting anybody with a high degree of sophistication – high school level at best. It says: ‘What happened?’ You describe it. ‘What do you have to support it?’ You scan and upload photos or documents. If you forget, there’s a warning,” Norych says. You can use a smartphone, too.
“It prompts you throughout. There’s a personal homepage for users with the status of the matter, and with any deadlines the program automatically generates prompting emails. Unless you’re dead, you can’t miss a deadline,” Norych adds.
From there, an arbitrator picks up everything both sides have submitted. If necessary, he or she can schedule a phone or video conference for the parties.
ARS has more than two dozen arbitrators with a minimum of five years of experience, but on average 24 years’ worth, and they can handle thousands of cases a month, Norych says – because they can work on them anytime, anywhere.
The system is up and running, and ARS is in talks with various large corporations and banks about using it. Says Weber, “It’s not restricted to Florida, it’s national. And eventually, it’ll be around the world.”
Advice on Arbitrating
With over three decades of experience with arbitration, Mark Norych had some advice on how to avoid getting stuck with lawsuits as the only option, and why he thinks arbitration – especially online – is better.
Get a prenup. “Rule No. 1, when you sign a shareholder agreement or any business-to-business agreement, look for or request an arbitration provision so you’re not faced with litigation as a certainty.”
Use the looser rules. “One of the most beautiful things is, you’re not bound by the court’s rules of evidence. In a litigated matter, you have to lay a foundation and prove an authentic chain and that precludes you from using the best evidence.”
Go virtual if you can. “Any interaction is by telephone or video conference, so the anxiety is removed from the process and there’s much less confrontation. You don’t have to stare at the person you want to pay you.”
Have good timing. “You don’t have to disrupt your normal daily life in small business or as a consumer with a legal problem. You don’t have to miss a day’s work.”
Arbitration Resolution Services
210 N. University Drive, Suite 802
Coral Springs, 33071