The Future of ADR? New Era Bags $6.3m While Still at Seed Stage

New Era ADR has bagged $4.6m in Seed funding as it tries to shake up the world of dispute resolution. This takes the startup to $6.3m in total investment in just a year – which is quite a feat in the legal tech sector for what is still a very early stage company.

All well and good, but how does it work and why will this one succeed? After all, there are plenty of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR) projects out there.

The company explained it this way: ‘New Era ADR is the first all-digital, all-virtual platform that reduces the outrageous time and cost of resolving legal disputes by up to 90%.’

They go on to say that you get clients and their lawyers to insert a contract clause saying that any ADR will be handled via New Era, and that it then ‘connects parties, lawyers, and Neutrals with a fully digital solution’.

Once on the platform you can ‘upload documents, schedule meetings, and bypass the procedures that draw out disputes unnecessarily, and get to a resolution faster’.

But, is this some kind of super-complex AI thing that solves the dispute for you? Nope. It’s more about smoothing the process out and making it as easy as possible for the dispute to be resolved by a good old-fashioned human lawyer. It’s a long way from trying to replace the human element. It’s just more efficient.

Or, as they noted, you ‘put your case before a highly experienced, certified Neutral, and get fair resolutions that objectively address the facts and their application to the law’.

OK, but who are these Neutrals? They are members of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (NADN). New Era also handpicks additional Neutrals for their experience and knowledge.

‘These carefully vetted arbitrators and mediators, many of them former judges or highly experienced attorneys, represent the best and brightest in the field. NADN-vetted neutrals have also successfully met a number of rigorous minimum requirements to gain NADN membership status,’ they added.

So, one could ask why is money pouring into this startup? After all, there is no magical solution here. It’s instead about delivering the human intervention far more smoothly and its promise to cut dispute costs and time wastage. And that has got investors excited.

Or, as Collin Williams, Founder and Chairman of New Era, put it: ‘I had a client go through a business breakup that took 6 years, 80-plus hearings, and $1.2m in legal fees, only to settle without either side ever getting to tell their side of the story to a judge. All too often, people and organisations are forced to pay millions of dollars or give up their right to be heard purely to avoid the process of litigation.’

In short, there really needs to be some kind of change here.

While New Era CEO and Co-Founder, Rich Lee, added: ‘Arduous legal processes plague every industry in our economy and hinder growth and innovation, yet organisations and individuals alike share the same goals of settling disputes without a drawn out fight. We knew there was a better way.’

Their approach seems to be working. In less than a year the company is already the named dispute resolution platform in a huge number of contracts, many penned by AmLaw 100 law firms. And, after just two months in 2022, the company already surpassed its 2021 revenues.

The funding was led by New York and Boston-based Nextview Ventures with participation from Jump Capital. The company’s original pre-seed investors, Motivate Ventures and Alumni Ventures, also participated in this round along with notable entrepreneurs and investors David Kalt, Sean Chou, Pete Kadens, and Lon Chow.

Good luck to them. The multi-billion dollar litigation and dispute resolution industry in the US – and also around the world – and all the many companies out there – need some help for sure.