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Document Type

Symposium

Abstract

I really do believe that, as your title suggests, the civil justice system is at a crossroads and that, as a result, we all have new opportunities and old responsibilities. Four years ago, concerns about skyrocketing costs, unprofessional gamesmanship, and long delays in civil litigation were the stuff of grousing and shoulder shrugs. We all had a level of fatalism or cynicism about our inability to change any of those factors. Now, that is not true. There is a window of opportunity that has opened-a convergence of various forces resulting in a willingness of decision-makers to consider change. As a result, the wires are buzzing. In three weeks, there will be a national conference at Duke University sponsored by the Federal Advisory Committee on Civil Rules (the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation), the stated goal of which is to harness: "[l]nsights and perspectives from lawyers, judges and academics concerning improvements that could be made in the federal civil litigation process to effectuate the purposes of the Civil Rules-'to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.' In addition to considering the results of the empirical research, panels of experts will consider the range of issues in the federal civil litigation process that could be used more efficiently to accomplish the purposes of the Rules, including the discovery process (particularly E-Discovery), pleadings, and dispositive motions. Other topics to be considered include judicial management and the tools available to judges to expedite the process, the process of settlement, and the experience of the states." In anticipation of that conference, six nationwide surveys have been conducted, in addition to two statewide surveys and three empirical data survey analyses. To date, over thirty other papers have been submitted and that number grows daily. This conference at Pepperdine is taking place, another symposium sponsored by The Sedona Conference Institute took place last week, and other organizations around the country are dedicating time in their annual meetings to consideration of possible civil justice reform.