The Decline of Trial Opportunities
In this month’s ABA Journal, there is a 40 page feature on “Lions of the Trial Bar,” highlighting seven legendary trial lawyers over the age of seventy. These senior members have had remarkable careers and continue to represent their clients in landmark trials.
A sidebar article to this feature takes a look at what litigation is like today. As most young lawyers who practice litigation know, the number of cases that actually go to trials have significantly decreased. The article notes that during 2006, only 1.3 percent of federal civil cases went to trial. It is likely that the trend will continue downwards.
From recent personal experience, I believe there is almost an economic disincentive to go to trial. Particularly in this day and age, it is often difficult to justify the expenses, time and risk of preparing for and going to trial to clients. As a result, we may tend to push for and recommend settlement of cases rather than go to trial.
So what this means is that there are fewer opportunities for young lawyers to develop courtroom skill. Instead, we end up developing other skills, such as writing and negotiation. Who knows, perhaps when we reach our 70s, the ABA Journal will instead feature an article on the mediation and negotiation legends of the bar.