The ABA Judicial Division Turns 100: The Management of Courts and Cases

Vol. 53 No. 3

Peter M. Koelling is the director and chief counsel of the ABA Judicial Division. Koelling was a law clerk for the Texas Supreme Court, was in private practice, and has worked in court administration in Texas, Washington, and Colorado. He also holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.


After World War II, the concepts that Arthur Vanderbilt had championed as ABA president slowly began to take hold. As chief justice of New Jersey beginning in 1948, he was able to start to implement many of these new ideas about how the courts should be run at the state level. It was not surprising that New Jersey was the first state to have a state court administrator. These ideas flourished elsewhere. The first trial court administrator was hired in 1950, the number of states using such administrators reached 35 in 1969, and, by 1977, an estimated 420 trial court administrators were actively working in the field.

As their numbers grew, judges started to think about ways to manage their courts and their cases. In the ’60s, the Judicial Division began to focus on the issue of caseflow management and having the court be responsible for cases rather than waiting for the parties to take action. In 1973, Maureen Solomon began to develop these ideas and wrote Caseflow Management in the Trial Court, which was published by the ABA. Following its publication, a number of studies were undertaken investigating the pace of litigation and the cause of delay. These studies influenced Solomon, who, along with Doug Somerlot, revised and refined their ideas about caseflow management.

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