September 01, 2013

Rethinking Civil Litigation in Federal District Court

A judge suggests ways to conform litigation practices to present-day realities.

Hon. Patrick J. Walsh

Over the past 200 years, litigation in federal courts has continually changed. The greatest change has taken place in the past 25 or 30 years. During this period, we have seen the almost total disappearance of civil trials in federal court. Trials have been largely supplanted by motions practice and settlement. But lawyers have not responded to this change and still conduct pretrial as if their cases are going to trial. I think that is a mistake, and in this article I offer suggestions as to what litigants and courts can do to conform their practices to the present-day realities of civil litigation in the federal courts.

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