University of Denver

ABA Midyear Panel to Highlight State Civil Justice Reform, Role of Attorneys

Senior Director

Later this week at the ABA Midyear Meeting, a panel discussion will focus on the current challenges facing our civil justice system, recommendations for achieving civil justice for all, and how to make these recommendations a reality in our state courts. Spoiler alert—bar leaders play an important role.

The panel will highlight a set of 13 recommendations, which identify steps courts can take now—and in the years ahead—to ensure a civil justice system that is more accessible, affordable, and fair for all. The recommendations come from a blue-ribbon Committee that researched and prepared the recommendations at the request of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ), with support from IAALS and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The final report, Call to Action: Achieving Civil Justice for All, was strongly endorsed by CCJ and the Conference of State Court Administrators. NCSC and IAALS are collaborating on a three-year implementation project, with support from the State Justice Institute, including an Implementation Roadmap for court leaders, concrete tools to assist with implementation, demonstration projects, and technical assistance.

The ABA panel will highlight the vital role bar leaders can play in this effort. As has been shown through pilot project efforts at the state level, bar leaders have been instrumental in bringing recommendations to the attention of court leaders, supporting courts as they implement change, and educating lawyers about their responsibility to make the recommendations a reality. The panel will feature the Committee Chair Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer of the Supreme Court of Oregon; Administrative Judge Jennifer D. Bailey of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida; Hannah Lieberman, Associate Dean for Clinical and Experiential Programs at the University of the District of Columbia; and former Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, now at Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend. The panel will be moderated by Don Bivens of Snell & Wilmer, who can speak from personal experience on the impact of bar leaders, as he chaired Arizona’s recent Committee on Civil Justice Reform.

Among the many resolutions it is scheduled to consider, the ABA House of Delegates will consider Resolution 102, which recommends that state courts develop a plan to improve the delivery of civil justice guided by the above recommendations. The resolution also urges bar associates to promote the recommendations.

Update: Resolution 102 was adopted by the ABA House of Delegates.

For those who missed the program, Legal Talk Network host Laurence Colletti interviewed the panel members at the ABA Midyear Meeting for this On the Road podcast. Together, the panelists discussed the report and recommendations for improving civil cases in our state courts.