University of Denver

Convening Highlights the Role of Judges and Lawyers in Improving Motions Practice

Senior Director

While a significant focus of civil justice reform has been on the cost and delay of discovery, IAALS has heard the call for reform in the area of motions practice as well, which can similarly result in great cost and delay to the parties. In response, IAALS hosted a convening earlier this month at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs, Colorado, devoted to addressing the current challenges in dispositive motions practice.

The convening, part of IAALS’ DIAALOGUES series, brought together a small group of judges, attorneys, and scholars from around the country to spend two days identifying the current issues related to dispositive motions, as well as potential solutions designed to decrease cost and delay. These challenges exist at the state and federal levels, although both the challenges and the solutions may be unique. The goal of the convening was to bring together a diverse group to examine the issues from all perspectives.

The discussion was informed by early insights from a federal PACER docket study that IAALS is conducting, which provided background on current summary judgment processes as well as insights regarding innovations already in place around the country. Judge John Bates and Judge Jeremy Fogel also shared their insights from moderating the ABA’s Section of Litigation Roadshow 2.0 - Precision Advocacy: Reinventing Motion Practice to Win.

The convening highlighted the important role of early active case management. Judges are engaging in innovative informal processes around the country to narrow disputes and make the process more efficient. Attorneys also have an important role to play, and formal or informal “meet and confers” could go a long way to streamline the process and make motions more effective. The different challenges across the federal and state systems were also clear, suggesting that different solutions are necessary.

IAALS will be pulling together the takeaways and working over the next year to pull together a set of recommendations for improving dispositive motions practice so as to ensure a “just, speedy, and inexpensive” determination in every case.