Project History:

Beginning in 2007, IAALS and the American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice partnered to study cost and delay in America’s civil justice system and propose solutions. The research and Principles from this project have inspired reform across our state and federal systems.

One of the major themes that emerged from IAALS' research in partnership with the ACTL was that our civil justice system is indeed plagued with cost and delay, making the system inaccessible for many and inefficient for all. In 2009, IAALS and the Task Force jointly published a report, which included proposed Principles for responding to these problems and improving our civil justice system.

IAALS and the Task Force intended that the Principles from the Final Report be tested and evaluated in pilot projects in courts around the country, and jointly developed and published a model set of Pilot Project Rules for this purpose. This effort inspired multiple pilot projects around the country, including evaluations of these efforts:

Utah also implemented statewide rule changes that implemented initial disclosures and tiered discovery. 

At the same time, the Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, the rulemaking committees for the federal courts, recognized and focused on these issues. In May of 2010, the Advisory Committee convened a Conference on Civil Litigation at Duke University to study the current state of the civil justice system and to work toward solutions. Out of this conference grew a package of federal rule amendments, implemented on December 1, 2015, intended to remedy some of these problems. IAALS and the Task Force summited a joint comment to the Civil Rules Advisory Committee for its consideration during the amendments process.

IAALS also held two Summits during this time—in 2009 and 2012—focused on the landscape of innovation and how lawyers, judges, court personnel, and academics can further advance innovative solutions.

Final Report & Proposed Principles:


Reforming Our Civil Justice System: A Report on Progress and Promise

In 2015, IAALS and the Task Force finished their re-evaluation of the proposed Principles in light of the pilot project and rule reform experiences around the country since 2009, and issued a new report with updated Principles to guide future innovation.

The 24 new Principles call for a sharp realignment of the discovery process and greater court resources to manage cases.

Read and download the report.



Project Team:

Action on the Ground

Many states have heard the call to action.

The Action on the Ground map provides a visual representation of the various pilot projects and rules reform efforts around the country.

American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice (2007-2015)

IAALS began its collaboration with the Task Force in 2007, when it was appointed by the ACTL to work jointly with IAALS to explore the problems associated with discovery. This collaboration has led to a “nationwide discussion” about the state of our civil justice system and active consideration of proposed changes in that system to make it more accessible, affordable, efficient, and just. IAALS and the Task Force have collaborated on multiple publications, most notably the Final Report published in 2009 and its follow-up in 2015.

Jack Zouhary
Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division

Jack Zouhary
Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division