University of Denver

Change the Culture, Change the System

Top 10 Cultural Shifts Needed to Create the Courts of Tomorrow
Senior Director

IAALS and others have catalogued and documented the case for civil justice reform over the past ten years. The results of multiple nationwide surveys have found that cost is too high and it affects court access; delay increases cost; and discovery is responsible for much of the unnecessary cost and delay.

The challenge in addressing these issues lies not only in crafting solutions—it is also overcoming lawyers’ and judges’ strong and well-documented resistance to change. Change is never easy, and the legal system represents a long-established and mature organization, making such change even more difficult.

In our efforts to create the just, speedy, and inexpensive courts of tomorrow, we cannot ignore the important role of legal culture in our system.

The research on culture change, and legal culture in particular, suggests that culture change for the legal system is an uphill battle. While we have a clear challenge ahead, that does not mean that it is impossible. We propose ten cultural shifts for the purpose of promoting that national dialogue. We recognize some commentators may push back on this list as merely aspirational, impossible, or even a bit controversial. Yet we are of the view that the time for bold action has come.