University of Denver

Efficiency in Motion

Recommendations for Improving Dispositive Motions Practice in State and Federal Courts
Senior Director

Judges and attorneys from across the country point to dispositive motions as a critical area for reform. When used appropriately, these motions can make civil litigation more efficient, saving the court and the litigants time and money. But when they are filed reflexively, and are not thoughtfully managed or timely ruled upon by the court, they inject additional cost and delay into court systems across the country, ultimately undermining access to justice for all, from individuals to large companies.

Efficiency in Motion: Recommendations for Improving Dispositive Motions Practice in State and Federal Courts, calls for a new paradigm for motion practice in the United States. The report is the culmination of nearly three years of research, surveys, and expert input into the opportunities for improvement and innovation. The recommendations build off IAALS’ empirical study of summary judgment in 10 U.S. District Courts, Efficiency in Motion: Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Courts, which found that across the diverse sample of federal district courts, there is a statistically significant difference in terms of filing rate, length of motions and opinions, time to disposition, and time to ruling.

To address these findings, as well as additional areas for reform identified by national experts, the recommendations highlight animating principles and a set of 8 recommendations, including: principles of effective communication, avoiding one-size-fits-all approaches, prompt rulings, active and engaged case management, and expedited processes. More than just a set of recommendations, the report is a call for the bench and bar to get actively engaged in improving current motions practice with the goal of better outcomes for all.

Publication Series