Yale University law professor John Langbein recently published an article in which he proclaimed that civil trials in the United States have "disappeared," a change that he attributed to reforms made decades ago to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The reforms were designed to make trials run more smoothly by encouraging parties to do more work beforehand. But according to Langbein, the reforms worked so well that most litigation activity now happens in the pretrial process. The parties have already turned over so much evidence, and the judges have already made so many rulings, that everyone has a good idea of how the trial itself will turn out. The result is that parties are far more likely to settle today. (You can find Langbein's article in the December 2012 issue of the Yale Law Journal, and read an interview with him on our Am Law Litigation Daily website, litigationdaily.com.)
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