By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Where does trial knowledge live now? As always, it is a safe bet that it lives in the hearts and minds of very experienced trial attorneys: Those who frequently see the inside of a courtroom and commonly take a case all the way to a jury verdict. But based on many reports, those "frequent triers" in the courtroom are more scarce than they were a generation ago, or even a decade ago. So the nature of what "trial experience" means is changing as well. To be sure, there are individuals, venues, and areas of practice where the jury trial is as alive as its ever been. But on the whole, particularly in the higher stakes civil litigation arena, the actual experience of taking a case to jury verdict is in decline. Cases that used to try, now settle, or get dispensed in summary judgment, or are never filed because tort reform has limited the potential return.
So, if we can rely less on the iconic veteran trial-warrior whose cases number in the hundreds, where else does trial knowledge live now? I would say that the shifting nature of the litigation scene calls for a broader definition of trial experience, and I'd humbly add that an increasingly important part of what we call trial experience lives right here: In the blog you're reading and many other blogs like it. I'm thankful (it is Thanksgiving, after all) for making it, for the third time, on the ABA Journal's list of the 100 best legal blogs, one of only eight in the category of "litigation," by the way. Online communities, like the ABA Journal's Blawg 100, are creating new sources of trial advice and we at Persuasive Litigator are honored to be among them. So, on this occasion of the blog's third induction into the ABA list, I wanted to share a justification for the "Blawgosphere" as a important supplemental source of trial knowledge, and share a few resources you may not be aware of.