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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Upcoming US Courts Civil Litigation Conference at Duke Looks Quite Good But Lacks Science

An upcoming conference on federal civil litigation at Duke Law School is being advertised by the US Courts as a major conference that will shape the future of civil litigation. The agenda is indeed impressive as to rules and procedures, and the proceedings will be broadcast online. The agenda includes many judicial and non-judicial speakers with decades of experience (e.g. J. Rosenthal, Cabraser, Galanter, Willging, RAND/Pace, Eisenberg, Hensler, Miller, J. Newman, Hazard, Birnbaum, Susman, Resnik, J. Scheindlin, Nagareda, Levi, J. Scirica, J. Higginbotham).

It’s disappointing to see, however, that the agenda does not include any sessions focused on how mass torts and/or the science will evolve. With so much attention focused on "mass torts" and science, one would think we lawyers looking to the future might ask to hear from some well-regarded scientists about where they see science going over the years ahead, and the potential consequences for litigaton.

Set out below is the publicity from the US Court’s website linked to above.

April 12, 2010 —Access, fairness, cost, and delay in civil litigation in federal court will be the focus of a Conference, May 10-11, 2010, sponsored by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. The 2010 Civil Litigation Conference at the Duke University School of Law will present new data from several empirical studies on current litigation practice and proposals for improving civil litigation in the federal trial courts. In particular, data on actual litigation costs incurred by law firms and major corporations will be available for careful analysis. The Conference agenda is available here. The Conference will be streamed live over the Judiciary’s Newsroom website at

"This Conference hopes to build on the legacy of the 1976 Roscoe Pound Conference and all it contributed to the reform of the administration and delivery of justice in the federal system, as well as on the 1997 Boston College of Law Conference on Discovery" said Judge Mark Kravitz, chair of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. According to Judge Kravitz the cost of civil litigation will be among the topics to be discussed, and how recent Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Iqbal have focused attention on pleading standards and discovery.

"Much of the data to be presented at the Conference has not been available before," said Judge John G. Koeltl, a Civil Rules Committee member and Conference organizer. "This will be important new information on what is actually happening in different practice areas."

Nearly 200 nationally recognized federal judges, lawyers and professors and others with expertise in civil litigation are expected to attend. Duke University School of Law will host the Conference, which will take place in Room 3041 of the Duke Law School.

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