Although the overall percentage of cases filed actually going to trial remains predictably low (around 2-3%, depending on where you’re getting your data, the period covered, and type of case), this year has started off (for us, anyway) with a trend we’ve seen before during times of economic growth. I’m not going to get all analytical here, but it is noteworthy to those involved in litigation and related services.
At just over halfway through February, we’ve had twenty cases on our 2018 trial calendar, and nine have settled. Some of these have not yet started trial, but that is a 45% settlement rate, or 55% of our cases have gone or appear to be going to trial.
Compared to recent years where we have seen a lower volume but higher “run” rate (around 80% in 2017), this seems to indicate that the use of technology-driven litigation support services (e.g., trial presentation) have become the desired or default method of presenting evidence. In other words, more trial teams are bringing in qualified assistance earlier in the litigation, and not waiting until the last minute, when all efforts at settlement or resolution have been completely exhausted. I see this as a win for everyone – the trial team gets some assistance and direction early on, the client gets the benefit of additional preparation, and of course, the service provider benefits as well. Trials are not won by intentionally limiting preparation.
Although this is certainly not a scientific study, I see our little sampling as very encouraging and beneficial for everyone involved in litigation – from the Plaintiff to the Expert Witness, attorneys and jurors. Even the Court benefits when technology is properly utilized in trial, shortening the length of a matter significantly.
I’ve heard many excuses over the years attempting to justify not using technology (see Why You Should NOT Use Technology in Your Trial), and we’ve all seen how technology can reshape an entire industry (e.g., Uber, Lyft and Taxi Cabs).
Whether you hope to settle or try your case, it is always advisable to plan for the best, and prepare for the worst.