An equitable society needs a place for its citizens to resolve personal conflicts -- and one that isn't too expensive or inefficient.
Civil justice is important. It does not get as much attention as the criminal justice system because the public safety issues are not as apparent. But for the vast majority of us, it's the law that most affects us -- property, contract, personal injury, construction, etc. -- and it does so daily. The civil justice system ensures that our lives can function, grounded in the rule of law.
But that system is currently plagued by high costs and complexity. For example, let's say your teenage daughter gets into a car crash with an uninsured motorist. She is badly injured and has to have shoulder surgery that eliminates her ability to get that tennis scholarship to college -- and now you must pay for the car, the medical bills, and college. You need to sue the uninsured driver. It's likely, however, that the costs of the litigation will exceed your losses -- and even more likely that it will take years to resolve the case. Too often today, the last place to go for actual justice is civil court.
Why? Runaway discovery and motions practice has led to runaway costs. A relatively small lawsuit can involve tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for depositions and document exchanges. Most attorneys today won't even consider taking cases where the possible award is under $100,000. Most lawsuits settle when one party or the other runs out of money, or when the cost-benefit scale tips. Indeed, only one percent of all civil cases ever even get to trial. As a result, the civil jury trial is all but gone.