American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable

The American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable mission is to improve and protect all aspects of the civil justice system through shared, substantive and collaborative discourse on matters concerning the civil justice system, including the right to trial by jury, the existence of an adequately funded and independent judiciary, assurance of ethics and civility in the practice of law, and civic education of the public.

History of the Roundtable

Since 1996 the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) has sponsored a series of meetings of representatives of legal associations representing a broad segment of the civil trial practice. In attendance at various times were representatives of the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys (ARLA), the American Bar Association (ABA), ABA Section of Litigation, ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, (TIPS) the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (ADTA), the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Defense Research Institute (DRI), the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL), the Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California (ADCNC), The International Society of Barristers (ISOB), and the Federal Bar Association (FBA). Since 1997 the joint meetings have been entitled the American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable and the participating groups have been referred to as the Roundtable participants or organizations. 

The meetings were organized to bring together representatives of the most significant law or Bar related organizations and trial practitioners representing diverse viewpoints in the civil trial Bar and to gain their expert assessment of the state of the civil trial system and make recommendations in that regard. The participants acknowledged the lack of consensus about the validity of some issues, but they stressed the importance of having a forum in which to exchange ideas.

Many of the changes proposed in the civil justice system debated in legislatures and other forums in the recent past have not emanated from the civil trial Bar. For nearly 20 years, others from outside the system have played a leading role in crafting proposals and offering ideas to change America’s civil justice system. The vast experience of the practicing trial bar has not been sufficiently tapped in assessing whether the proposed changes in the civil justice system are needed or whether they will work to accomplish the reforms envisioned. 

Some general propositions supported by the Roundtable groups include the following: 

1. America’s civil justice system is often the envy of other nations in both the developed and developing world. 
2. The civil justice system operates best when each party is on as level a playing field as possible with regard to trial resources, and litigants are represented by qualified and competent counsel. 
3. A sophisticated economic system like that in place in the United States needs a reliable judicial system rendering fair and impartial justice. 

The civil justice system is designed to accomplish many competing or complementary goals and objectives that include fairness, confidence of the citizenry and litigants in the outcomes, impartial judges and juries, deterrence of wrongdoing and compensation for injury caused by wrongful conduct. Moreover, cases should move through the system expeditiously and efficiently. 

An advocacy system allowing vigorous cross examination is the best means in a democratic society for finding the truth and the jury trial still represents in most cases the best system devised for determining facts and reaching a just result when adverse parties three are involved in a dispute. 

The Roundtable participants discuss civil justice system issues and reached general agreement about the current condition of the civil justice system; the status of the civil trial practitioner today; the role of jurors and the status of the jury system; and the condition of court systems in the United States.

Participating Organizations

American Association for Justice
American Bar Association
American Bar Association, TIPS
American Bar Association, Litigation
American Bar Association, Jury Project
American Board of Trial Advocates
American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys
Association of Defense Trial Attorneys
DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
Federal Bar Association
Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
International Association of Defense Counsel
International Academy of Trial Lawyers
International Society of Barristers
National Bar Association
National Victim Crime Bar Association

Members with Observer Status

American College of Trial Lawyers
Council for Court Excellence
Institute for Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)
Lawyers for Civil Justice
National Association of Women Judges
National Center for State Courts
National Judicial College