Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation Task Force

In January 2011, the WSBA Board of Governors created the Task Force on the Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation to assess the costs of civil litigation in Washington state courts and develop recommendations to control costs. The task force charter adopted by the Board defined costs as attorney time and expenses advanced for the purpose of litigation. The charter directed the task force to focus on the types of litigation that are typically filed in superior courts and district courts of Washington and to survey neighboring and similarly situated states to compare the cost of litigation in Washington.

Seattle attorney and former Board member, Russ Aoki, chaired the 17-member task force along with 10 other WSBA members. The task force also included two members who practice in federal courts, one who is licensed and practices in Oregon, a judge from each level of court (limited jurisdiction, superior, and appellate), and a representative of the court clerks' association. Member roster

The task force issued its final report on June 15, 2015, and introduced the report to the Board of Governors at the July 24-25, 2015, board meeting. The Board will hold a series of comprehensive presentations and discussions examining each of the report's recommendations during its regular meetings. Please see the presentation schedule below for deadlines to submit public comments on the specific recommendations to be addressed. Comments may be directed to ECCL@wsba.org.

Board of Governors Presentation Schedule for the Final Report

Note: See WSBA Governance for meeting locations, times, agenda and materials.

First Presentation - Jan. 28-29, 2016

  • Initial Case Schedule
  • Judicial Assignment
  • 2-Tier Litigation
  • Mandatory Discovery Conference
  • Mandatory Disclosures
  • Proportionality and Cooperation

Second Presentation - March 10, 2016  (Deadline for comments is Feb. 24, 2016)

  • Presumptive Discovery Limits
  • E-Discovery
  • Motions Practice

Third Presentation - April 15-16, 2016 (Deadline for comments is March 30, 2016)

  • Pretrial Conference
  • District Court
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution

First Reading on Board response - June 3, 2016

Final Action on Board response - July 22-23, 2016

Work of the Task Force

The task force met from July 2011 to May 2015. See meeting minutes. Members identified several factors that impact litigation costs:

  • Attorney time (legal fees)
  • Case management (case schedules, trial dates, fast track)
  • Case type
  • Access to justice (making legal services more affordable)
  • Pro se litigants
  • Public perception of the legal system; impact on diverse Washington communities
  • Use of alternative dispute resolution
  • Litigation costs
  • Economic motives that may increase the cost of litigation

The task force formed four working subcommittees to examine the factors in context in greater detail and make recommendations to the task force. Additional WSBA members who were not members of the task force, but had specialized knowledge and expertise in specific areas were added to the subcommittees to provide further assistance.  

  • Pleadings and Motion Practice (chaired by Eric de los Santos)
  • Discovery (chaired by Todd Nunn)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (chaired by Jerry McNaul)
  • Trial Procedure (co-chaired by Hon. Richard McDermott and Gail Nunn)
  • District Court (chaired by Hon. Marcine Anderson)

Member Survey

In the fall 2013, the task force surveyed more than 6,000 Bar members for their perspectives on the costs of civil litigation and possible approaches to reduce costs. The survey was directed to WSBA Sections involved in litigation, minority bar associations, the Washington State Association for Justice, and Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. See ECCL Survey questions and member responses.

In February 2015, the task force distributed a preliminary draft report which included the results of the survey and reports from the subcommittees to stakeholders for comment. Following the comment period, the task force met again to consider the feedback it had received and to incorporate adjustments to the report's recommendations. The final report was issued on June 15, 2015.

Contact Us

Russ Aoki
Aoki Law PLLC
1200 Fifth Ave., Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98101-3106

Jeanne Marie Clavere, WSBA Staff Liaison
jeannec@wsba.org

ECCL Task Force Final Report

June 15, 2015

ECCL Task Force Survey

Survey questions and member responses

Interim Reports

Interim reports provided to the Board of Governors