In my view, among the multiplicity of changes in the legal profession since 1970 are the following: technology, advertising, the draconian 2003 tort reform (HB 4/Proposition 12), mandatory arbitration, result-oriented appellate decisions reversing jury verdicts and the resultant reduction/diminishment of jury trials, the cost of legal education and legal services along with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic since December 2019.
I think it is a given that technology represents the dominant change in our profession over the last 50 years. Evolving technology continues to positively serve the public interest and the legal profession. I do not believe that tort reform, mandatory arbitration, or diminishment of trial by jury have served the public interests. Those changes have only served the special interests. (I think most trial lawyers—defense and plaintiffs—will agree.) I have no idea what will happen in the next 50 years. My hope is that advocacy for adherence to the rule of law, judicial independence, and jury trial preservation will ultimately prevail and not change.
Woodrow M. Roark