Litigating in the 21st Century

By | 18th March 2010

Slaughter & May hosted the latest meeting of the Commercial Litigators’ Forum on March 17th. The theme of the evening was “Litigating in the 21st Century” and there was a huge turn out.

Perhaps this was not surprising as the speakers were Professor Richard Susskind OBE and Robert Graham-Campbell of Maitland Chambers.

The aim of the seminar was “to provide clients with an overview of the implications for the traditional litigation model of Lord Justice Jackson’s Civil Litigation Costs Review, developments in the outsourcing market and the proposed introduction of alternative business structures such as Legal Disciplinary Partnerships and Barrister-only Partnerships”.

Any clients attending were, I suspect, the happier bunch at the end of the evening as the lawyers’ traditional model took something of a hammering despite spirited opposition from the floor at question time.

I propose to come back to some of the themes in a later post but to give you a flavour, the topics covered included:

  • Dispute avoidance
  • Legal Risk Management
  • Multisourcing (as opposed to mere outsourcing)
  • Online Dispute Resolution
  • Third Party Litigation Funding
  • Rio Tinto’s GC and multi-million dollar costs savings
  • The survival of senior advocates and the Chambers style model with its low cost structure
  • Contract lawyers
  • Adversarial as opposed to inquisitorial
  • An end to clients paying to train lawyers learning on the job.

It was wonderful stuff and delivered in the most entertaining fashion. As our host, Richard Clark of Slaughter & May, put it, he had never seen a CLF meeting overrun for 20 minutes when drinks and excellent canapés were waiting with no one getting up and leaving!

As a postscript, I have been alerted to an aticle in today’s Times, touching on many of the same subjects: Eversheds report looks at how ‘perfect storm’ will affect the legal profession, 18 March, 2010.

More on all this later!