Judge Posner Wants to Get Rid of Lawyers

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 01, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ever the lightning rod for controversy, former federal judge Richard Posner recently described his vision for lawyer-less civil trials. According to a Chicago Tribune piece, Posner would like to see real litigants go to trial like on Judge Judy.

Not only would he like to see this, he believes that a judge could in fact order parties to go to trial without attorneys. That, because there is no constitutional right to an attorney in civil cases, all it would take is for a "judge who's willing to say 'I'm not going to let either side have any lawyers. ... I don't want to have the case clogged up with lawyers.'" While Posner is known for making wild statements about the legal industry, this one might just be a daydream he failed to realize before stepping down from the bench.

Leveling the Playing Field of Justice

While ordering litigants to trial without their attorneys is absolutely an awful pitch to those working in the legal sector, Posner believes it could level the playing field. Wealthy individuals and big businesses would not have as much of an advantage over regular people.

Like non-adversarial, judge led, justice systems found in other nations, individual plaintiffs could potentially fare much better and have better access to justice if corporations could not use lawyers to defend themselves in court. However, these non-adversarial forums are not really like "Judge Judy" as that's as adversarial as it gets.

The Civil Trial Lawyer-less World

In this lawyer-less civil court world that Posner envisions, it might just be that trial and litigation lawyers play a different role. Undoubtedly, courts would need much more help researching and administering cases, and private parties and businesses would likely be seeking private consultations and preparation sessions. The appellate legal industry would also likely make large gains, as private parties and business seek to overturn verdicts they don't like. Also, let's not forget the part robots will play.

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