RAND and UCLA Conference

Transparency in the Civil Justice System

An Initiative of RAND Institute for Civil Justice and UCLA School of Law

Gavel and law books


November 2, 2007


8:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.


UCLA School of Law
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095


The civil justice system serves many critical functions in the United States, such as protecting property interests, upholding rights, determining compensation, and providing incentives to avoid harming others. But unlike many other public institutions, the civil justice system has been moving away from transparency and toward greater secrecy of operations.

Evidence of this development can be seen in a number of trends: the vanishing trial—the most public forum in the system for dispute resolution—the rise of private judging, and the increasing prevalence of secret settlements. While these trends have clear benefits, such as reducing the cost of litigation and decongesting the courts, they also obscure the window of public scrutiny into the civil justice system at a time when public confidence in the system is low.

One of the most important values of transparency is that policymakers, researchers, and the public have access to data on the workings of the system. Transparency makes it possible to improve understanding of the system, assess how well it is performing, and evaluate alternative proposals for reform. Without data, reform initiatives are not informed by analysis and are typically perceived as partisan: unjustified protections for defendants or windfalls for various special interest groups. Also, because the few reforms that are implemented cannot be evaluated without data, it is impossible to determine if they have succeeded in achieving their objectives, created unintended consequences, or had no effect whatsoever.

Researchers at the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and UCLA School of Law are collaborating on an analysis of the issue of transparency, both its advantages and disadvantages, in many aspects of the civil justice system. The following questions guide their research:

  • Are there specific examples of problems in the civil justice system that might have been avoided if the system were more transparent? What are the risks associated with too much transparency?
  • How can the civil justice system balance the value of privacy with the value of transparency?
  • What mechanisms are involved in providing greater transparency? What are the costs, and who pays them?
  • Will greater transparency improve the civil justice system? Is it likely to improve accountability and increase public confidence?
  • Are there examples of reforms that have led to greater transparency? Have they affected outcomes in the system? Have they improved efficiency in the system?
  • Can plaintiffs and defendants agree on a cohesive vision of increased transparency in the civil justice system?

The papers presented at the Transparency in the Civil Justice System will be collected in a book that will be released at an event on Capitol Hill in Summer 2008.

UCLA School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. 6.25 hours of MCLE credit available for this conference.

Presenters and Panelists

Conference Agenda


Michael Rich, Executive Vice President, RAND Corporation
Michael Schill, Dean, UCLA Law School


Opening Remarks
Kenneth R. Feinberg, The Feinberg Group, LLP Special Master, Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund


PANEL/DISCUSSION: Transparency and Compensation: How does transparency affect mass settlements




PANEL/DISCUSSION: Transparency and Privacy: The Growth of Private Dispute Resolution and Confidentiality Agreements


Lunch Keynote:
Ron George, Chief Justice, California Supreme Court


PANEL/DISCUSSION: Transparency and System Performance: Insurance, Accountability, and Reform


PANEL/DISCUSSION: Transparency and Public Policy


Closing Remarks
Raoul D. Kennedy, Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Event Committee

Phillip Baker, Baker Keener and Nahra
Catherine Barrad, Sidley Austin
Rick Bayer, Macerich
Sheila Birnbaum, Skadden Arps
Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., Gibson Dunn and Crutcher
Brad Brian, Munger Tolles and Olson
Kim Brunner, State Farm Mutual Insurance Company
Jon Chait, Hudson Highland Group
Ken Feinberg, Feinberg Group and 9/11 Special Master
Thomas V. Girardi, Girardi and Keese
Hon. Ron George, California Supreme Court
Dawn Haghighi, Cunard Cruises
David Hauge, Sonnenschein, Nash and Rosenthal
Christian Lahstein, Munich Re
George Lykos, Bayer
Patrick McNicholas, McNicholas and McNicholas
Donna Melby, Paul Hastings 
Michael Rich, RAND
Michael Schill, UCLA School of Law
Michael Traynor, American Law Institute
Dennis Wallace, AIG
Hon. Daniel Weinstein (Ret.), JAMS
Neal Wolin, Hartford Insurance