In today’s economy, many high profile and high paying jobs are facing a unpleasant outlook. In many scenarios, this occurs because technological advances render the position obsolete or there is an opportunity to outsource the work to lower cost labor overseas. These are the costs of progress and international trade. However, there are also some unexpected members in this undesirable club whose declining numbers cannot be directly attributed to a decreased need for their services or declining market value for their time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 700 fewer jobs for judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates in 2018 than existed in 2008. A few unfortunate developments have conspired to cause this decline, including:
- Government budget cuts
- The resulting increased usage of court furlough days
- Unusually low turnover (the average tenure for a judge is 14 years), which is at least in part due to the shrinking opportunities to dramatically increase their compensation with a move to the private sector.
This unfolding situation can only make our backlogged court system move even more slowly and further stress the ability to (i) deliver on the promise of a right to a speedy trial in criminal trials and (ii) provide resolution and financial relief from the effects of wrongdoing in a civil setting. In both scenarios, litigation costs will likely increase simply as a matter of the additional passage of time. In most jurisdictions, criminal matters get priority over civil cases. Consequently, civil courts will be disproportionately affected. In the civil arena, private arbitration continues to benefit, simply by being available to accept cases that otherwise can not get a courtroom.