David Boies ("the Michael Jordan of trial attorneys," as he was introduced at Wednesday's Lawyers' Club of San Francisco annual California Supreme Court lunch) called for members of the legal profession to do more to help people get justice in a cost-effective way.
"It costs too much to litigate today," said Boies, founder and chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, upon accepting his Access to Justice award at the lunch.
Boies said attorneys should pare cases down to their essentials early on, and that limits on discovery and on the time allowed before a case goes to trial would save time and money for the justice system.
"I've taken depositions that went on for an embarrassing amount of time," he said, recalling one that lasted 14 days.
But conserving resources will widen access to justice, he said. "We must make trials less expensive."
Boies touched on his legal challenge to Prop. 8 only once, and in passing, noting that when he started practicing law, "it wasn't just gays and lesbians who couldn't get married."
Despite strides made in the law since then, he said, "our contribution" to the justice system has been to stand by while legal expenses ballooned, more people were priced out of representation and courts shut down for lack of funding.
"That is our legacy, and that, I suggest to you, is what we need to deal with," he said.
Chief Justice Ronald George, who introduced the court at the lunch, was joined by Justices Kathryn Werdegar, Ming Chin and Marvin Baxter.
First reported in the blog Legal Pad.