On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, NJCJI hosted a training session on civil justice reform for legislative staff, government affairs professionals, and other interested parties. The event featured remarks from NJCJI staff, practicing attorneys, and the business community, all focusing on what civil justice reform actually is and why it is important.
Seth Lamont, CNA Insurance, Inc. and Chairman of NJCJI kicked off the training with a discussion of the real world implications of having a legal climate that is hostile to business. Lamont reminded attendees that New Jersey is one of the most litigious states in the most litigious country in the world. He explained the state’s legal climate plays a critical when businesses are decided where to locate and expand. The first factor businesses look at is the quality of the workforce, and the element of next greatest importance is the state’s legal climate. Legal climate is more important in business citing decisions than tax climate because tax climate is more predictable.
NJCJI’s Chief Counsel, Alida Kass, then briefed the group on how to spot troublesome liability issues in proposed legislation. She laid out four red flags to look for: legislation that amends existing statutes that provide for attorney’s fees and court costs, such as the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act; regulatory bills that include one-way fee-shifting; the absence of language clarifying that the bill does not create new liability; and new language that has yet to be tested by the courts.
A review of NJCJI’s top legal reform priorities by NJCJI’s President, Marcus Rayner provided an in-depth look at how NJCJI’s legislative agenda is targeted at specific issues that have been identified by New Jersey businesses and lawyers. Click here to view a summary of the Institute’s agenda or to dig deeper on one of the specific topics.
David Osterman, a Partner at Goldberg Segalla a member of NJCJI’s Legal Advisory Board reinforced the need for legal reform in New Jersey by providing examples of real cases he has worked on that have been impacted by the state’s overly broad consumer fraud act and lack of consistent standards when it comes to expert testimony.
A short discussion on how to communicate the importance of legal reform from Emily Kelchen, NJCJI’s Director of Public Affairs, closed out the event. She stressed the importance of talking about specific issues rather than the general concept of legal reform and reminded attendees that NJCJI provides updates on all of the state’s civil justice issues in the weekly NJCJI newsletter, on the NJCJI website, and through Twitter and Facebook.
If you are interested in attending similar trainings in the future or would like a member of the NJCJI staff to speak to your organization, please give us a call at 609.392.6557 or email Marcus, Alida, or Emily.