Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation Task Force

In January 2011, the Board of Governors created the Task Force on the Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation to assess the costs of civil litigation in Washington state courts and develop recommendations to control costs. The task force charter adopted by the Board defined costs as attorney time and expenses advanced for the purpose of litigation. The charter directed the task force to focus on the types of litigation that are typically filed in superior courts and district courts of Washington and to survey neighboring and similarly situated states to compare the cost of litigation in Washington.

Seattle attorney and former Board member Russ Aoki chaired the 17-member task force along with 10 other WSBA members. The task force also included two members who practice in federal courts, one who is licensed and practices in Oregon, a judge from each level of court (limited jurisdiction, superior, and appellate), and a representative of the court clerks' association. View the member roster.


The task force first met on July 12, 2011, and concluded its last meeting on May 20, 2015. All meetings were held at the WSBA offices. Meeting Minutes.

The task force considered several factors that impact litigation costs:

  • Attorney time (legal fees)
  • Case management (case schedules, trial dates, fast track)
  • Case type
  • Access to justice (making legal services more affordable)
  • Pro se litigants
  • Public perception of the legal system; impact on diverse Washington communities
  • Use of alternative dispute resolution
  • Litigation costs
  • Economic motives that may increase the cost of litigation

To analyze the factors in greater detail, the task force formed 4 subcommittees: 
  • Pleadings and Motion Practice (chaired by Eric de los Santos)
  • Discovery (chaired by Todd Nunn)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (chaired by Jerry McNaul)
  • Trial Procedure (co-chaired by Hon. Richard McDermott and Gail Nunn)
  • District Court (chaired by Hon. Marcine Anderson)

Additional WSBA members who were not members of the task force but had specialized knowledge and expertise in specific areas were added to the subcommittees to provide further assistance.  

In the fall of 2013, the task force surveyed over 6,000 Bar members for their perspectives on the costs of civil litigation and possible approaches to reduce costs. The survey was directed to WSBA sections involved in litigation, minority bar associations, the Washington State Association for Justice, and Washington Defense Trial Lawyers. In February 2015, the task force distributed a preliminary draft report which included the results of the survey and reports from the subcommittees to stakeholders for comment. Following the comment period, the task force met again to consider the feedback it had received and to incorporate adjustments to the report's recommendations. 

The task force issued its final report on June 15, 2015, and introduced the report to the Board of Governors at the July 24-25, 2015, Board meeting. The Board will hold a series of comprehensive presentations examining each of the report's recommendations during its regular meetings. Please check the Board of Governors meeting schedule and upcoming agendas for presentation dates and times. The Board is expected to take action on the task force recommendations in 2016. Public comment on the published final report can be directed to

Interim Reports

Contact Us

Russ Aoki
Aoki Law PLLC
1720 Olive Way, Ste 1525
Seattle, WA 98101-1816

Jeanne Marie Clavere, WSBA Staff Liaison

ECCL Task Force Final Report

June 15, 2015