With the advent of COVID-19 and the abrupt halt of in-person court appearances came sweeping changes to the practice of law. The experience of new and young lawyers is no exception. As lawyers in their early years of practice look to the future, they see the upward trajectory of their careers waver. Prior to the global pandemic, obtaining in-person court experience was becoming increasingly difficult. Developing attorneys in all practice areas were familiar with being shut out of significant courtroom experiences because of lack of opportunity or reluctance by carriers, clients, or senior counsel to assign them.
Now, with the perfect storm of COVID-19 closures, an astronomical backlog of cases, and significant judicial vacancies across the state, the emerging attorney’s obstacles to gaining courtroom experience seem insurmountable. The resolution of tens of thousands of cases across every area of law have been delayed. This stagnation has caused a ripple effect through the entire legal industry, reaching even the most junior attorney. At a time when 87,000 cases are in backlog, judicial vacancies flicker between 14% and 20% of the bench, and it is taking anywhere from 16 to 24 months to fill these vacancies, the future of courtroom experience for new and young lawyers seems especially grim.