Guest blogger: David Stringer is Assistant General Counsel at Progressive and Secretary and Advocacy Liaison for the ACC Northeast Ohio Chapter.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a “Cash Only” tollbooth lane with exact change? And you had to wait patiently in line while the tollbooth operator made change for the drivers in front of you, while drivers in the “Exact Change” lanes moved past you? Pretty annoying, right? Well, the Northeast Ohio Chapter agrees and we’ve since learned that so does ACC Advocacy. ACC and the Northeast Ohio Chapter joined forces recently to support permanently maintaining a dedicated docket — the “Commercial Docket” – to hear commercial litigation in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The reason is simple: When you have exact change, it’s usually easier to be in the exact-change lane.
Currently, there are more than 40 court programs in 22 states that have either permanent or pilot commercial dockets. The Supreme Court of Ohio is among them. It adopted temporary rules to establish a Commercial Docket in 2008 and made the rules permanent in April 2013. That gave the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court an opportunity in June 2013 to determine whether to keep the Commercial Docket or do away with it.
As repeat players in commercial disputes, ACC and the Northeast Ohio Chapter know that in-house counsel stand on the side of keeping the Docket. The advantages for business are straightforward:
- speed to dispute resolution,
- experience in resolving business disputes, and
- reliable guidance for ongoing conduct.
And because of these advantages, the benefits for in-house counsel are big. Our members report that they include:
- reducing the impact of the legal department as a “cost center” because of efficiencies in the Commercial Docket; and
- improving the reliability of the counsel that in-house attorneys can give their clients, thanks to an easily accessible stream of commercial decisions.
Our members who are parties to cases on the Commercial Docket describe it as a resounding success. So, we’re glad to have pushed for a positive vote from the judges on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to continue the docket. And we’re delighted to report that our voice was heard. On July 2, the judges of the Common Pleas Court voted to continue the docket permanently, with some modifications, including doubling (from two to four) the number of Commercial Docket judges.
There is a lesson here for all of us: Let ACC know when there is an issue that affects your organization! You can start with your local chapter (as happened here) or with ACC’s Advocacy team. Either way, you’ll find resources, guidance and experience. And you can make a difference.