About a dozen years ago I read Francis Wellman's The Art of Cross Examination. Wellman, writing in 1903, explains how everything settles and as a result, lawyers don't get good trial experience. I suppose 100 years is a long time to say the trend has accelerated, but it has certainly continued.
There are judges who are eager to try cases. Judge Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, I was once memorably told, would just as soon try a case as get out of bed in the morning. Trying a case in front of Judge Berrigan was a real joy. She and her clerk sat in the jury box, not on the bench, and listened attentively to everything. Other courts would happily let you know they would rather not go forward with the trial. There are fewer arguments now, too. I was fortunate that, by dint of effort on my part and grace on my superiors', I got to stand up in court and stumble through arguments early-on, getting the kinks out.
It is encouraging, then, to see a new project in New York and elsewhere, with rules specifically designed to encourage young lawyers to argue. I wonder if this will eventually help the judges, too - if lawyers can recognize their mistakes before they become ingrained, maybe there will be better arguments over the course of the profession. Trends aren't inevitable. Maybe trials, like coffee, will become the next object of botique expertise and fascination.