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Since 1925 UCLA has honored its most distinguished scholars by selecting them to deliver this special annual lecture. By honoring them in this way, members of the academic community have an opportunity to appreciate these scholars' achievements in a way they may not have otherwise had.


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102nd Faculty Research Lecture

What's Not Wrong With the Civil Legal System—And What Is

Stephen C. Yeazell
David G. Price and Dallas P. Price Professor of Law
UCLA School of Law

April 12, 2007


Stephen Yeazell joined the UCLA faculty in 1975, with a B.A. in English from Swarthmore College , an M.A. in English from Columbia University , and a J.D. from Harvard Law School . He served as a law clerk to Justice Mathew O. Tobriner of the California Supreme Court. Appointed Professor of Law in 1979, he has held the David G. Price & Dallas P. Price Chair in Law since 2001.

Professor Yeazell has done research in two fields. His early work, which focused on the history of the class action—organizing otherwise dispersed groups for the purposes of litigation purposes--culminated in From Medieval Group Litigation to the Modern Class Action (Yale University Press 1987). In it he argued that group litigation had roots going back to the Norman Conquest and that the current role of the class action goes back to the eighteenth century. The question of whether the class action had historical roots was a subject of substantial scholarly and political saliency at the time. His account has been widely accepted—cited, for example, in U.S. Supreme Court opinions.

Over the past 15 years, Professor Yeazell has focused on the topic of this afternoon's lecture: the evolution of civil procedure and civil litigation since 1900 and particularly during the past few decades. Pursuing this investigation, he has published a series of articles examining the ways in which changes in the legal profession, in the rules of procedure and in the financing of lawsuits, have transformed civil litigation. Carrying this research into the classroom, he has mounted new courses in contemporary civil litigation, in international civil litigation, and in comparative civil and criminal procedure.


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