Charles J. Zauzig, III was honored with the Arthur W. Sinclair Professionalism Award from the Prince William County Bar Association at their annual dinner dance earlier this month. The award recognizes a member who demonstrates the highest standards of honor, integrity, competency and courtesy within the legal profession. Mr. Zauzig is the President of Nichols Zauzig.
In his remarks, summarized below, Mr. Zauzig spoke about the decline in the number of jury trials and the lawyer’s responsibility in that downward trend.
Trials by jury are shrinking in this country and we lawyers are part of the problem. If you look at the Civil Jury Project in New York studies, you’ll see that less than 1 percent of civil cases filed in this country are decided by jury trials. That percentage has declined steadily over the years.
There are a lot of reasons why jury trials are shrinking. We lawyers have responsibility for part of it, for not taking cases to trial. We’ve become dealmakers instead of trial lawyers. We’ve been given this God-given gift and we need to use it.
People should go into the field of trial law because it’s a calling. And because they believe they’re really going to help other people. That’s what I wanted to do. As a young criminal attorney, I took court-appointed criminal cases to learn how to try cases in front of a jury.
Now, too many people go into this field for the wrong reason, thinking they will make a lot of money. Attorneys can become partners in litigation firms without having ever tried a case before a jury.
The jury process is democracy in action. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.”
Mr. Zauzig is a specialist and national lecturer in the field of personal injury/medical malpractice. While he started his legal career in criminal defense, he found his legal passion in medical malpractice and personal injury.
Mr. Zauzig has been named by Lawyer of the Year five times for the Washington, D.C. area by Best Lawyers®. He was named Lawyer of the Year, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs in 2019 and 2014. He was named Lawyer of the Year, Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs in 2018, 2016 and 2011.
Mr. Zauzig is a former President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA), which honored him in 2017 with their Distinguished Service Award. He is a fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers, which is limited to the top 1% of lawyers in any state or province in North America.
For his commitment to legal teaching and training, the Southern Trial Lawyers awarded Mr. Zauzig with the Professor W. McKinley Smiley, Jr. Lighthouse award in 2013. Mr. Zauzig continues his involvement in law education as a frequent lecturer and teacher for trial lawyers throughout the country.