The vast majority of civil cases settle before trial. Most lawyers estimate the number to be higher than 90%. That is consistent with my own experience, which is that most cases settle through a process of negotiation (sometimes involving mediators, sometimes not) that occurs several months before trial. 2 or 3 times per year, I prepare for trial and the case settles a few days before the trial begins – sometimes the night before. Once or twice a year, I find myself wearing my robes on a Monday morning, starting a trial.