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You're Invited! | DRI 2024 Annual Meeting

You’re invited to join DRI for the 2024 Annual Meeting, taking place on October 16-18 in Seattle! Sign up for exciting updates about networking events, speakers, programming, and exclusive member-only registration rates!


Nurturing Wellness: The Intersection of Charitable Giving and Practicing Law

By Ashley Brathwaite

In the fast-paced and often demanding world of law, prioritizing wellness can sometimes take a backseat to the demands of client work, court appearances, and billable hours. However, as lawyers navigate the intricacies of the legal landscape, it's essential to recognize the symbiotic relationship between personal wellness and professional success. Moreover, embracing charitable giving can serve as a powerful tool not only for bolstering individual well-being but also for fostering a positive impact on the broader community. Now is the time to let the work of the DRI Foundation, and specifically the DRI Cares and DRI for Life committees, help drive your efforts.

Understanding Wellness in the Legal Profession

Wellness encompasses physical, mental, and emotional well-being, all of which are crucial for lawyers to navigate the challenges inherent in our profession. The demanding nature of legal work can take a toll on lawyers if not managed effectively. Neglecting wellness can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and serious health issues.
Promoting wellness within the legal profession involves adopting practices that prioritize self-care, alternating focus between life outside of and inside work, and stress management. This can include regular exercise, mindfulness techniques, seeking support from peers or mentors, and creating teams to mitigate the risk of overwork. Additionally, fostering a supportive workplace culture that encourages open communication and prioritizes mental health resources can significantly contribute to overall well-being.

The Role of Charitable Giving

Charitable giving, whether through monetary donations, pro bono legal work, or volunteering time and expertise, offers lawyers a unique opportunity to not only give back to their communities but also enhance their own wellness. Engaging in philanthropic endeavors can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment beyond the confines of tracking legal spend and billable hours.

For lawyers, charitable giving can take various forms, from supporting legal aid organizations that provide access to justice for marginalized communities to volunteering at local schools or participating in initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. By leveraging their time, talent, and other resources to serve those in need, lawyers can make a meaningful difference while also reinforcing their commitment to ethical practice and social responsibility. Spending as little as a few minutes stuffing bags for Blessings in a Backpack at a DRI seminar can provide the momentum needed to start these efforts.

Benefits of Combining Wellness and Charitable Giving

The intersection of wellness and charitable giving offers numerous benefits, both personally and professionally. By engaging in philanthropy, lawyers can cultivate a sense of connection to their communities, broaden their perspectives, and gain valuable insights into social issues that may inform their legal practice.

Moreover, acts of generosity and altruism have been linked to improved mental health, increased life satisfaction, and reduced stress levels. By dedicating time and resources to charitable causes, lawyers can experience a sense of fulfillment that transcends the pressures of their profession, ultimately contributing to overall well-being.


In the legal profession, fostering wellness and engaging in charitable giving are not only compatible but mutually reinforcing endeavors. By prioritizing personal well-being and embracing philanthropy, lawyers can not only enhance their own lives but also make a meaningful impact on the business and communities they serve. The DRI Foundation is working to create both DRI Cares and DRI For Life opportunities at every seminar and the DRI 2024 Annual Meeting in October. Let this be the year to seek these out and promote them within your firm or legal department.

Brathwaite_Ashley_BIO updatedAshley Brathwaite of Ellis & Winters LLP is a versatile defense litigator.  She represents businesses and professionals facing product liability suits, malpractice litigation, premises liability claims, and allegations of unfair and deceptive trade practices.  She practices in North Carolina and South Carolina in the roles of national and regional counsel.  Ashley is actively involved in the DRI Foundation, as well as the DRI Women in the Law, Drug & Medical Device, and DRI for Life committees.  She is also the Immediate Past President of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys.


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Center Files Amicus Brief with US Supreme Court to Stop the Erosion of “Rigorous Analysis” Under Rule 23

On February 28, 2024, the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy—the public policy “think tank” and advocacy voice of DRI—filed an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court supporting the petitioner in Visa Inc. v. National ATM Council, Inc. No. 23-814.

The case presents an issue of particular importance to class action defense lawyers: the watering down of the “rigorous analysis” required for class certification in several circuits.  In Visa, Inc., the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed certification of a class comprised of hundreds of millions of individuals even though the district court failed to assess rigorously whether common issues predominated and even though there was a material dispute as to whether the class contained many uninjured persons.  The district court’s “notably terse” predominance analysis had found that plaintiffs “need only demonstrate a colorable method by which they intend to prove class-wide impact” at the certification stage, and found it unnecessary to resolve a material factual dispute as to whether the plaintiffs’ model swept in substantial numbers of uninjured plaintiffs without any mechanism for removing those individuals.

By affirming this method, the District of Columbia Circuit joined two other circuits in finding that material factual disputes among the parties pertaining to class certification need not be resolved, so long as the plaintiffs’ proposed method appears to be valid.  That stands in contrast to the approach adopted to four other circuits, which require district courts to resolve material factual disputes that bear on Rule 23 requirements.      

The Center for Law and Public Policy’s brief contends that the Supreme Court should reverse the District of Columbia Circuit, clarify that the majority rule is controlling, and require district courts to resolve material factual disputes that bear on Rule 23 requirements.  The watering down of the rigorous analysis required for class certification can have considerable, and usually dispositive, effect on class actions in a wide range of contexts. DRI’s members are frequently confronted by the precise issue raised by this petition, and their clients are affected by the erosion of the rigorous analysis standard required by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The Center’s brief was authored by Matthew T. Nelson and Thomas M. Amon of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mr. Nelson is member of the Center’s Amicus Committee and the DRI Board of Directors, and he chairs Warner’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice.  Mr. Amon is a member of DRI and the chair of Warner’s Class Action Defense Practice.

Amon_Thomas updated  matt nelson updated

Amon, Nelson


Has Your Committee Contributed to The Brief Case Yet?

The Brief Case DRI Committee News

Featuring content from DRI's substantive law committees, our committee e-newsletter provides an excellent way for you to reach a more targeted audience.

Learn about The Brief Case: DRI Committee News and DRI's other publications on our website.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Reach out to our publications team at submissions@dri.org.


Top 5 Reasons to Join a Substantive Law Committee

You can personalize your membership by opting to join any DRI Substantive Law Committees (SLC) at no additional cost.

Joining an SLC connects you to your peers and puts you on a path to leadership with abundant opportunities. It can help you:

  1. Expand Your Referral Network: Connect with your peers and get referrals from your fellow SLC members. 

  2. Get Free PR: SLCs provide complimentary speaker and publishing opportunities to help you position yourself as a subject matter expert at your firm. 

  3. Obtain On-the-Job Leadership Training: SLCs give you the opportunity to lead projects, placing you on the track to leadership at your firm and in the civil defense community. 

  4. Access Cutting-Edge Information: Committee-specific e-newsletters, podcasts, programs, and more provide the latest legal information. 

  5. Get Informed Responses in Real-Time: Gain instant access to experts in your field willing to share insights. Have your questions answered in real-time by your peers via the SLC’s online communities/discussion boards.  

Surround yourself with a network of attorneys in your practice area who can help grow your business by joining a DRI Substantive Law Committee today! View DRI’s 29 Substantive Law Committees, select the committee you’re interested in, and press the “Join Committee” button on the right-hand side of the page to join one today! Repeat this process for all the committees you’re interested in and join as many committees as you’d like for free!  


Center Task Force Presents at Recent LA Bar Seminar


The Center’s Nonlawyer Ownership of Law Firms Task Force was invited to present at the Louisiana State Bar Association’s continuing legal education seminar in Quebec City, Canada, in February 2024. The Center was represented by task force chair Marta A. Schnabel of O’Bryon & Schnabel in New Orleans and task force member Susan Gunter of Dutton Brock LLP in Toronto. Their presentation, “Playing in the Sandbox: Non-Lawyer Investment in the Legal Economy,” highlighted the task force's recent whitepaper.

Gunter_Susan updated  Schnabel_Marta-Ann updated 

Gunter, Schnabel

Marta and Susan reported on the current state of affairs regarding nonlawyers providing legal services and on the steady increase (20 percent/year) in U.S. corporate expenditure on alternative legal service providers—$21 billion in 2021. In Arizona, where nonlawyer ownership of law firms is permitted with a license, as of March 19, 2024, already 78 companies have received licenses and are providing legal services to the public. Arizona is also the home of the new National Alternative Business Structure Law Firm Association, which holds annual conferences for its law firm members. Arizona has also approved licensed legal paraprofessionals. In Utah, where nonlawyer ownership of law firms is permitted to firms approved to participate in the legal regulatory sandbox, 51 businesses (out of 105 applicants) have been licensed to provide legal services to the public. This pilot project has been extended until 2027 and is now managed by the state bar association instead of the supreme court. The Utah sandbox closely monitors these businesses and as of the end of 2023 nearly 70,000 legal services were sought from these providers by 24,000 unduplicated customers; 81 percent of the legal services were provided by a lawyer or lawyer employee, and 19 percent were provided by non-lawyers. See Utah Office of Legal Services Innovation January 2024 Activity Report. In Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta there are similar legal regulatory sandboxes that have approved licenses for nonlawyer-owned business: eight in Ontario, five in Alberta, and forty-six in British Columbia (where legal technicians/paralegals require a sandbox license).

The data that will come from Utah and the Canadian legal regulatory sandboxes will permit analysis of the success of the relaxation of the nonlawyer ownership rules. This will hopefully allow policymakers to—in protection of the public—regulate the provision of legal services (which has expanded outside the practice of law), especially by internet-based, cross-jurisdictional legal companies. It will also allow for real consideration of whether the relaxation of the rules about who can practice law are justified by increased access to legal representation.

Stay tuned for more reports from the Center for Law and Public Policy on this exciting topic and how it affects DRI members and the practice of law.


Retaining the Right Expert for Your Trucking Case

In trucking litigation, the complexity of cases often requires a multidisciplinary approach to effectively determine liability. With various factors at play, ranging from digital evidence to human behavior, assembling the right team of experts with the requisite expertise to uncover crucial evidence in the case is paramount. This article explores the indispensable roles of an accident reconstruction expert, trucking & transportation safety expert, digital forensics expert, and human factors expert in trucking litigation.

Accident Reconstruction Expert

An Accident Reconstruction Expert employs scientific and engineering techniques to reconstruct a truck accident. Utilizing the physical evidence found at the scene of the crash, eyewitness accounts, and digital data pulled from modules in the truck, they establish factors such as vehicle speed, braking distances, and impact forces to recreate the accident and determine causation. An accident reconstructionist also utilizes computer simulations and 3D animations to visually recreate the accident to help judges and juries understand how the accident occurred.

Commercial Trucking / Transportation Safety Expert

Commercial Trucking Expert brings valuable industry-specific insight and experience to a case. Their expertise encompasses regulations, standards of care, and best practices involved in trucking operations. A trucking expert can opine on driver actions and standard of care issues that precede and occur during an incident. Amongst other things, the expert may investigate driver logs to determine whether the driver was following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for hours of service, opine on loading and unloading protocols, or requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials. Beyond the truck driver involved, a Transportation Safety Expert may investigate the trucking company the driver works for. The driver qualification file maintained by the trucking company is the foundation for a good defense. It shows the plaintiff's attorneys that the driver was qualified, authorized, permitted, and properly educated. The DQ file also eliminates the ability for plaintiff's expert to pick the case apart based on minor technicalities. With a properly vetted and trained driver, good hours of service compliance, and a proper bill of lading, a defense attorney can completely avoid the claim that a driver "shouldn't have been there" at the time of the collision and places liability back toward the other party.

Digital Forensics Expert 

A digital forensics expert specializes in retrieving, analyzing, and interpreting electronic data relevant to the case. In today’s digital world, there is an extensive amount of data that can be uncovered in trucking cases. Data from onboard telematics systems, Black Boxes, GPS devices, and Dashcams are analyzed and can be used to highlight speed, steering, seatbelts, brake application, videos of the accident, and more. Since being digitized, electronic logging devices have provided an additional source of data. These logs are investigated when hours of services issues or tampering is suspected. Cell phone forensics plays a pivotal role in trucking cases, as distracted driving involving these devices is often a contributing factor to accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2020 distracted driving report attributed cell phone usage while driving to 354 fatal crashes. This accounted for 12% of all distraction-affected fatal crashes. A digital forensics expert can determine cell phone usage, whether through call detail records, text and sms messages, or app usage.

Human Factors Expert

Human factors experts address many issues in transportation cases, including driver actions, visibility/conspicuity, looming, perception-reaction time, distracted driving, drowsy driving, driver assistance technologies, and positive guidance/expectancy, among others. Human factors experts offer a unique, scientific perspective on transportation-related issues that differs from that of trucking experts, accident reconstructionists, digital evidence experts, and engineers.  

A human factors approach can be particularly beneficial in cases where the standard of care, laws, regulations, or policies may be contrary to the science of human factors (e.g., distracted driving, drowsy driving), when other types of expert investigations yield unfavorable opinions, and when the jury is likely to have common misconceptions about a particular human factors issue (e.g., fatigue, distraction, looming, driver actions). Lastly, a human factors approach can simply provide additional scientific support when addressing important issues in a case (e.g., effectiveness of driver assist systems, expectancy, and positive guidance).

Navigating the complicated landscape of trucking litigation requires a comprehensive approach, with a variety of experts potentially being needed depending on the unique circumstances of the incident in question. For each case, it is worth considering how an Accident Reconstruction Expert, Commercial Trucking and Transportation Safety Expert, Digital Forensics Expert, or Human Factors Expert may be able to contribute their expertise. Through their unique knowledge, these experts can meticulously examine the evidence and circumstances present and opine on causation, industry standards, electronic data interpretation, and human behavior. From their collective efforts, a true understanding of the circumstances surrounding a trucking incident can be gained, helping lawyers, judges, and juries appropriately assign liability and ensure justice is served.

About Evidence Solutions, Inc.
Evidence Solutions, Inc., is a leading expert witness firm dedicated to providing unparalleled expertise and professional guidance in legal matters. With a highly qualified and experienced team, we offer comprehensive support to legal professionals, businesses, and individuals seeking reliable and credible insights for their cases.

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Why Wellness Should Be a Prescription for All Lawyers

By Brendan P. Hall

It is no secret that the legal profession can be a relatively stressful and complicated one. With cases to be won, deals to be closed, and clients to be assuaged, health consequences may follow if lawyers do not take precautions.

Since the dog days of the pandemic, I have chaired Harris Beach PLLC's Wellness Committee. I also now co-chair the DRI Young Lawyers Wellness Subcommittee. That experience, combined with practicing as a litigation attorney in New York City, has taught me some important lessons on how to manage stress to reap rewards, better performance, and dare I say, happiness! Without further ado, the following is my case for why wellness should be a prescription for all lawyers and even beyond the legal profession.

Statistics: A relatively dim picture.

Statistics about faltering lawyer health are abundant, particularly from the American Bar Association:

• About 67 percent of female and 49 percent of male survey respondents reported moderate or severe stress (ABA); 
• 71 percent of lawyers suffer from anxiety and about 38 percent suffer from depression (law.com);
• Lawyers who reported high stress levels were 22 times more likely to experience thoughts of suicide than lawyers with low stress (Healthcare).

The list could continue. Suffice it to say that the numbers are staggering. They are generally well-known, although rarely talked about—brushed under the rug, even.

And they are more than just statistics. The underlying stress and health complications are a key reason you may have dealt with irritable, irrational, and hostile lawyers. Or worse.

Solutions: They exist!

All is not lost. Notice that, fortunately, a majority of lawyers do not struggle with depression. Healthy and affable lawyers do exist.

Despite the pervasive issues, solutions are attainable. Better yet, almost all are free. This list is by no means exhaustive. Wellness is multi-faceted. Thus, this list is a starting point to help alleviate stress and foster a healthier profession.

1. Effective law practice management

At risk of stating the obvious, every lawyer should first ensure that they are not stretched too thin. All of the exercise and meditation in the world cannot fix issues like unbearable workloads and domineering clients and colleagues. So, at the outset, swim upstream to solve problems before they become exacerbated. For example, say "no." Set boundaries. Delegate. Maintain an efficient calendar. Of course, this is easier said than done in a capitalistic society and ambitious profession that strives to be a meritocracy, but it is worth raising and addressing. Less can actually be more!

2. Exercise

With that said, a practicing lawyer will inevitably face challenges. A case may go to trial. A deal may need to close imminently. A potential client might want to see a pitch deck that does not yet exist. When those situations arise, take it from longevity expert Dr. Peter Attia: "Exercise is the single biggest elixir for brain health." Or take it from life coach Tony Robbins: "Emotion is created by motion." 

The benefits are seemingly-endless, even in small doses of exercise, particularly for reducing stress and boosting memory and thinking skills. In terms of time, 150 minutes per week, assuming proper output, is a reasonable goal. Perhaps a memorable lawyer and former First Lady put it best: "Let's move!" 

3. Meditation

A good lawyer should have strong analytical skills and sharp attention to detail. With that in mind, consider incorporating an enjoyable practice that can enhance memory and attention. Meditation also reduces stress, improves sleep, and more. Unsure where to get started? Calm is well-regarded. My personal favorite is Peloton, particularly with Aditi Shah. Also, YouTube! As with exercise, meditation is something that can create benefits in mere minutes. Namaste.

4. Forest bathing

Yes, that's right! Called shinrin-yoku in Japanese, getting out in nature has significant health benefits. Covered by Time, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and more, if you are looking to reduce stress, improve your mood, increase your creativity, sleep better, and increase your energy levels, then take a stroll in your local park. Or consider upping the ante with a state or national park. The effects are so wonderful that Canadian doctors are actually prescribing national parks passes (hello, Banff!). Regardless, surround yourself in nature, wherever it may be, and reap the rewards.

5. Sharpen the saw 

While all of the above naturally help us to recharge and live better, actual time away from work can help us reset and be more productive (gasp!). Abraham Lincoln may or may not have said: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." 

Let's eradicate notions of not recharging and boasting about professional feats of endurance. To be clear, I advocate for working hard and effectively, exceeding expectations, and serving dutifully. But in the name of enhanced productivity, it should not only be advisable, but mandatory and quantifiable, to take time to disconnect and recharge. Perhaps even consider a digital detox. As a memorable high school philosopher once said: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Bottom line: Wellness should be a prescription for all lawyers.

Overall, if every lawyer implements these practices, the profession can become healthier, happier, and more efficient. The disorganized and ineffective behavior by some may be alleviated and reduced; possibly eradicated altogether in individual cases. That is why wellness should be a prescription for all.

Picture1 updated

Brendan P. Hall is an Associate Attorney at Harris Beach PLLC in New York City. As a litigator, Brendan focuses his practice on resolving tort and commercial disputes. He is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, the United States District Court’s Southern and Eastern Districts, and the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. He received his J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law. Outside of the law, Brendan enjoys playing basketball, golfing, fitness, traveling, reading, and spending time with his family and friends.


Center Experts Present at ICCI

During DRI’s recent Insurance Coverage and Claims institute, held March 13–15 in Chicago, members of the Center lent their expertise to two featured presentations. To lead off Thursday morning, Michael Goodin, AVP - Claims Judicial and Legislative Affairs at Zurich North America and a member of the Center’s Third-Party Litigation Task Force, participated in a panel discussion titled “The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly: Third Parties in Civil Litigation.” The session examined several ways third parties may become involved in civil litigation—from acquirers, to public adjusters, to litigation funders—and discussed whether and how those third parties’ involvement might affect the course of litigation and what can be done to ensure fairness to all litigants.  Wrapping up the seminar on Friday was Laura Clark Fey of Fey LLC, who presented on “Byte-Sized Ethics: Ethics Scenarios Highlighting the Importance of Choosing and Using ‘Just Right’ Legal AI Tools.” Attendees left the session armed with the key considerations and best practices to help them better understand how to think about advancements in generative artificial intelligence and the urgency surrounding responsible usage of and becoming literate in emerging technologies. Laura is a member of the Center’s AI Working Group and chair of the Center’s Data Privacy and Protection Working Group.

Fey_Laura  Goodin_Michael

Fey, Goodin

Free Member Webinar – The Pushback

Join the Center on April 18 at 11 a.m. CDT for the next installment of the DRI Free Webinar Series, “Inflated Settlements and Verdicts - The Pushback.” As settlement demands and some verdicts rise, trial counsel can strategically push back on plaintiff tactics inside and outside of the courtroom.

Learn from client representatives about how companies and trial counsel can better coordinate in combating the rise in litigation costs.

Best of all, this webinar is FREE for all DRI members! Register here!

New Appointments

The Center continues to grow!  Newly appointed to the Center’s State Legislation and Rules Task Force is Brandon Wright, a partner of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP in Reno, Nevada.  Also joining the Center’s ranks is Siobhan Briley of Pugh Hagan Prahm PLC, who is now a member of the Center’s Third-Party Litigation Funding Task Force.

Welcome, Brandon and Siobhan!

Wright_Brandon  Briley_Siobhan



Dividends Program Update

Effective June 30, 2024, the DRI Dividends Member Rewards Program will end. 

Any DRI Dividend points you’ve accumulated must be redeemed by June 30, 2024. 

There are many ways to earn DRI Dividend points! Here’s how - attend a meeting, recruit a member, write an article, be a speaker, join a Substantive Law Committee and more! Please view DRI Dividends - How to Earn Points for more details

Here’s what you can redeem your DRI Dividend points on: 

  • 1,500 Points: $250 Advocate Certificate 

  • 2,500-3,499 Points: NEW - Complimentary new individual membership for a colleague or $500 Advocate Certificate, and a DRI Recognition silver finish pin 

  • 3,500–4,999 Points: $500 Advocate Certificate, DRI Recognition gold finish recognition pin, Recognition in The Voice, FTD 

  • 5,000–9,999 Points: Complimentary seminar registration, Blue Sapphire (faux) recognition pin, Mention in FTD, The Voice and at events 

  • 10,000 Points: Complimentary registration to a DRI seminar of your choice, Mention in The Voice, FTD and at events, and Blue Diamond (faux) recognition pin 

Log onto your DRI member account and check your balance today. 

DRI remains committed to recognizing and rewarding member engagement and loyalty. Look for more details on a new DRI member rewards program.

Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog

DRI Content Referenced on Today's Managing Partner 

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Litigation can be a grueling and emotionally taxing endeavor for lawyers, often demanding an exceptional level of mental resilience. 
An article published in Today’s Managing Partner highlighted a recent post from Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog on practical strategies to build and sustain mental resilience during demanding litigation periods. 

Interested in having your own thought leadership published through DRI? Check out publication opportunities at DRI.

DRI Communities

Something New is Coming to the DRI Communities! 


Later this spring, DRI will be enhancing your DRI Communities experience. The opportunity to connect with peers and thought leaders in your practice area will expand in meaningful ways.

“Building connections is an incredibly valuable benefit of being a DRI member. The DRI communities are one of the best places connect with the civil defense community, and I’m looking forward to the refreshed platform,” DRI President Patrick J. Sweeney said.


Young Lawyers Webinar Bundle - earn CLE and save 25%!

Join us for a new live webinar series designed to refine your litigation skills and boost your career! Our new webinar series, A Young Lawyer's Guide To Handling A Case, From Evaluation to Arbitration, contains three hands-on webinars that will equip you with the tools, skills, and strategies necessary to build and present a successful case.

The next webinar in the series will be taking place on June 27th. Be sure to register by then and save 25% when you purchase the bundle of three!

Plus, earn CLE credit from each program! Webinars include:

  • A Young Lawyer's Guide to Considering Whether to Remove a Case to Federal Court
  • A Young Lawyer's Guide to Preparing Corporate Witnesses and Telling a “Company Story”
  • A Young Lawyer's Guide to Arbitration

These programs are hands-on in order to guide you through practical skill-building exercises, so seats are limited to 30 per webinar. Don't delay - learn more about the bundle and register today!


April is National Volunteer Month! 


Did you know April is National Volunteer Month? 
To all our dedicated civil defense attorneys and in-house counsel at DRI, we celebrate YOU this month for your incredible commitment to service and making a difference in our communities. Thank you for your invaluable contributions and for embodying the spirit of giving back. 
Together, we're making a positive impact that resonates far and wide. 

Looking for more ways to give back? Get involved with the DRI Foundation.


Young Lawyers Sworn Into US Supreme Court Bar

DRI would like to congratulate a group of our members who were sworn into the US Supreme Court bar during March. Congratulations to the following individuals, and thank you to movant John Parker Sweeney of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

Corey A. Bauer

Houston Harbaugh PC

Amber Eklof

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP

Philip Elmore

Quattlebaum Grooms & Tull PLLC

Jami Lacour Ishee

Davidson Meaux Sonnier & McElligott LLP

Benjamin Johnson

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Mary H. Kim

Dechert LLP

Casey Miller

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Robert Ernest Noble, III

Chartwell Law

Valerie Phan


Katherine Tapp

Wicker Brammell PLLC

Alexander Tibor

Meagher & Geer PLLP

Meghan Wynkoop

Margolis Edelstein


John Parker Sweeney

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP


Read Our Newest Blog Post — Managing Work-Life Balance: Insights from Top Lawyers

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Finding equilibrium between professional responsibilities and personal well-being can often feel like walking a tightrope.  
The demands of court deadlines, client expectations, and corporate obligations can quickly blur the lines between work and life. However, achieving a healthy work-life balance is not only essential for individual well-being but crucial for sustaining long-term success in the legal profession. 
Read the newest post from Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog for practical tips to help manage your workload while nurturing a fulfilling personal life.
Looking for additional resources to support your well-being? Visit the DRI for Life website for programming and resources designed to help you manage your stress in healthy and productive ways.


SLC Corner | Employment and Labor Law Committee

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Employee and Labor

Employment and Labor Law Committee
Gordon Hill, Committee Chair

DRI's Employment and Labor Law Committee is a vibrant, active committee that provides education, shared expertise, professional development and networking in this ever-changing area of the law. Big issues in our practice area continue to be changes at the federal regulatory level. For example, we are awaiting the  Federal Trade Commission’s proposed regulations that would ban nearly all non-compete agreements and the Department of Labor’s overtime regulations, and the National Labor Relations Board continues to be active in adopting rules governing both unionized and non-unionized workforces.

With all of these developments, our committee members are proactive in sharing with each other best practices for clients. Our committee members are active in the DRI Community, and both formally and informally share ideas and information with each other that is invaluable.

The Employment and Labor Law Seminar is May 20-22 in Washington, DC.  We have several marquee speakers including a fireside chat with EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling, Wage & Hour Law update from Ellen Kearns (Editor-in-Chief of the most popular treatise on the Fair Labor Standards Act), a judicial panel, and in-house counsel from major corporations just to name a few.  We are also excited about the many networking opportunities, and we always look forward to our Year in Review session highlighting recent court decisions that benefit our practices and literally help us win lawsuits.

In addition to our seminar, our committee has been active in producing online content for DRI. In January, we had a webinar on the use of Artificial Intelligence in the employment arena and are currently working with other committees to present joint online programming to reach a broader audience for programming later this year.

Our members support each other, refer business to each other, and generally truly enjoy each other’s company. Join us! 

Want to get involved?

  • Join the Employment and Labor Law Committee. The ELL online community is an active and vibrant group that provides you with an outstanding resource.

  • Register for the Employment and Labor Law Seminar in Washington, DC. There are great opportunities to meet new people and get involved with the committee.

  • Ready to get involved? Reach out to Committee Chair Gordon Hill at gordon.hill@hwhlaw.com or Vice Chair Helen Holden at hholden@spencerfane.com for more information.


DRI Members Share Their Victories


The jury deliberated for less than one hour. In closing arguments, Plaintiff suggested the jury should award in excess of $30 million dollars in damages. Punitive damages were also sought and went to the jury. Trial attorney, Paul J. Sheston tried the case for the defense, with the assistance of SLG Legal Nurse Consultant, Kelly Pullaro, RN.


Keep The Defense Wins Coming!

Please send 250–500-word summaries of your “wins,” including the case name, your firm name, your firm position, city of practice, and email address, in Word format, along with a recent color photo as an attachment (.jpg or .tiff), highest resolution file possible, to DefenseWins@dri.org. Please note that DRI membership is a prerequisite to be listed in “And the Defense Wins,” and it may take several weeks for The Voice to publish your win.


Congratulations to DRI Members for Their Achievements

Diana Katz Gerstel has joined Tucker Ellis LLP as a Partner located in Morristown, NJ. She defends pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in both state and federal courts in her trial work. Diana has been a DRI member since 2012.

Paul F. Gordon has joined Fisher Patterson Sayler & Smith as a Partner located in Overland Park, KS. He is an experienced civil trial attorney and handles matters related to governmental liability, construction defect, wrongful death, products liability, employment discrimination, breach of contract, trucking accidents, and premises liability. Paul has been a DRI member since 2006.

Alec Josepher has joined Segal McCambridge as an Associate located in Tampa, FL. His practice areas include insurance and reinsurance, premises liability, and professional liability. Alec has been a DRI member since 2023.

Marcus K. Pierre has joined Christovich & Kearney LLP as an Associate located in New Orleans, LA. His law practice includes the areas of general insurance defense, casualty, premises liability, and workers’ compensation. Marcus has been a DRI member since 2021.

Fred W. “Trey” Suggs III has received the annual Worth Adversary Award from the South Carolina Association for Justice. This association honors a defense attorney who displays exemplary professionalism and ethical behavior in their law practice. He received this award in August 2023. Trey rejoined DRI as a member in 2023.

Orla G. Thompson has returned to Cozen O’Connor as a Partner located in New York, NY. As a seasoned litigator, her practice areas include product liability, strategic risk and complex litigation, insurance coverage, and commercial litigation. Orla has been a DRI member since 2021 and serves as DRI’s New York State Representative.


DRI Members Meet in Chicago for Joint Regional Meeting

During March, DRI leaders met in Chicago for the Joint Regional Meeting with the Canadian, Central, and Southwest regions. The meeting was led by DRI Regional Directors Aleksandra Zivanovic (Canadian Regional Director); Matthew Nelson (Central Regional Director); Michael Carter (Southwest Regional Director), and Jill Cranston Rice, DRI’s Second Vice President. Regional Meeting Attendees spent time learning, networking, and hearing updates from DRI and The Center. The group also took time out to create positive notes that will be used as a part of a DRI Cares project supporting Blessings in a Backpack.

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DRI Congratulates ADLA on 60th Anniversary

In February of 2024, the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA) celebrated its 60th anniversary. DRI wishes ALDA continued success in their journey.


Young Lawyers Support Cardz for Kidz at Fly-In Meeting

During the Young Lawyers’ Committee Fly-In Meeting March 1-2 in Miami, the Young Lawyers DRI Cares Subcommittee organized a breakout session to benefit a philanthropic organization. Cardz for Kidz was chosen as the beneficiary due to its commitment to provide handmade uplifting cards and bookmarks for a variety of groups – including hospitalized children, seniors, and military veterans – and sends them to those who need some love and inspiration. The Young Lawyers Committee members put their craft skills to the test and handmade over a hundred inspirational and fun cards for those in need. The event was a huge success and provided a way for the Young Lawyers to get creative and philanthropic. 


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DRI Welcomes the Following Members and Advocates

New Members

Lawrence H. Cooke, II, New York, NY
Stephen B. Williamson, Asheville, NC
Kathryn D. Terry, Oklahoma City, OK
Lisa Toth Simpson, New York, NY
Michael Joseph Hurvitz, San Diego, CA
Peter N. Leritz, Saint Louis, MO
Jane C. Higgins, Lexington, KY
Brian  Gibbons, New York, NY
Thomas E. Hanson, Wilmington, PA
Jasmine McCormick, Saint Louis, MO
Colleen P. Reilly, Alexandria, VA
Todd Gregory Lezon, Los Angeles, CA
Jamie Victoria Harrmann, Chicago, IL
William Quinton Gurley, New Orleans, LA
Jahlee J. Hatchett, Philadelphia, PA
Chiamaka Sandra Enemuoh, Los Angeles, CA
Alex Gressett, Mobile, AL
Priyanka Parikh, Dallas, TX
Clayton Fielder, Overland Park, KS
Charles Kramer, Milwaukee, WI
Nick Papastratakos, Chicago, IL
Kendzior James, Chicago, IL
Jeanne Hamilton, Indianapolis, IN
Willliam F. O'Brien, Chicago, IL
David M. Layman, Charlotte, NC
Christopher Michael Helsel, Alexandria, VA
Siminya Massias, New York, NY
Madison Romine, Los Angeles, CA
Christopher Donovan, Houston, TX
Alayna Nicholes, Seattle, WA
Benjamin Stahl, Atlanta, GA
Brendan P. McGuire, Des Moines, IA
Benjamin J. Kenkel, Des Moines, IA
Gina Marie Arnedos, Carle Place, NY
Emilee Schipske, Washington, DC
Robert Greenlee, Chicago, IL
Michael Gerkin, Chicago, IL
Caroline Anne Hopkins, Wilsonville, OR
Gregorio Silva, Kansas City, MO
Paige Pavone, New York, NY
Christopher J. Kolber, Buffalo, NY
Teodora D. Purcell, San Diego, CA
Zack Turpin, Lexington, KY
Matthew David Strother, Lexington, KY
Serena Wilson-Griffin, Saint Louis, MO
Laura E. Kogan, Cleveland, OH
Renee Olivia Cho Harper, Missoula, MT
Hannah McCarthy, Cincinnati, OH
Jay Hamad, New York, NY
Laurie Loeschner, Saint Louis, MO
Samantha Gunnoe, Mobile, AL
Ed Barkel, Phoenix, AZ
Haylee J. Booth, Boston, MA
Joshua Golembe, Miami, FL
Jordan Rosenberg, Philadelphia, PA
Sarah J. Love, Carmel, IN
Molly McCann Weiss, Carmel, IN
Carolyn Schweizer, Philadelphia, PA
Caleb Meyer, Denver, CO
Jacob Kratt, Philadelphia, PA
Paulina Tran, Irvine, CA
Hillary Dang, Washington, DC
Bryce Anderson, Phoenix, AZ 


Caitlin Marie Barry, Chicago, IL
David J. Soldo, Wilmington, DE
Emily M. Ruzic, Birmingham, AL
Jennifer L. Swajkoski, Missoula, MT
Portia Kayser, Saint Louis, MO
Sean M. O'Brien, Des Moines, IA
Christopher P. Leritz, Saint Louis, MO
David L. Taylor, Indianapolis, IN
Glenn B. Coffin, Jr., Glastonbury, CT
Jodi V. Terranova, Washington, DC
Joshua J. Leckrone, Lexington, KY
Kelly Calder Mowen, Scott Depot, WV
Kristen E. Dennison, Merritt Island, FL
Laura Fayth Disney, Lexington, KY
Lisa M. Bellino, Philadelphia, PA
Mark R. Antonelli, Coral Gables, FL
Michael D. Carter, Oklahoma City, OK
Natasha Khachatourians, Seattle, WA
Patrick D. DeRouen, New Orleans, LA
Sara M. Turner, Birmingham, AL
William D. Kirkland, Frankfort, KY
Brianna Weis, Dallas, TX
Colleen O'Brien, Los Angeles, CA
Collin J. Hite, Glen Allen, VA
Dean Martinez, Chicago, IL
James P. O'Connor, New York, NY
Jean A. Dalmore, Los Angeles, CA
Michelle M. Fujimoto, Irvine, CA
Mohamed N. Bakry, Philadelphia, PA
Andrea Schillaci, Buffalo, NY
Dessi N. Day, San Diego, CA
Robert J. Cosgrove, Philadelphia, PA
Sara Schiavone, Columbus, OH


Upcoming Seminars and Webinars

$300 discount for June seminars ends April 29!

2024 Drug and Medical Device Seminar

May 20-22, 2024 | Washington, D.C.
Join us in Washington D.C. for the Drug and Medical Device industry’s premier event for learning, networking, and advancing the defense of life sciences clients! You’ll hear from heads of litigation from the world’s foremost drug and medical device companies and get the latest insight on jurors’ changing perceptions. Take advantage of new CLE opportunities and small group, off-site networking events, which provide more opportunities than ever to network with renowned industry experts while enjoying the best of the nation’s capital.

2024 Employment and Labor Law Seminar

May 20-22, 2024 | Washington, D.C.
Join us in our nation’s capital as we reconnect at DRI’s 47th annual Employment and Labor Law Seminar. The nation’s best employment law seminar brings together leading management-side employment and labor attorneys, in-house counsel, human resources professionals, and employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) representatives from throughout the US and Canada. Always intensely practical, and accompanied by helpful written materials, this seminar is indispensable for experienced practitioners and those just getting started in labor and employment law. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from some of the best practitioners and professionals in the labor and employment arena.

2024 DRI International Seminar

May 29-31, 2024 | Madrid, Spain
Join us for the next annual DRI International Seminar to reconnect with peers and make new connections in Madrid! The theme of this year's seminar is "Disruption." There have been several significant legal and regulatory developments which are impacting our global clients and disrupting business agendas. We expect more pressures in 2024, including the increasing risk of class actions and the rise of collective redress regimes across Europe; the maturing litigation funding market; the evolving regulation and liability frameworks around technology and artificial intelligence (AI); a growth in cybersecurity and data breach disputes; and the emergence of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disputes and the dominance of AI. We will be joined by lawyers, in-house counsel, and other members of the legal industry to discuss how the disruption is intensifying and how global businesses need to keep pace or risk falling behind. There will also be a number of excellent opportunities to reconnect and network with friends and colleagues from around the world in the beautiful city of Madrid.

2024 Diversity for Success Seminar

June 12-14, 2024 | Nashville, Tennessee
The DRI Diversity and Inclusion Committee invites you to the 19th annual Diversity for Success Seminar and Corporate Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. With the theme, "Fighting the Current of the Anti-Diversity Tide," this seminar is designed to address the recent legal decisions and lawsuits meant to stunt recent efforts to increase diversity in our educational and occupational settings. In addition to gaining insights from and networking with in-house counsel and potential referral sources, attendees will also find resources and tools to incorporate in their career and organization that will improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Register by April 29, 2024, to receive the early bird discounted rate. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

2024 Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar

June 12-14, 2024 | Nashville, Tennessee
DRI’s Insurance Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability Seminar is the preeminent program for insurance executives, claims professionals, and outside counsel who specialize in bad faith insurance litigation. When bad faith litigation ensues, these claims are some of the most complex and highest exposure claims faced by insurers. Our featured speakers consist of some of the nation’s leading in-house and outside bad faith lawyers, who will share their valuable insights and strategies on evaluating and winning bad faith cases as well as how to avoid them in the first place.

Register by April 29, 2024, to receive the early bird discounted rate. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

2024 Young Lawyers Seminar

June 12-14, 2024 | Nashville, Tennessee
Join us in Nashville for DRI’s Young Lawyers Seminar! If you are an attorney within your tenth year of practice, this seminar is designed for you. Gain expert insight into how the practice of law is, first and foremost, a business. You will discover that to grow your law practice, you need to hone your legal skills, and learn what it takes to run a successful business - from building and nurturing client relationships, to staying on top of current trends and developments and using technology to your advantage. In addition to exciting programming, there will be ample networking opportunities with attorneys and in-house counsel from across the country!

Register by April 29, 2024, to receive the early bird discounted rate. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

2024 Boot Camp for New Life, Health, and Disability Lawyers

July 24–25, 2024 | Chicago, Illinois
The DRI Life, Health, and Disability Committee is once again sponsoring a program aimed at providing a basic understanding of the concepts applicable to life, health, and disability litigation. The program, which receives rave reviews each year it is held, will be taught by highly experienced attorneys who collectively have decades of experience litigating life, health, disability, and ERISA disputes throughout the United States. Even though the content is geared to lawyers who are new to the practice, lawyers of any age who wish to brush up on their skills are also encouraged to attend! Young lawyers in particular who want to meet colleagues practicing throughout the country will find this to be an excellent marketing opportunity.

Inflated Settlements and Verdicts - The Pushback

April 18, 2024
As settlement demands and some verdicts rise, trial counsel can strategically push back on plaintiff tactics inside and outside of the courtroom.  Learn from client representatives about how companies and trial counsel can better coordinate in combating the rise in litigation costs.

The registration is free for DRI members only.

NEW! Exclusive DRI Member Benefit: Free Webinar Registration

DRI is excited to provide members with FREE access to several valuable webinars like this one! Earn up to 8 hours of CLE credit this year at no additional cost to you–that's a savings of $1,350 for being a DRI member! From conspiracyism to succession planning, we are covering a host of hot topics this year to help you expand your knowledge and build your legal practice. Learn more here!

Fatigue and Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry

April 24, 2024 | Sponsored by Evidence Solutions Inc.
ESI’s human factors and trucking experts will discuss fatigue and drowsy driving in the trucking industry. Trucking topics include hours of service regulations (HOS) and trucking company responsibilities for preventing fatigue. Human factors topics include the science of fatigue and sleep deprivation, HOS violations vs. the science of fatigue, and human factors methods for investigating fatigue-related collisions. The experts will use defense case examples throughout the presentation to demonstrate the relevance of both trucking and human factors expertise in drowsy trucking cases.

This webinar is free for DRI members and non-members.

A Young Lawyer's Guide to Considering Whether to Remove a Case to Federal Court

June 27 | 11 a.m. CDT
This program will provide attendees with a step-by-step guide for removing a case from a state court to a federal district court. Attendees will be provided with a mock case for consideration, along with a checklist that covers the situations that make a case removable, the relevant deadlines impacting removal, and the steps that must be completed to effectively remove a case to federal court. After the lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the “how, why, and when” of removing a case to federal court in small groups.

Registration is $75 for DRI members and $100 for non-members.

Save 25% when you purchase the "A Young Lawyers Guide to Handling A Case" series. Learn more.

A Young Lawyer's Guide to Preparing Corporate Witnesses and Telling a “Company Story”

September 25 | 11 a.m. CDT
This program will provide attendees with all prior case materials, along with some specifics on a corporate witness to “prepare” for testimony. After the lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss corporate witness preparation in small breakout groups.

Registration is $75 for DRI members and $100 for non-members.

Save 25% when you purchase the "A Young Lawyers Guide to Handling A Case" series. Learn more.

A Young Lawyer's Guide to Arbitration

November 20 | 11 a.m. CDT
This program will provide attendees with the prior case materials, along with select rules from CPR, AAA and other arbitration processes.  The program will provide discussion what makes arbitration different from trial, and how young lawyers in particular can have an expanded role in Arbitration (per the rules, themselves). After the lecture, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss what it’s like taking an arbitration from start to finish and ask questions of fellow young lawyers who have done so.

Registration is $75 for DRI members and $100 for non-members.

Save 25% when you purchase the "A Young Lawyers Guide to Handling A Case" series. Learn more.


"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." —Winston Churchill