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Black History Month Spotlight

Celebrating Black Americans and the Arts

By Sheryl J. Willert

Have you ever made an effort to learn about the origin of Black History Month and its impact on the nation?  Black History Month was the outgrowth of a movement started by historian Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves who, though largely self-taught, was the second Black American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University.  After receiving his Ph.D. in 1912, Dr. Woodson went on to become the Dean of the Howard University College of Arts and Sciences (an HBCU - Historically Black College or University).  Dr. Woodson believed that it was important to educate Americans about the contributions of, and to celebrate the achievements of, Black Americans in the United States. True to his passion, Dr. Woodson launched the Journal of Negro History in 1916. He subsequently launched Negro History week in the second week of February 1926.

The theme for Black History Month 2024 is “Black Americans and the Arts.” It is very easy to conjure up the names of many Black Americans who have made substantial contributions to the Arts and have, in many ways, shaped all of American culture. You may be familiar with the names and works of musicians like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Grandpa Elliott, Mamie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. You may recognize the works of painters like Jacob Lawrence whose works were displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of art as early as the 1940’s. You may admire the work of Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, and in particular, her sculpture “In Memory of Mary Turner as a Silent Protest Against Mob Violence” which commemorates the killing of a pregnant black woman who protested the murder of her husband. And you may enjoy dancing to the moves and the hip-hop beats created by artists like JJ Kool and Coke La Rock. 

In the decades leading up to the national recognition of Black History Month in 1976, there was significant activity which was intended to provide an opportunity for African Americans to experience the American Dream in the same manner as their Caucasian counterparts. What did Black Americans want? They wanted the opportunity to obtain a college education, a good job, the ability to buy a home, to raise a family without the significant struggles which were often experienced by people of color, to walk down the street without the fear of lynching, and to cast a ballot without the fear of intimidation by groups such as the KKK. The activities that helped to change the experience of Black Americans included demonstrations in the streets of some of America’s largest cities; protests on college campuses around the nation, and sit-ins at the counters of businesses, which evolved from the Civil Rights Movement, a movement most closely identified with Martin Luther King, Jr. These acts and the Civil Rights Movement had a tangible impact. 

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11246, which was intended as an affirmative step to provide equal opportunity for all, without regard to race for contracting opportunities, and by extension, jobs, underwritten by the federal government. Only a few short years after the issuance of that Executive Order, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act established laws that prohibited discrimination based on race and gender. In turn, this law formed the basis of the Bakke decision which proclaimed that race could be a factor for admissions to colleges, both public and private. Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U. S. 265 (1978). The Bakke Court recognized the importance of diversity in education. In other words, the Bakke Court recognized that the United States is not monolithic but is instead multifaceted. The Bakke Court recognized that the United States is not monocultural but is instead multicultural and the multiculturalism of this nation is what has made it strong.

It is, therefore, ironic that in 2023, 62 years after the issuance of Executive Order 11246 and 59 years after the adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a shorter period than the expected life of an American citizen, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ability of colleges to use race as a factor in admissions to college despite the fact that the percentage of Black Americans going to and graduating from college significantly increased after the Bakke decision. Cross and Slater: “Only the Onset of Affirmative Action Explains the Explosive Growth in Blacks Enrollment in Higher Education, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education No. 23 (Spring, 1999). True leaders would celebrate the fact that education had become available to a larger group of citizens of the United States, regardless of their color. True leaders would also delve further into how much change has occurred and recognize that the percentage of Black Americans attending and graduating from college has continued to be significantly lower than the percentages of their white counterparts which studies have shown is the result of the continuation of differences in access and opportunity. Richard Wolf: Racial Divide Persists in Areas; John Marcus: The Hechinger Report.

Black History Month 2024 arrives in the midst of a heated political battle over who will be the leaders this nation on inauguration day, January 20, 2025. As I listen to the pitches being made by candidates all around the nation, it occurs to me that there has been much change since the inception of Black History Month at Kent State University in 1970 and the national recognition of Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Some may nod their heads and agree that a lot has changed. Others may reflect on this proposition and question whether the change experienced by Black Americans has resulted in the positive development and impact that was hoped for and intended, not just in the decision to celebrate Black History Month, but also in some of the changes put into place in the time prior to the recognition of Black History Month. Some may go so far as to ask whether there has truly been a recognition and realization of the contributions made by Black Americans to the success, stability and continued progress of these United States. 

It is not just the retraction of opportunity for ethnic minorities in the college setting that begs the question of how much has really changed, it is also the words and actions of members of state and local leaders who have attacked the teaching of the truth about the fact and role of slavery in this nation’s past, not because it is false, but because slavery and its consequence are an uncomfortable truth. And sadly, this change of attitude has made it acceptable to return to a place in our history where the rhetoric of racism is apparently, once again, openly acceptable in the daily activities and communications of everyday Americans.  

Despite this turn of events, the contributions of Black Americans cannot be erased, and the dignity of Black Americans cannot be stolen. Although not famous, everyday Black Americans are artists within their own right. The have experienced the lack of respect, the lack of inclusion, and, in many cases, the anger of those who forget that much of this nation was actually built on the backs of Black Americans. Black Americans have refined the art of perseverance in the face of adversity, the art of caring for those in need even though those in need may treat them with disdain. They have mastered the art of optimism even in the face of resistance to their very existence. 

Commencing on February 1, 2024, it is my plan to celebrate, not only the artists who make us clap our hands to the beat of the music; that makes us tap our foot in rhythm (“I’m so Excited," the Pointer Sisters); to stand in awe of the ability of the unknown photographer to capture the essence of Isabella Baumfree (aka Sojourner Truth); to wish that we could have written the words about love that make us stop, reflect and brings us to tears: “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” (Maya Angelou); to ask the question why we are thankful that with perseverance and patience the truth rises to light when we watch the movie, “When They See Us,” directed by Ava DuVernay; to be moved by the iambic pentameter in the words of Martin Luther King (“Free at Last, Free at Last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”); and to scream at the top of our lungs at the perfected art of making free throws (e.g. Karl Malone) but most of all, simply to celebrate the fact of and the art of being a Black American. 

Join me if you will. 

Sheryl WillertSheryl J. Willert is a Member at Williams Kastner. She serves the firm on its Board of Directors and chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group as well as the Diversity Committee. She is a past president of DRI. 


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Black History Month Spotlight

Honoring Black Excellence Within DRI: Stacy L. Douglas

By Ebony S. Morris

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the contributions of our ancestors and Black Americans who have contributed significantly to our country. We often celebrate famous politicians, celebrities, and historical figures during this month; however, we sometimes overlook those who are within reach and who are contributing to our lives every day. Within DRI, we have several influential Black attorneys who are single-handedly paving the way and inspiring future leaders. This article will focus on my mentor and DRI Big Sister, Stacy L. Douglas.

Stacy L. Douglas is a Partner and Director of Diversity and Inclusion with Everett Dorey LLP. Stacy has extensive experience in representing homeowner’s associations, individuals, automobile dealerships and public entities in personal injury, product liability, employment, toxic tort, trucking/transportation, and real property disputes. Stacy has successfully tried cases to favorable verdicts for her clients. She is also skilled at disposing of cases via artfully crafted motions, such as motions for summary judgment, motions for judgment on the pleadings as well as demurrers and motions to strike.

In addition to her practice, Stacy is a champion of diversity within the legal profession and within our organization. Stacy currently serves as a National Director within DRI and formerly the Chair of the DRI Diversity and Inclusion Committee (“D&I Committee”). Stacy makes it a point to promote diverse and underrepresented attorneys within her firm and within DRI as well as educate clients and organizations about the impact of diversity. Her passion for diversity within DRI inspired her, as well as others in the D&I Committee, to spearhead the D&I Committee’s Diverse Rainmaker Pipeline Program (“Rainmaker Pipeline Program”), an initiative designed to help diverse and underrepresented attorneys develop relationships with prospective clients. I am proud to say that I am an alumna of the Rainmaker Pipeline Program. 

Stacy was matched as my formal mentor for the Rainmaker Pipeline Program; however, I considered her a mentor and Big Sister well before participating as one of the mentees. I originally joined DRI in 2016 and became involved within the D&I Committee shortly thereafter. Although I was new to the D&I Committee, Stacy, in addition to others on the D&I Committee, made it a point to welcome me with open arms. As a member, I had the opportunity to watch true leaders not just within the D&I Committee but within the organization. As I became more involved within the D&I Committee, I observed how passionate, innovative, and forward-thinking Stacy was as one of our leaders. Unbeknownst to her, she became my mentor well before my involvement in the Rainmaker Pipeline Program. For me, Stacy has been a sounding board, support system, and cheerleader for my progress within DRI and my progress as a practicing attorney. Stacy is one of many of our Black DRI leaders who has made a significant impact on my career, and she is the epitome of Black Excellence and Black History. I am blessed to call her my mentor and Big Sister, and it is indeed a privilege to honor her for Black History Month. 

Ebony Morris

Ebony S. Morris is an attorney in Foley Mansfield’s New Orleans office. She regularly handles general liability defense, workers compensation, mass tort and product liability, premises liability, and first-party property damage matters. Ebony is an active member of DRI and serves as the 2023-2024 Chair of DRI’s Women of Color Subcommittee and Vice Chair of DRI’s 2024 Diversity for Success Seminar.

From the DRI Foundation

Attorneys and Community Impact During Black History Month:  How Can I Do My Part?

By Catherine Ava Leatherwood

As lawyers representing business, our focus is often on navigating the complexities of various legal matters.  However, as we celebrate Black History Month, it's crucial to recognize the profound impact that the legal and business community can have in fostering positive change.  As advocates and leaders, our expertise positions us to contribute meaningfully to the pursuit of equity and equality within our communities. This annual observance provides an opportunity not only to honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans throughout history but also to consider how we, as legal professionals, can actively participate in addressing disparities within the community and creating a more equitable environment. 

Part of the DRI Foundation’s commitment is to give back to DRI members and their communities, and proceeds raised by the DRI Foundation go directly toward funding and fostering initiatives that make a difference, including diversity programs. 

Black History Month, celebrated every February, is a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements, contributions, and history of African Americans. It originated from the efforts of historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent individuals who sought to ensure that the often-overlooked history of Black Americans became an integral part of the nation's historical narrative. This month is a reminder that Black history is American history, and it provides an opportunity to promote understanding, appreciation, and unity.

Serving the Community

As civil defense attorneys, our commitment to justice extends beyond the courtroom. Black History Month serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by the Black community, both historically and in the present day. Many of us want to be better allies but may not know where to start or whether our small part will make an impact.  From elementary to high school, we observed Black History Month every February.  We learned about and celebrated Black leaders and their accomplishments and read poignant and societally significant books by Black authors.  What we didn’t learn was the extent of the racial disparities that still exist in our society to this day.  We didn’t learn what we, as individual people, could do to make a difference moving forward.  We didn’t learn what to do to be allies in the ongoing effort to support Black communities.  Whether you want to be a better ally or are part of the Black community, there are several ways we as lawyers and leaders can actively contribute to serving the community not just during this month, but beyond.

Pro Bono Legal Services

Offer or participate in pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations working towards racial justice and equality in your community. Many community organizations are in need of legal expertise, and your skills can make a significant impact on issues such as justice reform, housing and tenant rights, immigration issues, voting rights, education equity, and civil rights. By offering pro bono services in these areas, legal professionals can play a pivotal role in addressing systemic inequities and fostering positive change within the Black community. For those of us who want to be better allies, it is important to work collaboratively with community organizations and individuals to ensure that legal support is effectively tailored to the specific needs and challenges faced by the community.

Community Education 

Participate in educational workshops that inform the community about their rights, legal processes, and avenues for seeking justice. Empowering individuals with knowledge is a crucial step in promoting justice and equality. Wellness resources are also disparate in many communities. Mental health awareness, access to healthcare, and combating healthcare disparities are crucial aspects of wellness that need attention. Systemic inequities often result in limited access to quality mental health resources and healthcare services for many in the Black community. Participating in wellness initiatives tailored for the Black community is an opportunity to address specific issues that are vital to well-being. By actively engaging in wellness initiatives, attorneys can support dismantling these disparities, promoting mental health awareness, and advocating for policies that ensure equitable access to healthcare. Each of us can play a small role in fostering healthier communities. DRI for Life has many excellent publications that serve as resources beyond concerns faced by the legal profession and apply to many aspects of wellness that are often overlooked or stigmatized in our communities.

Mentorship Programs

Establish or participate in mentorship programs that support aspiring Black legal professionals. Mentorship can provide guidance, encouragement, and valuable insights to those navigating the legal profession, promoting diversity and inclusion within our field.  The DRI Foundation offers a Law Student Diversity Scholarship Program to increase diversity in the legal profession in a constructive and tangible way. DRI awards three law student scholarships annually – one for $10,000 and two for $5,000. The goal of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to three worthy law students from ABA accredited law schools to promote the DRI Diversity Statement in Principle.  We encourage you to please share this opportunity with diverse, rising young lawyers in your community.  You can find out more about the scholarship and do your part to donate to this important and meaningful program here.

Helping to Provide Critical Resources

Many charitable organizations are doing their best to work toward filling the resource disparity gap in different ways, including supporting the basic needs of people living in underserved communities. Take the time to learn about your state and local organizations, either by speaking to people in your local community or using a website like Charity Navigator and find a nonprofit that aligns with the goals of providing resources and assistance to empower Black communities.  Contributing your time to these organizations helps their efforts to address and diminish the economic and societal gaps that unfortunately exist, and continue to exist, in communities all across the country and world. 

Most of you have taken the time to participate in DRI Cares projects at seminars over the past several months but may not realize the full impact of your time and effort. DRI is proud to continue its partnership with Blessings in a Backpack, an organization focused on a mission to make sure that every school-aged child in America has the nourishment needed to learn and grow.  I had the opportunity to hear Christin Kruse, the Chief Development Officer of Blessings in a Backpack, speak at the DRI Annual Meeting in San Antonio last year about the organization and their mission.  What I learned about the work and the impact of this program was powerful.

As a leader in the movement to end childhood hunger, Blessings in a Backpack strives to ensure children do not go hungry on the weekends by providing more than just food, but a chance to thrive and grow by making sure they have the proper nourishment.  According to the organization’s website, a study showed that 100% of counties in the U.S. have food insecurity. Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, 2022. Furthermore, 16% of Black households face hunger, compared to 13% of Latino households and 6% of white households.  Contributing your time and resources to Blessings in a Backpack projects at DRI Seminars is an essential part of the organization’s mission to address some of these disparities and make sure that all children in our communities feel cared for and better prepared to learn and grow.  Learn more about Blessings in a Backpack and how you can help here

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Strengthen your ties with the community by actively supporting Black-owned businesses. Building strong relationships with local entrepreneurs fosters economic empowerment and contributes to the overall well-being of the community.  By actively engaging with and supporting Black-owned businesses, you contribute to the vitality of the local economy, create sustainable job opportunities, and play a part in the long-term effort to dismantle systemic economic disparities. This engagement goes beyond financial support and economic transactions; it establishes a foundation for collaboration, understanding, and ultimately contributing to a more resilient and inclusive community fabric. Economic growth and community well-being go hand in hand, and your support and endorsement of Black-owned businesses helps foster both. 

As attorneys and as members of our communities, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to actively engage in the pursuit of equity in those communities, and within the legal profession as a whole.  Black History Month is not only a time to celebrate the achievements of the past but also a call to action for the present and future. By advocating for diversity in the profession, finding ways to actively better our communities, providing legal expertise, and advocating for positive change, we can each do our part to contribute to a more just and equitable society. With a DRI community of over 16,000 professionals, consider the impact one such act of service by each person could have. Let us use this month as a catalyst for ongoing efforts to uplift and support the Black community in our shared pursuit of equity and justice.  

Catherine Ava LeatherwoodCatherine Ava Leatherwood is a member at Rogers Townsend, LLC, where she focuses her practice in the areas of civil litigation, namely products liability, construction defect litigation, and general insurance defense. She serves on DRI's Board of Directors as a National Director and is the DRI Cares vice chair. 

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Annual Meeting Spotlight

Top 5 Things to Do in Seattle During DRI’s Annual Meeting 

DRI AM 2024 STD-01

Mark your calendars for DRI’s 2024 Annual Meeting! This year’s event will be held on October 16-18 in beautiful Seattle, Washington. 

Looking for fun and exciting things to do during your visit? Seattle has something to offer for every interest.  

Check out our top 5 things to do in Seattle this fall:

1. Visit the Iconic Pike Place Market

Considered “the soul of Seattle,” this Seattle icon is located in the center of downtown and is one of the oldest and largest continuously operating public markets in the United States. 

2. Observe the City from the Space Needle
An iconic landmark and observation tower, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. See the city from above through floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor deck, and an indoor lounge featuring the world’s first rotating glass floor.

3. Explore Chihuly Garden and Glass
Located at the base of the Space Needle, this must-see museum features the creative and colorful blown glass sculptures of artist Dale Chihuly. Don’t miss the highlight of the museum, a 100-foot-long glass sculpture suspended in a glass conservatory.

4. Get Your Steps in with Seattle Hiking

Looking to get in a bit of exercise during Annual Meeting? Seattle boasts many popular and beautiful hiking trails at all levels of difficulty. From Snow Lake to Twin Falls, you’re sure to find a hike that’s both fun and awe-inspiring.

5. Learn at The Museum of Flight
Learn about the history of aviation at the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world. Explore the museum’s 175 aircraft and spacecraft, sit at the controls of the fastest jet on Earth, and even jump in the pilot’s seat in a flight simulator. 

Don’t miss the chance to connect with your DRI community in the Emerald City at the 2024 DRI Annual Meeting. Mark your calendars for October 16-18, and get ready to join us in Seattle!  

Sign up here to receive updates about the 2024 Annual Meeting including early registration rates, programming highlights, networking events, and more! 


The Center Announces 2023 Annual Report!

The DRI Center for Law and Public Policy (the Center) is pleased to announce its inaugural Annual Report!  

This report covers many of the Center’s accomplishments in the past year, including committee successes, amicus briefs, white papers and reports, and more. In 2023, the Center filed 12 amicus briefs, produced three webinars, appointed 81 members to task forces and working groups, and so much more.  

It’s been a busy year for the Center! Check out all our accomplishments here.

The Center provides the most effective voice for the defense bar in the discussion of substantive law, judicial process, constitutional issues, and the integrity of the civil justice system at both the national and state levels. 

Visit the Newly Enhanced Center Website

Center Website


The DRI Center for Law and Public Policy’s website has recently been enhanced to provide more information about the Center; the work of its committees, task forces, and working groups; and its leaders and members. Included among the new features are the ability to submit requests for amicus assistance online and apply to join the new Appellate Skills Development Subcommittee. Members can access resources from the Federal Judicial Center and learn about the amendment process for Federal Rules, and SLDOs can seek assistance from the State Legislation and Rules Task Force. You can also help the Center’s Social Inflation Task Force in its efforts to analyze litigation outcomes. 

The website’s growth is ongoing. Please check back regularly or sign up for Center updates, as additional enhancements are in the works. We look forward to the Center’s website becoming an even more valuable resource to DRI members and a more powerful voice for the civil defense bar.

Awards Spotlight

Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2024 Mary Massaron Award and David V Wilson II Award!

DRI would like to congratulate Kristine Campbell, general counsel at U-Haul, on receiving the Mary Massaron Award at the 2024 Women in the Law Seminar. The award was created for a person who stands as an innovator and role model and one who has made significant efforts to advance women in the legal profession. It is presented annually to a DRI member or members who have demonstrated a high regard for diversity and a commitment to advocating the inclusion and promotion of women, as well as fostering women’s initiatives and actively promoting positive mentoring relationships with other women in the legal profession.

WITL Award

DRI would also like to congratulate Diana Gerstberger, Vice President of Casuality Claims at Arch Insurance Group Inc., on receiving the David V Wilson II Award for outstanding leadership and service to the Construction Law Committee at the 2024 Construction Law Seminar. The David Wilson Award is an annual award bestowed upon a member of the Construction Law Committee who contributes to the committee through participation in some aspect of the committee’s business; promotes the interests of the committee and DRI; who has shared his or her knowledge and experience with others in a mentoring or teaching capacity; and inspires involvement in the committee by being open to others and works to leave the Committee and DRI in a better situation then when they began with it.


Construction Award

Membership Spotlight

DRI Members Help Each Other

DRI Drives Business

One of DRI’s greatest assets is its community.  
That’s because our members are committed to helping each other grow their careers and expand their opportunities. In fact, in a 2022 survey of active DRI members, we saw that 49% of respondents have given or received a referral in the last two years.  
Over 40% of those referrals were worth more than $50k.The DRI community comes together to not just invest in their future, but to help their peers build their book of business and grow their practice.  
So, how do you want to see your DRI community grow in 2024?  
Consider the role DRI has played in your professional life and success of your firm. By encouraging your peers to join DRI, you can share that experience with them. DRI membership enables you to:  

DRI Drives Business. Who are you encouraging to join DRI and build their business? Help us grow the DRI community by telling your peers about DRI.  

Center Legislation and Rules Committee Update

New Appointments

Several DRI members were recently appointed to the growing State Legislation and Rules Task Force within the Center’s Legislation and Rules Committee. Joining the task force are Cristina Cambo of Bolin Law Group in Maitland, Florida; Jake Daly of Freeman Mathis & Gary in Atlanta, Georgia; Henry Goldman of Wiedner McAuliffe in Chicago, Illinois; Jason Hill of Kennedy & Graven in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Jenny Swajkoski of Hall Booth Smith in Missoula, Montana; Dan Granfield of Sulloway & Hollis in Concord, New Hampshire; George Simpson of Simpson Law in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jeanne Loftis of Bullivant Houser Bailey in Portland, Oregon; Giles Schanen of Maynard Nexsen in Greenville, South Carolina; and Rory Cosgrove of Carney Badley Spellman in Seattle, Washington. Brett Rideout of Rideout Law in Toronto, Ontario, was also recently appointed, providing representation on the task force from Canada. 

Magratten_BrooksChaired by Brooks Magratten (Pierce Atwood), the State Legislation and Rules Task Force recently celebrated its first anniversary of existence.  It was created in 2023 to assist, upon request, State and Local Defense Organizations (SLDOs) concerned about a legislative or rule issue in their state.

Cambo_Cristina Daly_Jake    Goldman_Henry Hill_JasonSwajkoski_Jenny Granfield_DanSimpson_George Loftis_JeanneSchanen_GilesCosgrove_RoryRideout_Brett
Pictured, L to R: Cambo, Daly, Goldman, Hill, Swajkoski, Granfield, Simpson, Loftis, Schanen, Cosgrove, Rideout

Center Joins Comment on Ohio Rule 702

The Center recently signed on to a coalition letter to the Supreme Court of Ohio strongly supporting the proposal to align Ohio Rule of Evidence 702 with its updated federal counterpart, Federal Rule of Evidence 702—2023 Amend. The proposed amendment clarifies that the proponent of expert testimony must demonstrate “to the court that it is more likely than not” that the rule’s admissibility requirements are met. The amendment underscores the need for judges to act as gatekeepers against the admission of unreliable expert testimony. The proposed amendment also provides that an expert’s opinion must reflect “a reliable application of the principles and methods to the facts of the case.” 

Email TheCenter@dri.org to learn how the Center can support additional advocacy efforts before state judicial rulemaking committees and legislatures to bring about change. 


From the DRI Foundation

2024 Law Student Diversity Scholarship – Now Accepting Applications! 

DRI Law Student Diversity Scholarship

The DRI Foundation announces its annual Law Student Diversity Scholarship program, open to rising (2024–2025) second- and third-year African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ+, and multiracial students. Incoming second- and third-year female law students are also eligible, regardless of race or ethnicity. Incoming second- and third-year law students who also come from backgrounds that would add to the cause of diversity, regardless of race or gender are eligible to apply.  
The Foundation’s goal is to provide financial assistance to three worthy law students from ABA accredited law schools in order to promote, in a tangible way, the DRI Diversity Statement in Principle. One (1) scholarship in the amount of $10,000 and two (2) scholarships in the amount of $5,000 each will be awarded to successful applicants.  
The application deadline is March 31, 2024. Recipients of the scholarships will be announced at the Diversity for Success Seminar in June 2024.  

Share this opportunity with law students in your network who may qualify!

Learn more and apply here.

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New! Free Webinar Series for DRI Members!  

DRI is excited to offer DRI members a new, exclusive benefit with a free webinar series on trending topics. Earn up to 8 hours of CLE credit this year at no additional cost—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 about the 9 webinars included in this series. 

On March 8, join us for the second webinar of the series: Jurors in Flux: Unraveling the Impacts of Safetyism and Conspiracism on Today’s Verdicts

Juror profiles have changed recently, which has influenced the rise in nuclear verdicts. Two major shifts we have seen include the rise of safetyism and spread of conspiracy beliefs. In this presentation, Dr. Nick Polavin, a senior jury consultant with IMS Consulting & Expert Services, will discuss his research on how these two shifts have affected jurors and how they view evidence, particularly science-based arguments/evidence. He will also discuss how defendants can adapt their jury selection strategy and thematic arguments to meet these changes. Earn up to 1.20 hours of CLE credit for attending!

Register now!

Free Webinar

Center Public Policy Committee Update

Center Task Force to Join Forces with Lit Skills for “The Pushback”

During the upcoming DRI Litigation Skills Seminar (February 28–March 1 in Miami, Florida) members of the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy’s Social Inflation Task Force will engage in an active discussion about strategic responses to increasing settlement demands, the impact of attorney advertising, and pitfalls associated with third-party litigation funding. The panel for the session, titled “The Pushback: Strategies for Countering Plaintiff Tactics in Inflated Valuations and Verdicts,” will also discuss celebrating recent trial victories and settlement outcomes from across the country.

Moderated by Lauren Motes (Dinsmore & Shohl), the panel will include Lisa Bellino (Zurich North America), Eric Passeggio (Sulloway & Hollis), Chris Turney (Turney LG), and Clare Maisano (Evert Weathersby Houff).

Register today!

Motes_LaurenBellino_LisaPasseggio_Eric Chris Turney Maisano_Clare
Pictured, L to R: Motes, Bellino, Passeggio, Turney, Maisano

New Appointment

Wilkinson_AmyThe Social Inflation Task Force continues to grow. The task force is pleased to announce its most recent appointee: Amy Wilkinson of SECURA Insurance Co. in Neenah, Wisconsin.  

The DRI Blog

Read Our Newest Blog Post — A Guide to Mastering Legal Writing 

In this blog, we will provide practical tips to enhance your legal writing. These tips will help you make strong arguments that are effective in court or meetings. 

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Becoming skilled at legal writing, especially making convincing arguments, takes time and effort. By understanding your audience, clearly defining objectives, structuring your arguments effectively, and using these practical tips, you can elevate your legal writing skills and enhance your effectiveness as a civil defense attorney or in-house counsel. A good argument wins cases and builds your reputation as a persuasive and credible legal professional. 

Check out our new post on Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog to learn more!

Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog – Your premier resource for civil defense content.

DRI Committee Spotlight

SLC Corner | Litigation Skills Committee

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Scale of justice - gold scaleLitigation Skills Committee
Pamela Newsom Lee, Vice Chair

1. Tell us about your committee’s practice area. What does it cover? 
Our committee’s practice area is focused on litigators, no matter the specific type of litigation. Our committee has everyone from medical malpractice to construction defense, with everything in between. We focus on trial skills and tactics to prepare a case for trial or resolution through preparedness for trial.

2. What are the highlights of your upcoming seminar?
Our upcoming seminar will be held in Miami, which is the perfect place to be in February! In addition to great programming, we have at least one client hosting a panel counsel meeting during our seminar to provide opportunities for our members to network, as well as allowing the clients the opportunity to see and meet with their current counsel, as well as introductions to some potential new counsel from all over the country. 

3. Are there committee projects that current and prospective members should look for in 2024? 
Our committee is currently working on a .1 series to provide digital training opportunities for our members that take up 6 minutes or less of their time. Are you taking an expert deposition for the first time? There will be a .1 for that. You’re removing a case to federal court for the first time in a while and need a refresher? There’s a .1 for that. We are adding content to roll out that project this year. 

4. How can someone get involved with your committee? What opportunities are available?
If you’d like to get involved, reach out to myself or the Chair, Chris Turney. We welcome anyone who is interested and are rolling out an application process this year to help fit people in where they are most interested and can provide the most assistance.

5. What is the best thing about the Litigation Skills Committee?
We are a fun group and are constantly learning about new law, strategies and trends in the law. You can’t come to a Litigation Skills event and leave without learning something and having a good time while you’re at it!

6. What are you interested in learning more about this new year? (This could be about a legal issue or just in general.)
We’re interested in collaborating and learning more about strategies to deal with social inflation and nuclear verdict issues.

Want to get involved?

  • Join the Litigation Skills Committee

  • Register for the Litigation Skills Seminar on February 28-March 1 in Miami, FL.

  • Reach out to Committee Chair Chris Turney at cturney@turneylg.com or Vice Chair Pamela Lee at pamela.lee@swiftcurrie.com to learn more about the Litigation Skills Committee.

And The Defense Wins

DRI Members Share Their Victories

Gail Cosgrove of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel was lead counsel in a medical malpractice case for which the jury returned a defense verdict. The case involved a 31-year-old man who went to Pali Momi Medical Center in West Oahu, Hawaii, complaining of chest pain. He was hospitalized overnight and discharged. Five days later, he was found dead in his bedroom. At trial, Plaintiffs’ attorney asked the jury for $142 million.

Gail Cosgrove

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.

DRI Member News

Congratulations to DRI Members for Their Achievements


Jonathan M. Abramson has joined SGR, LLC located in Denver, CO, as a Partner. His areas of practice include civil litigation, criminal law, overweight citations and other hauling violations, section 1983 claims, and trucking accident defense. Jonathan has been a DRI member since 2014. 

Denise M. Anderson has been selected as the new Managing Partner for Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in the Tampa, FL office location. She began her three-year term for this role on January 1, 2024. Butler is an Enterprise Member of DRI. Denise has been a DRI member since 2000. 

Kristi Wilcox Arth has co-authored a new treatise on evidentiary privileges admitted under Tennessee law and federal law through the Sixth Circuit. She co-authored this publication with Todd Presnell, both from the law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. Kristi has been a DRI member since 2014, Todd has been a DRI member since 1996.  

Austin Atkinson, Allison Averbuch, Robin Daitch, Nate Gorman, Kathleen Wilkinson, and Jeffrey Wolber were among the fifteen Hall Booth Smith attorneys that were appointed to Partner this January 2024. Hall Booth Smith, P.C. is an Enterprise Member of DRI. Austin has been a DRI member since 2022, Allison since 2021, Robin since 2023, Nate since 2018, Kathleen since 2020, and Jeffrey since 2021.   
Mohamed Bakry has been elected as President of the Lawyers’ Club of Philadelphia. He is the first Muslim President of this 132-year-old organization. The club was founded in 1892. He is a Shareholder at Marshall Dennehy Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. Mohamed has been a DRI member since 2015.  

Jonathan H. Garside has joined Stanton | Barton LLC located in St. Louis, MO. He focuses on product liability, medical malpractice, and class action litigation. Jonathan has been a DRI member since 2001. 

James R. Hankle has joined Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in the Pittsburgh, PA office as Of Counsel. He focuses on complex litigation in both federal and state courts. James has been a DRI member since 2006. 

Edwina V. Kessler has joined Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C in the Fort Lauderdale, FL office as a Principal. She is the Managing Attorney of the Fort Lauderdale office. She is an experienced mediator of cases in the county and circuit courts. Edwina has been a DRI member since 1996. 

Douglas R. Kinler has joined Cosmich Simmons & Brown, PLLC in the New Orleans, LA office as a civil litigation attorney. He mainly practices law in toxic tort matters. Douglas has been a DRI member since 2000. 

Heather Levinsky has joined Berkley Select in Chicago, IL. She is a Senior Claims Consultant. Heather has been a DRI member since 2021. 

Haley Moody has been promoted to Member at the law firm Miller & Martin PLLC in the Chattanooga, TN office. She is a commercial litigation attorney, and this election is effective January 2024. Haley has been a DRI member since 2015. 

Barbara A. O'Donnell has joined McAngus Goudelock & Courie LLC in the Boston, MA office serving as regional coverage counsel for the New England area. Her practice areas include bad faith and insurance coverage. Barbara has been a DRI member since 2012. 

Colton Parks has joined Bowman and Brooke LLP in the Orange County office as Of Counsel. He primarily focuses on cases with product liability, commercial and consumer litigation, and personal injury matters. Colton has been a DRI member since 2023.  

Charles “Chuck” A. Stewart, III has been selected as President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). His one-year term is effective January 1, 2024. He is a Partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in the Montgomery, AL office. Chuck has been a DRI member since 1986. 

James R. Westbury, Jr. has set up his own law firm Westbury Law, LLC. The firm is in Eatonton, GA. James has been a DRI member since 2009. 

Damion M. Young has joined Bowman and Brooke LLP in the Orange County office as Of Counsel. His cases involve auto collisions, alleged product defects, asbestos and toxic substances exposure, e-commerce, and commercial litigation. Damion has been a DRI member since 2023. 

If you have a recent achievement or recognition that you would like featured, email your news to membership@dri.org. Please note that DRI reserves the right to review all accomplishments to ensure they are adequate for publishing. All submissions will be reviewed for relevance and compliance with DRI’s mission. Submissions may be edited to conform with our standards, and space limitation.


Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association Holds Annual Meeting

In January of 2024, the Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association held its Annual Meeting, and the following people took office: J. Seth McCoy of Steen Dalehite & Pace LLP (President), Shea Scott of Daniel Coker Horton & Bell, P.A. (Vice President), Nicholas K. Thompson of Copeland Cook Taylor & Bush, P.A. (Secretary/Treasurer). Additionally, James L. Wilson IV was recognized and presented with the Exceptional Performance Award as outgoing President. 

DRI Leadership Attends DRI Joint Regional Meeting in Phoenix

In January, DRI leadership attended the DRI Joint Regional Meeting in Phoenix, with the Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, and Pacific regions. The meeting was led by DRI Regional Directors Mike Dailey (Mid-Atlantic Region), Rachel Tallon Reynolds (Northwest Region), and Renee Welze Livingston (Pacific Region). DRI President Elect Anne Talcott of Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt Attys and Second Vice President Jill Cranston Rice of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP were also in attendance and presented during the meeting. 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.

Regional Meeting

DRI Cares

DRI Board Supports Blessings in a Backpack

At the Winter DRI Board Meeting, DRI staff and Board members participated in a DRI Cares project to support Blessings in a Backpack. Board members and staff filled backpacks that will help keep kids fed when they’re away from school.

DRI Cares Board Meeting

In January, attendees of DRI’s 2024 Civil Rights and Governmental Tort Liability; Construction Law; and Women in the Law Seminars also participated in a DRI Cares event benefitting Blessings in a Backpack.

DRI Cares Jan

New Members and Advocates

DRI Welcomes the Following Members and Advocates:

New Members
Laurence H. Leavitt, Falmouth, ME                                                                   
Jamie R. Pollack, Toronto, ON, Canada                                                               
Jeffrey Alan Lacy, Fort Worth, TX                                                                   
George L. Simpson, IV, Raleigh, NC                                                                  
Brian H. Stephenson, Louisville, KY                                                                 
Randall J. Colbert, Missoula, MT                                                                    
Aaron G. Weishaar, Saint Louis, MO                                                                  
Jason M. Hill, Minneapolis, MN                                                                      
Petra L. Justice, Tampa, FL                                                                         
Elizabeth Sconzert, Mandeville, LA                                                                  
Kristina M. Bakardjiev, Miami, FL                                                                   
Stephane Pitre, Montreal, QC, Canada                                                                
Chelsea V. Brown, Morgantown, WV                                                                    
James P. O'Connor, New York, NY                                                                     
Cory S. Reed, Houston, TX                                                                           
John P. DePaolo, Buffalo, NY                                                                        
Anthony Thomas Pieti, Livonia, MI                                                                   
Steven A. Williams, Chicago, IL                                                                     
Christopher A. Iacono, Philadelphia, PA                                                             
Daniel M. Chen, Honolulu, HI                                                                        
Laura D. Devine, Manchester, NH                                                                     
Lauren Birnbaum, Boston, MA                                                                         
Elizabeth O. Papoulakos, Glen Allen, VA                                                             
Kendra A. Wolters, Saint Louis, MO                                                                  
Robert T. Plunkert, Saint Louis, MO                                                                 
Rachel L. Forman, Washington, DC                                                                    
Michael Baniak, Chicago, IL                                                                         
Alona R. Croteau, Hartford, CT                                                                      
Philip Elmore, Springdale, AR                                                                       
Raechel T.X. Conyers, Detroit, MI                                                                   
Rosalie Haug, New Orleans, LA                                                                       
John Patrick Dunnigan, Glen Allen, VA                                                               
Heather S. Esau Zerger, Wichita, KS                                                                 
Morgan Elizabeth Villers, Charleston, WV                                                            
Chase Kennedy, Boston, MA                                                                           
Kendra Danielle Talley, Atlanta, GA                                                                 
Alicia Carothers, Panama City, FL                                                                   
Anthony Nwaneri, New York, NY                                                                       
Makenzie P. Segars, Columbia, SC                                                                    
Michael Barbarula, Bridgeport, CT                                                                   
Barnaby E. McLaughlin, Wellesley, MA                                                                
Henry Goldman, Chicago, IL                                                                          
Donna Vobornik, Chicago, IL                                                                         
Jessica LaFaurie, Miami, FL                                                                         
Nathan T. Boone, Minneapolis, MN                                                                    
Amanda C. Saper, Philadelphia, PA                                                                   
Jamie Logan, Orange Beach, AL                                                                       
Bardia Sergent, Atlanta, GA                                                                         
Honor Moore, Denver, CO                                                                             
Benjamin Korn, Orlando, FL                                                                          
Carly Chinn, Ridgeland, MS                                                                          
Casmir Thornberry, Covington, KY                                                                    
Tony C. Watkins, III, Sikeston, MO                                                                  
Megan Walker, Columbia, SC                                                                          
Benjamin P. Harmon, Birmingham, AL                                                                  
Brian Palmeri, Stamford, CT                                                                         
Ace Tate, Sacramento, CA                                                                            
Jill Novak Dalrymple, Nashville, TN                                                                 
Librado Loriente, Madrid, Spain, Spain                                                              
Brian R. Grimm, Chicago, IL                                                                         
Brett Rideout, Toronto, ON, Canada                                                                  
Jason Tani, Honolulu, HI                                                                            
Elizabeth Carey, Spring, TX                                                                         
Aaron Guin, Fort Collins, CO                                                                        
Stacy Alexejun, Madison, WI                                                                         
Mary Henderson, Austin, TX                                                                          
Megan E. Roth, Coral Gables, FL                                                                     
Kira Barrett, Phoenix, AZ                                                                           
Brandon Timothy Kuhn, Tampa, FL                                                                     
John Cullen, Tampa, FL                                                                              
Daniel Jacob Berkowitz, Chicago, IL                                                                 
Connor Peth, New Orleans, LA                                                                        
Nicole Lee Carnevale, Boston, MA                                                                    
Alexander G. Hawn, San Antonio, TX                                                                  
Adriana DiMatteis, Morgantown, WV                                                                   
Rachel Elizabeth Hobbs, Los Angeles, CA                                                             
Andrew Wells, New York, NY                                                                          
Geoffrey Klingsporn, Boulder, CO                                                                    
Charles T. Meyer, Ladera Ranch, CA                                                                  
Hannah Ji-Otto, Saint Louis, MO                                                                     
Nichole M. Buckle, Shreveport, LA                                                                   
Brenna M. Lynch, Overland Park, KS                                                                  
Tahlia D. Cypress, Raleigh, NC                                                                      
Jennifer Bonneville, Los Angeles, CA                                                                
Ollie M. Green, Jefferson City, MO                                                                  
Nicholas K. Thompson, Hattiesburg, MS                                                               
Jacob Edward Daly, Atlanta, GA                                                                      
Tyler T. Young, Minneapolis, MN                                                                     
Amanda J. Taylor, Phoenix, AZ                                                                       
Paul R. Paul Lee, Phoenix, AZ                                                                       
Hannah Marcley, Arlington, VA                                                                       
Catherine V. Arpen, Jacksonville, FL                                                                
Danny Mark Howell, Vienna, VA                                                                       
Joseph Wager, Boise, ID                                                                             
Sinnot Martin, New Orleans, LA                                                                      
Paul J. Hulbert, Salt Lake City, UT                                                                 
Cory Daniel Noel Greenleaf, Austin, TX                                                              
McDaniel Mortimer Kelly, Cleveland, OH                                                              
Brian Turek, Cincinnati, OH                                                                         
Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Minneapolis, MN                                                              
Krupa A. Weslosky, Parsippany, NJ                                                                   
Mary Fletcher, Saint Louis, MO                                                                      
Kathrine Ann Klaus, Kansas City, MO                                                                 
Amy C. Markham, Little Rock, AR                                                                     
Eleanor A. Clerc, Baltimore, MD              
Brandon D. Cox, Atlanta, GA                                                                         
Brent A. Talbot, New Orleans, LA                                                                    
Curtis L. Ott, Columbia, SC                                                                         
Darren C. Audino, Mount Laurel, NJ                                                                  
John R. Owen, Richmond, VA                                                                          
Joseph C. Blanton, Jr., Sikeston, MO                                                                
Joseph D. Dillard, Charleston, WV                                                                   
Lemuel E. Montgomery, III, Ridgeland, MS                                                            
Olivia F. Amlung, Covington, KY                                                                     
Quincy T. Crochet, New Orleans, LA                                                                  
Toyja E. Kelley, Washington, DC                                                                     
Allen C. Smith, Charlotte, NC                                                                       
Daniel M. Chen, Honolulu, HI                                                                        
Harold E. McKee, Chicago, IL                                                                        
Joseph E. Hainline, Washington, DC                                                                  
Joseph W. Price, Little Rock, AR                                                                    
Kevin M. Blair, Lansing, MI                                                                         
Lana A. Olson, Birmingham, AL                                                                       
Ryan Thomas Hand, Spring, TX                                                                        
Scott M. Trager, Baltimore, MD                                                                      
Stephen W. Robertson, Sacramento, CA                                                                
Andrew J. Rutens, Mobile, AL                                                                        
Bettina J. Strauss, St Louis, MO                                                                    
Heather F. Shore, Kansas City, MO                                                                   
Jessica E. Schwie, Minneapolis, MN                                                                  
John M. Nunnally, Raleigh, NC                                                                       
John T. Eads, III, Bloomfield Hills, MI                                                             
Luigi Spadafora, New York, NY                                                                       
Mark A. Fredrickson, Minneapolis, MN                                                                
Mark E. Schmidtke, Valparaiso, IN                                                                   
Matthew S. Foy, San Francisco, CA                                                                   
Meghan H. Yanacek, Atlanta, GA                                                                      
Russell William Porritt, II, Bloomfield Hills, MI                                                   
Anelise Roina Codrington, Atlanta, GA                                                               
Hope G. Nightingale, Chicago, IL                                                                    
Jennifer L. Dlugosz, Chicago, IL                                                                    
Marcus B. Snowden, Toronto, ON                                                                      
Michael D. Carter, Oklahoma City, OK                                                                
Thomas K. Hanekamp, Chicago, IL                                                                     
Timothy James Reed, Chicago, IL                                                                     
Vicky-Marie J. Brunette, Buffalo, NY                                                              

Seminar Spotlight

Got the Winter Blues? Attend the Upcoming Medical Liability and Health Care Law Seminar in Sunny Miami!


Join DRI in Miami for three days of sunshine at the 2024 Medical Liability and Health Care Law Seminar, February 28 – March 1. Imagine yourself recharging on one of Miami’s famous beaches where the warm turquoise waters, beautiful sand, and gentle breezes attract visitors from around the globe. Here are just a few of the ways you can enjoy some of Miami’s best beaches:

  • Experience the legendary South Beach and its popular stretch of white-sand beaches.

  • Check out the historic Art Deco architecture and inviting green spaces of North Beach.

  • Indulge in a tranquil day in the sun at Surfside.

  • Access a marina full of fishing and diving charters at Haulover Beach.

  • Spend a relaxing day in Sunny Isles Beach.

  • Take in the stunning ocean views at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.

  • Explore water sports, nature, and soft sand at Crandon Park Beach.

  • Visit the historic lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach.

  • Enjoy the unique tropical ecosystem of Matheson Hammock Park Beach.

Click here to learn more about Miami’s fabulous beaches.

Register online and save $100 on seminar registration!

DRI Education

Upcoming Seminars and Webinars

Exclusive Members-Only Early Access Registration for our May seminars in Washington, D.C. ends February 20!

2024 Litigation Skills Seminar
February 28 - March 1, 2024 | Miami, Florida

Join us in Miami for a DRI seminar that is a first of its kind. DRI’s Litigation Skills Committee and DRI’s Center for Law & Public policy are joining forces to put on a program specially designed to discuss, combat, strategize and understand how verdicts skyrocket. We’ll open with a panel from the Center for Law & Public Policy’s Social Inflation Task Force to discuss how to combat critical plaintiff tactics and strategies. Then we will assess these concepts in the context of jury selection and watch as a real, impartial jury is seated for a mock case summation. The mock jury will hear argument from top defense attorneys on a disputed liability, high damages case. Attendees will watch as the jurors deliberate the verdict live and lead through a moderated discussion of their views on parties, facts, and overall claim value. Then, after the jury has deliberated, attendees will be allowed to engage with the jury in a group discussion to better understand the key arguments, facts, and positions that drove the jury to their verdict. On Friday we will have a round table discussion on these issues along with a fabulous session from David Mann, jury consultant and nationally-known story teller, to help us develop effective narratives that are persuasive to juries. We will end our seminar a discussion on the ethical issues encountered in joint representations. This seminar is truly unlike any other. Join us to experience a real mock jury setting, engage with colleagues on how we can combat nuclear verdicts, and learn from the nation’s leading jury psychologists and trial attorneys who will deliver a master class education on all things nuclear verdict.

2024 Medical Liability and Health Care Law Seminar
February 28 - March 1, 2024 | Miami, Florida

Join us in Miami, Florida, for an engaging and exciting seminar that will address some of medicine’s most relevant and controversial issues. Topics include: a maternal fetal medicine and pediatric neurology “blockbuster” two-part series addressing common themes and countervailing claims in a birth injury case; the latest insight into gastroenterology and hepatology, including use and possible claims related to weight loss injectables; the newest concerns and claims in sports medicine and the problems facing treatment of elite athletes; and issues of social inflation and combating jury influence. Each day has dedicated time for networking opportunities in a variety of settings such as dine-arounds and an offsite event on Thursday night.

2024 Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute 
March 13 - 15, 2024 | Chicago, Illinois

Join us this March in Chicago at DRI’s flagship seminar for insurance executives, claim professionals, and outside counsel. The 2024 Insurance Coverage and Claims Institute promises to provide an array of outstanding speakers to keep you up to date on the latest developments in the industry and current trends in insurance coverage. The seminar will provide skills-based instruction and litigation guidance for coverage attorneys, as well as multiple opportunities to network. The Windy City welcomes you!

2024 Business and Intellectual Property Litigation Super Conference 
March 20 - 22, 2024 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The practice of law is changing, from where we practice to how we preserve and present evidence. At DRI’s Business Litigation and Intellectual Property Super Conference, you will learn about generational differences impacting the practice of law, issues in front of the Supreme Court and the anticipated effects of future rulings, the sweeping changes affecting restrictive covenants, and much, much more. Our featured experts will cover a wide range of issues affecting the modern litigator in an informative and interactive setting. Come reconnect, recharge, and leave reenergized about your practice!

2024 Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar 
March 20 - 22, 2024 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The nation’s best conference for toxic tort and environmental practitioners will be in the City of Brotherly Love, with best-in-class CLE, enhanced networking opportunities, and new ways to connect with your colleagues. Explore Philadelphia through networking events that offer something for everyone and earn CLE from top industry leaders and practitioners. This is the seminar you will not want to miss!

2024 Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Seminar 
March 20 - 22, 2024 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Whether you think of it as the City of Brotherly Love or the Cradle of Liberty, there can be no question that Philadelphia is the perfect venue for the nation’s premier Life, Health, Disability & ERISA (LHD&E) conference. Take a selfie with Rocky and then enjoy unparalleled CLEs from some of the country’s top LHD&E practitioners before heading out to network with colleagues, old acquaintances, and new friends. There will be plenty of time to soak up the local history, check out art museums, and maybe even enjoy a famous cheesesteak in between honing your knowledge on the latest legal trends your clients are facing. This is the seminar you will not want to miss!

2024 Trucking Law Seminar
April 10 - 12, 2024 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In a litigation environment hallmarked by increasingly high jury verdicts, the time is now for the trucking industry to act and to re-evaluate what defense strategies and methods will best protect our clients and ensure the vitality of the industry moving forward. Learn practical strategies for trucking litigators, claims professionals, and industry representatives to get aggressive in the defense of cases in the face of new and changing plaintiff tactics. Plus, discover how to address the shift in jury pool demographics, ideals, and mentalities. Presentations include a forum discussion by jury consultants, speaking to what they are seeing nationally in the jury pool, what defense strategies are working, and what is no longer effective. There will also be a practical workshop for using consultants to best prepare your key defense witnesses. Attendees will learn to employ practical approaches aimed to counter emerging tactics leveraged by plaintiff attorneys meant to fuel excessive verdicts and settlements. This includes how to maximize the benefit of mock trials/focus groups and how to employ aggressive defense tactics early to get the edge and turn the tide in trucking litigation.

Take advantage of Early Bird Registration now through February 26. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

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.

DRI Members can register now for $1,195 thanks to exclusive, limited time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting February 21 through April 8. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

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.

DRI Members can register now for $1,195 thanks to exclusive, limited time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting February 21 through April 8. 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.

DRI Members can register now for $1,195 thanks to exclusive, limited time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting March 15 through April 29. 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!

DRI Members can register now for $1,195 thanks to exclusive, limited time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting March 15 through April 29. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

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.

DRI Members can register now for $895 thanks to exclusive, limited time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting March 15 through April 29. If your membership recently lapsed, please renew your membership prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

Don’t Be a Defendant: Best Practices for Claims Counsel
February 21 | 11 a.m. CST
Sponsored by LawyerGuard
The tripartite relationship between claims defense counsel, the insured, and the insurer can be tricky, fraught with potential for misunderstanding, disappointed expectations, and conflict. Recently, claims defense counsel have even become the target of legal malpractice actions brought by insurance companies. Avoid this and other only slightly less-expensive outcomes by joining us for a discussion by a veteran legal malpractice and ethics defense lawyer and an experienced claims professional covering best practices in file management, communication, preparation, and collaboration in the defense of claims. Experienced and new lawyers alike will benefit from this fast-paced, information-filled conversation.

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

Jurors in Flux: Unraveling the Impacts of Safetyism and Conspiracism on Today’s Verdicts
March 7 | 11 a.m. CST
Recent years have seen a steady rise in the frequency and amounts awarded in so-called "nuclear verdicts." At the same time, the jury pool itself is evolving, forcing defense attorneys to reassess what types of jurors might favor their clients’ interests. Two major shifts we have seen include the rise of safetyism and spread of beliefs that aren’t rooted in evidence. These shifts have created a troubling environment for defendants—one in which not only are some plaintiff-friendly jurors becoming more extreme in their views, but some traditionally defense-friendly jurors are now switching sides and fueling some of the largest recent verdicts. Join Dr. Nick Polavin, a senior jury consultant with IMS Consulting & Expert Services, and Nicholas Rauch, an attorney at Larson King, as they discuss research on how:

1. The two shifts have affected jurors and the way they view evidence, particularly science-based arguments/evidence.
2. Defendants can adapt their jury selection strategy and thematic arguments to meet these changes.

The registration is free for DRI members and $150 for non-members. Earn up to 1.20 hours of CLE credit for attending!


Quote of the Month

“It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times, as far as I’m concerned; you can’t help it.” — Nina Simone