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DRI 2024 Annual Meeting

Get a Sneak Peek of DRI’s Annual Meeting with Keynote Speaker Rick Steves!

Join the most influential civil defense attorneys to expand your network, influence, and knowledge at DRI’s Annual Meeting, October 16-18 in Seattle, WA. 

Hear from dynamic keynote speakers, including two-time NBA champion and former US Senator Bill Bradley and popular public television host and best-selling travel author Rick Steves.  

Embark on a journey with public television host, best-selling author, and activist Rick Steves of Rick Steves' Europe as he delves into the intersection between travel and politics and shares his perspective on travel as a political act.  

Learn to engage the world around you as our inspiring keynote speakers share their unique stories and perspectives and empower you to thrive in the ever-changing civil defense climate. 

Register now for DRI’s Annual Meeting and save up to $700! 

Summer Associates Campaign

Give the Gift of DRI Membership!

Next month, DRI members will have the opportunity to give their summer associates and judicial interns a gift to help build their networks and enhance their careers: a FREE Law Student Membership! 

For a very limited time (July 1, 2024, through August 31, 2024) as an added benefit of membership, you can show your Summer Associates or Judicial Interns appreciation with the gift of DRI membership.   

Membership includes:  

  • Complimentary registration to all DRI seminars and Annual Meeting.  

  • Opportunity to engage with more than 13,000 defense bar professionals.  

  • Access to all 29 DRI Committees, including the Young Lawyers Committee.  

  • Subscriptions to The Voice, For the Defense, The Brief Case, and In-House Defense Quarterly. 

  • 8 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit this year at no additional cost with DRI's Free Webinar Series—that's a savings of $1,350! 

  • Engage with fellow students and members via the recently upgraded DRI Communities. 

Program Eligibility  

To qualify for the 2024 Summer Associates/Judicial Interns Free Membership Program, Summer Associates and Judicial Interns must:  

  • Been a 2024 Summer Associate/Judicial Intern of a current DRI member.   

  • Not a current member of DRI.  

  • Currently registered as a full time or evening student pursuing a J.D. degree  

  • Submit a Summer Associate /Judicial Intern Free Membership Program online membership application before August 31, 2024.  

If your firm has Summer Associates or Judicial Interns this year, show them your appreciation with a FREE Law Student membership! 

Be on the lookout for more information next month!

from the DRI foundation

My Three Good Things

By Grace Kulkoski

One of my favorite daily routines is a dinner time tradition I call “three good things.” Each night at dinner, we take turns sharing three good things about our day, no matter how trivial. Although some days require me to dig pretty deep to find three things to share, it has helped me and my family focus on the positive parts of our day and practice gratitude. As I reflect on the many positive ways that DRI has impacted me, I’d like to focus on three good things that I have found as a DRI member and that I would encourage you to consider.

DRI For Life Fun Runs/Walks

I attended my first DRI Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 2019. As many of you likely recall, the meeting was vibrant, full of energy, and contained some of the best programming I can recall experiencing. One of the many great memories is my first DRI fun run. I wasn’t much of a runner and didn’t know anyone attending the group run, but knowing DRI to be ever welcoming and inclusive, I ventured downstairs at way too early of a morning hour to give it a whirl. I found a circle of chatty, friendly folks, all sharing various running experiences. Some jogged occasionally for recreation, like me, and some had run numerous marathons. We ran around the city, exploring New Orleans on foot, while talking and laughing the whole time. I met some of the kindest and happiest colleagues that morning, and wondered to them if maybe I could ever manage to run a marathon. I recall them being so encouraging, telling me that it was hard, and time-consuming, but absolutely worth the effort, and certainly within my reach. I left that meeting determined to try. Now, six marathons and many more DRI running friends later, I still reflect back on that first group run, and the inspiration that came from meeting those friendly and welcoming people. At the next meeting you attend, I encourage you to set your alarm for way too early of an hour and venture down and join the group. We run, jog, walk, and most importantly, we laugh, share, and make new connections. It’s a good thing.

International Day of Service

One of the newer DRI initiatives, and one of my personal favorites, is the International Day of Service. SLDOs are encouraged to organize a service event in their state and share their experience with the larger DRI community. In Wisconsin, our Women in the Law Committee has led this event for the past two years, with members of the committee organizing events in their region of the state. Last year, we held three different events, stocking food pantries, serving meals at shelters and organizing clothing donations. The result was some great work done in our local communities along with a lot of laughs, new friends made, and enthusiastic ideas for future service projects. I am so proud of how our Wisconsin attorneys have taken on this idea with such enthusiasm and energy, and I encourage you to set up a local service event in your own state as part of this initiative. Giving back to the community while building new connections? It’s a good thing.

Blessings in a Backpack

Finally, I am grateful for DRI’s partnership with Blessings in a Backpack, which makes participating in a meaningful service effort easy and seamless. At the last DRI meeting I attended, I volunteered to help set up the food that would be packaged to provide lunches for kids over the weekend, when they would not have access to lunch at school. I got to learn more about the work they do and what a big difference we make through DRI when we hold one of these events. Everyone taking just a few minutes out of their day to pack up bags of food leads to thousands of meals going to feed kids. I had a great time meeting new colleagues, bonding over collapsing stacks of fruit loops and hundreds of plastic bags that just didn’t want to come apart. I highly recommend signing up to volunteer at the next meeting you attend, either with set up, or just stopping by the event to give a few minutes of your time. It’s a good thing.


Grace Kulkoski, legal counsel at Wisconsin Mutual Insurance, is at at-large member of the DRI Foundation.

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A Small Step Forward? The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules Has Proposed a Rule Specific to MDL Proceedings

By Jeff Holmstrand

Cases in MDL proceedings created pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 now make up well over half of the cases in federal court, with over 430,000 cases pending as of the June 1, 2024.  Defense practitioners and others have referred to MDLs as creating a “Field of Dreams” problem, because establishing a mass tort MDL practically guarantees that cases will come.

The DRI Center for Law and Public Policy’s MDL Working Group, chaired by Toyja Kelley, has been studying ways to improve the rules governing MDLs. Members of the working group became highly active in the past year, after the Advisory Committee on Federal Civil Rules—after seven years of study—published for public comment a Preliminary Draft of a new rule specific to MDL proceedings.  Draft Rule 16.1 included a list of topics that a judge appointed to preside over an MDL might consider, along with a few mandatory requirements.

The Center’s MDL Working Group conferred and submitted comments on the Preliminary Draft, including suggestions to improve it as well as to address realities of MDL practice not fully covered by the Preliminary Draft.  After receiving written comments from all sides of the bar, the Advisory Committee held multiple days of hearings, during which several members of the Center’s MDL Working Group testified.  At its April 9, 2024, meeting, the Advisory Committee, after considering the written comments and testimony, approved a revised version of Proposed Rule 16.1, and on June 4, 2024, the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the United States Courts approved that Proposed Rule. It will next be considered in December by the Judicial Conference of the United States—comprised of the Chief Judge from each judicial circuit, a district judge from each circuit, and the Chief Judge of the Court of International Trade—is presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States.  If the Judicial Conference approves this Proposed Rule, it will be considered early next year by the Supreme Court.  If it concurs with the Proposed Rule, the Court will promulgate the official rule by May 1.  The Rule would then take effect on December 1, unless both houses of Congress amend, delay, or reject it.

This article outlines the concerns that the Center and others expressed as to why an MDL-specific rule should be implemented and then gives a brief overview of some key elements of Proposed Rule 16.1. 

The Field of Dreams Problem

In the more than 60 years since the enactment of 28 U.S.C. § 1407—which authorizes the temporary transfer of cases for coordinated pretrial proceedings—district courts have seen an exponential growth in the number of matters pending on MDL dockets. Since 1968, over 1,800 MDLs involving over 1.1 million cases have been created.  Almost 25 years ago, the Federal Judicial Center published a report, Mass Torts Problems & Proposals, A report to the Mass Torts Working Group (Fed. Judicial Center January 1999), which observed that, “[t]he consequences of aggregation can be to create a mass tort.  To capsulize a now-familiar metaphor, Professor McGovern has coined the mantra: ‘If you build a superhighway, there will be a traffic jam.’”  Mass Torts Problems & Proposals at 23.

More recently, in 2016, Judge Land stated that his experience as a transferee judge in two MDLs led him to believe that:

 the evolution of the MDL process toward providing an alternative dispute resolution forum for global settlements has produced incentives for the filing of cases that otherwise would not be filed if they had to stand on their own merit as a stand-alone action. Some lawyers seem to think that their case will be swept into the MDL where a global settlement will be reached, allowing them to obtain a recovery without the individual merit of their case being scrutinized as closely as it would if it proceeded as a separate individual action.

In re Mentor Corp. Obtape Transobturator Sling Prod. Liab. Litig., No. 4:08-MD-2004 (CDL), 2016 WL 4705827, at *1 (M.D. Ga. Sept. 7, 2016).  Based on his experience, Judge Land added:

This phenomenon produces the perverse result that an MDL, which was established in part to manage cases more efficiently to achieve judicial economy, becomes populated with many non-meritorious cases that must nevertheless be managed by the transferee judge—cases that likely never would have entered the federal court system without the MDL.

Id.  A rules-based requirement to provide threshold information at the outset of litigation would discourage if not outright eliminate the filing of unsupportable claims. 

The Center’s Input on the Preliminary Draft

The Preliminary Draft allowed but did not require the MDL judge to consider techniques to address unsupportable claims.  The Center and others advocated for a mandatory rules-based procedure for addressing the “Field of Dreams” problem rather than the Preliminary Draft’s gentle suggestion that MDL courts could consider, in appropriate cases, establishing procedures that might, at some point, weed out unsupportable claims.  The Center and others argued that Rule 16.1 should provide for mandatory early disclosure of the information necessary to establish each MDL plaintiff’s Article III standing: an injury-in-fact fairly traceable to the defendant’s conduct that would likely be remedied by a favorable resolution.  In the vast majority of the MDL proceedings, that requirement would simply pertain to the facts establishing the use of the involved product, the nature of the claimed injury, and the date of that alleged injury.  In addition, the Center suggested that the Committee Note to proposed Rule 16.1(c)(4) ought to outline in some detail the problem with unsupportable claims, explain why it is needed, and unequivocally state that the required information is not a discovery issue. 

The Published Version of Rule 16.1

Unfortunately, the Advisory Committee’s Proposed Rule 16.1 did not adopt a mandatory requirement.  Instead, it simply states the MDL court “should” hold an initial management conference where, among other things, the parties are by default expected to provide their “initial views” on a variety of topics, including the “principal factual and legal issues likely to be presented in the MDL proceedings” and “how and when the parties will exchange information about the factual bases for their claims and defenses.”  In connection with the latter, the Committee Note candidly acknowledges that “concerns have been raised on both the plaintiff side and the defense side that some claims and defenses have been asserted without the inquiry called for by Rule 11(b).”  The Note also makes clear, consistent with the position taken by the Center, that this “court-ordered exchange of information is not discovery.”  Finally, it states that “after taking account of whether the party whose claim or defense is involved has reasonable access to needed information—the court may find it appropriate to employ expedited methods to resolve claims or defenses not supported after the required information exchange.” 

While not providing everything the Center had hoped for, there is some reason for optimism that Rule 16.1, coupled with effective advocacy, will help stem the tide of unsupportable claims.  In the coming months, the Center will publish suggestions on how best to address the “Field of Dreams” problem at the earliest possible stage in MDLs covered by Rule 16.1, as well as tools to help achieve that result.

holmstrand_jeffJeffrey A. Holmstrand is a member of Grove Holmstrand & Delk PLLC, where he focuses his state-wide practice on defending product liability, mass torts/class actions, and complex insurance disputes.  Jeff is a member of DRI Center for Law and Public Policy’s MDL Working Group.

The MDL Working Group

The Center’s MDL Working Group has been tasked with evaluating developments affecting multidistrict litigation legislation and rules; drafting appropriate changes to rules and drafts comments on proposed changes to rules affecting these cases; and, through the Legislation and Rules Committee, recommending action on those to the Center Management Council. The working group also assists SLCs on issues involving MDL issues.

Toyja Kelley (Chair), Locke Lord LLP, Washington, D.C.

Darleene Peters (Vice Chair), Irwin Fritchie Urquhart Moore & Daniels LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana

Carlos A. Benach, Irwin Fritchie Urquhart Moore & Daniels LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana

Ryan Clark, Lewis Thomason King Kreig & Waldrop PC, Nashville, Tennessee

Jeffrey A. Holmstrand, Grove Holmstrand & Delk PLLC, Wheeling, West Virginia

Anita Modak-Truran, Butler Snow LLP, Nashville, Tennessee

Torrey M. Peterson, Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City, Missouri

Robert L. Wise, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Richmond, Virginia


AI in Legal Work | From Our Partner Arcuity

Arcuity is proud to be the newest partner of the DRI team and to offer an AI software product to its membership. As part of that partnership, the Arcuity team will be providing articles regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and how it impacts the legal community.

The first thing to recognize is that there are basically two types of AI: Generative (ex: ChatGPT), which can create content, and Extractive (ex: Arcuity), which reads content. That may be an oversimplification, but the distinction between the two is that simple. Generative AI is a relatively new science and has potential issues that need to be worked through and potentially governed, while Extractive AI has been around for at least a decade and is a proven science. In this article, we will be discussing Extractive AI.

In the realm of legal and claims work, where the mountain of documents never seems to shrink and the detail in every case matters immensely, a revolution is quietly taking place. This revolution isn't about changing laws but rather about how we navigate the myriad processes and mounds of never-ending documents. At the forefront of this change is AI, a tool not for replacing the human touch but for enhancing it. Let's break this down into simpler terms, keeping in mind that while you might be seasoned in legal matters, AI could still seem like a foreign concept.

The Game-Changer in Legal Work

Think of AI as your ultra-efficient assistant. It's here to take on the heavy lifting of going through thousands of documents, pinpointing the exact pieces of information needed, and in the future potentially even predicting outcomes based on past cases. But here's the kicker: it does all this at a pace and accuracy that's simply unmatched by human capability.

For example, when it comes to document review, AI can scan through masses of text, identifying relevant information quickly. It's like having a super-speed reader on your team, minus the coffee breaks. Similarly, in legal research, AI acts as your personal librarian, fetching case precedents and laws from digital archives in mere seconds.

Making Legal Services More Accessible and Efficient

The real beauty of AI in the legal sector is its ability to democratize access to legal services. By streamlining processes and cutting down on time-consuming tasks, lawyers can take on more cases without compromising on quality. This not only makes their services more affordable but also more available to those who need them most. 

The Human-AI Partnership

It's crucial to understand that AI, as revolutionary as it is, isn't here to replace the nuanced judgement and empathy that legal professionals bring to the table. Instead, it serves as a powerful tool that frees up time for these professionals to focus on what truly matters—providing personalized counsel and making strategic decisions.

Technology-Assisted Review (TAR)

TAR is a perfect example of how AI is transforming the legal field. By combining AI's processing power with human oversight, TAR makes document review not just faster but also more accurate. This synergy ensures that while AI handles the bulk of the grunt work, the critical, nuanced decision-making remains a distinctly human prerogative.

The Future Is Bright

As AI technology continues to evolve, its potential to transform the legal industry grows ever more exciting. From enhancing the accuracy of work to making legal advice more accessible, AI is set to redefine what's possible in legal services. It may well become the "standard of care."

Learning Curve? More Like a Gentle Slope

If the thought of integrating AI into your workflow sounds daunting, here's some good news: tools like those offered by Arcuity are designed with user-friendliness in mind. AI platforms are being developed as "plug and play," making it easy for legal professionals to adopt AI and immediately start reaping its benefits.

Arcuity: Leading the Charge

Arcuity is pioneering this integration of AI within the legal industry. Specializing in record summarization and complex report building, Arcuity's AI solutions are making it simpler for legal professionals to process and understand vast amounts of information, thereby enhancing their ability to handle complex cases efficiently.

In Conclusion

The integration of AI in legal work is not just about technological advancement; it's about enhancing the invaluable human element that lies at the heart of the legal profession, with Arcuity leading the way.  The ArcuityVizion platform stands out as a revolutionary tool in the legal and claims management sector, designed to tackle the daunting task of sifting through vast quantities of documents with unparalleled efficiency and accuracy. With the capability to read, index, summarize, and sort documents by specific concepts related to disease and injury, this platform is a game-changer for professionals drowning in paperwork. Imagine the relief of saving hundreds of hours each month that would otherwise be spent on manual review. The ArcuityVizion Platform accomplishes this feat at an astonishing rate of about 1,000 pages per hour, transforming what used to be a tedious and time-consuming process into a swift and streamlined operation. This not only accelerates the workflow but also ensures that no critical information is overlooked, significantly enhancing the accuracy and quality of work in the legal and claims processes.

As we continue to explore the intersection of AI and legal services, stay tuned for more from this exciting series where we delve deeper into how technology is not just changing but enhancing the way we approach legal work.

About the Author

For more insights and to see how AI is revolutionizing the legal industry, head over to Arcuity's website at Arcuity.com. And for a peek into the mind behind these innovations, check out Joe Salvati, a man of many hats: CEO and Founder of Arcuity, husband, father, proud American, and yes, even a secret CIA operative or Sith Lord – depends on his mood.

Questions can be directed to joe@arcuity.com.


Get Involved with the 2024 DRI Awards and Elections!

Send in Your Declarations for the 2024 DRI Elections

Four National Director seats on the DRI Board of Directors, plus the offices of Second Vice President and Secretary–Treasurer, will be filled at the DRI 2024 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on October 16–18.

To be considered for one of these positions, a DRI member must first file a Declaration of Candidacy form.

To obtain the form, please contact elections@dri.org.

For more information, visit the DRI Election Hub.

Declarations are due by July 1, 2024 at 5 p.m. CDT.


Submit Your Nominations Now for DRI’s 2024 Professional Achievement and Service Awards

Do you have colleagues who deserve recognition for their professional contributions? DRI's Annual Professional Achievement and Service Awards celebrate and honor outstanding performance by state, local, and national defense organizations, DRI law firms, and individual members, and we are looking for nominees.

These awards aim to recognize individuals for their achievements on behalf of the defense bar and the civil justice system or their involvement in community and public service activities that have a positive effect on society at large. Recognition enhances members’ personal growth and accomplishments, provides us all with role models, and strengthens members’ images in the legal and business communities and with the general public.

Please download a copy of our awards brochure to learn how you can nominate a deserving individual, your organization, and its members. We encourage you to submit an entry for each award below by July 1, 2024.

Winners will be announced at DRI’s 2024 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, on October 16-18. In addition, DRI will recognize award recipients in The Voice and through press releases to national and local media.


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So You Want To Be An Appellate Attorney? Unconventional Wisdom From A Practitioner

By Jeffrey Wald

You’re early in your legal career. Or maybe you’ve just started law school. And you get the brilliant idea: I want to be an appellate attorney. Good for you. If you can pull it off, you will have one of the most intellectually satisfying and rewarding careers law offers. 

But then you think: how? What can I do now to further my prospects of becoming an accomplished appellate practitioner in the future?  I’m going to eschew the obvious. Sure, you could clerk for a United States Supreme Court Justice, or get a job at the Solicitor General’s Office, but follow me off the beaten path for a moment, if you will, and I’ll share with you three unconventional, but foolproof, tips on how to become a knockdown appellate advocate.

First, read. A lot. Read everything. Histories, plays, biographies, essay collections, the newspaper, magazines, read it all. But most importantly, read the best. Read Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, George Eliot, and company.  Read and read and read. And if you don’t like it, stop, and choose another career path. Because if you don’t like to read, you won’t like being an appellate attorney. Because being an appellate attorney is first and foremost about reading. Reading the order being appealed. Reading the transcript of the lower court proceedings. Reading poorly written and convoluted statutes and regulations. And reading case after case after case, looking for just the right one to convince that judge or justice that you know will be inherently skeptical of your argument. I’m perhaps biased, because I have always been a lover of the novel, but I think you should prioritize reading a lot of novels, from many different genres, styles, periods, and places. The novel is narrative- and character-driven, just like your appellate briefs. Learn to appreciate the complexity of the human condition that a novel like Brothers Karamazov or War and Peace portrays, and you will be far better equipped to prepare a brief on a Fourth Amendment issue, or challenge damages in a wrongful-death case, or even interpret EPA regulations.

Second, write. A lot. Write and write and re-write. But don’t start with legal writing. Instead, write a creative piece. Challenge yourself to write a short story, with plot, characters, and some action. All appeals have these three basic components: who, what, and why? Characters, action, and plot. When you’ve finished your short story, write an advocacy piece. Perhaps an article on “why PB&J sandwiches are gross,” or “what makes Calvin and Hobbes the funniest comic”? Try to convince someone of something using reason, commonsense, and perhaps even a little comedy. After that, keep writing, but again, don’t write legal prose. You’re not yet ready for that. Think of legal writing like blank verse poetry. It’s not that people should never write blank verse poetry, they just shouldn’t be allowed to write it until they’ve mastered formal verse, with strict adherence to meter and rhyme scheme. You shouldn’t be allowed to break the rules until you’ve mastered them. The same goes for legal writing. You shouldn’t be allowed to write legal prose, especially the apex of the form—appellate writing—until you’ve mastered the art of just plain good prose. If you jump into legal writing without knowing how to simply write—period—your briefs will come out looking like poorly executed blank verse poems. A heap of words on a page, with no beauty, no structure, and no power. And if you find that you don’t like writing? Then find another career path, because second to reading, appellate advocacy is about the written word.

Third, go to an art museum. Wait a minute, you’re thinking, this guy’s fallen off his horse and hit his head. An art museum? Hear me out. I’ve read hundreds of appellate briefs, and thousands of appellate opinions. Some of this writing is very good, and some is awful. What does the good writing have in common? For one, it is visually pleasing. Pick up a paper copy of a well-written appellate brief or opinion and leaf through it, and you’ll observe that it looks good. There’s proportion, balance, blank space. There’s no obvious typos or misaligned margins. Paragraphs aren’t as long as a Martin Scorsese movie. Bolded headings break up the text. And perhaps most importantly, you can tell—without even reading a word—that there is an actual argument being made, not simply endless string cites to cases that the judges will never read. And poor appellate writing? It bears the imprint of the mind of the maker: in other words, it is a mess.

But visiting an art museum will help develop another key skill that all appellate practitioners must develop: the art of slowing down. Appellate practice is not the same as trial practice. Trial lawyers must be quick on their feet, experts at improv, adept at juggling a hundred things at a time. If trial lawyers are sprinters, or perhaps even more apt, Olympic hurdlers, then appellate practitioners are marathon runners. Appellate writing takes time. You can’t be rushed. You can’t write an appellate brief in a day, and even if you could, you shouldn’t. Because before you write a single word of your appellate brief, you should have spent many hours and days thinking about the case. Reading everything. Mulling it over in the shower or during your commute. Seeing it from every angle. Treating the issues like cud in the mouth of bovine. 

In other words, appellate practice is like going to an art museum. It defeats the purpose of visiting an art museum if you make it your goal to see every painting during one visit. Instead, pick one painting and abide. Sit or stand and look. If you’re there two hours, look at that one painting for two hours. Train yourself to observe not just the foreground, but the background. See every detail. In art, details matter. In appellate practice, details always matter. In fact, it is the minutiae, the granular details, those little facts hidden on page 889 of a transcript, that oftentimes make or break an appeal—proof that the plaintiff did not raise the issue at trial she now raises on appeal, or an admission from an expert that sinks the claim. Just like it is the details in a painting—the younger son’s worn footwear in Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, or the enormity of the woman’s hands in Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters—that transforms good art into a masterpiece.

If you’re looking to guarantee a job as an appellate advocate, by all means, clerk for SCOTUS or get a job at the U.S. Solicitor’s General’s Office. But if it’s not a job you’re after, but proficiency and excellence, then first learn to read, write, and see.

Wald_Jeff_bio_printJeffrey Wald is Of Counsel at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough where he focuses on criminal and civil appellate litigation in state and federal courts. 

DRI Communities

Use YOUR Voice | DRI Hub Happenings

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Join your fellow DRI Members in the DRI Hub online community and engage in a variety of conversations. This month several members have posted about the 2024 Annual Meeting in Seattle, members are also seeking experts on various topics. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on the top things to do in Seattle, or an Hospital Administration or Pediatric Psychology.

DRI Center for Law and Public Policy | News

Rob Wise Joins Center Amicus Committee

The Center is excited to announce that longtime DRI member Rob Wise has joined the its Amicus Committee. A partner in the Richmond, Virginia, office of Nelson Mullins, Rob focuses his practice on appeals and advanced motions, product liability defense, and complex commercial litigation, including class and mass actions. He has also handled appeals before all levels of appellate courts in Virginia in both civil and administrative proceedings and has been involved in appeals throughout the country as lead appellate counsel, on-brief author, and off-brief legal strategy consultant. He has also worked on appeals from the amicus perspective, authoring amicus briefs as well as working with industry and advocacy groups to promote client interests and positions.

Rob is a past chair of the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee and continues to serve on its steering committee.  He also serves the Center as a member of its MDL Working Group.


New Appointments

The Center continues to grow and is pleased to announce new appointments to two groups within its Public Policy Committee. DRI members Mandy Kamykowski and Mariel Taylor, partners of Kamykowski & Taylor PC in Saint Louis, are now members of the Social Inflation Task Force. Mandy has been an active leader within the DRI Law Practice Management Committee, having served as vice program chair of 2022 Law Firm Leaders and Managing Partners Conference and as co-program chair in 2023. Mariel is a member of the DRI Law Practice Management Committee and the DRI Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee.

Kamykowski_Mandy   Taylor_Mariel
Kamykowski, Taylor 

New to the Center’s Third-Party Litigation Task Force is Siobhan Briley of Pugh Hagan Prahm PLC in Coralville, Iowa. Siobhan also serves on the steering committee for the DRI Litigation Skills Committee.



Dividends Program Update

The DRI Dividends Program is ending soon. 

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. 

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. 


July’s FREE Member Webinar: Marketing in a Hybrid World


Don’t miss out on July’s free webinar! Join us as we discuss how to develop long-term relationships, both in person and online in this hybrid marketplace, that will help you develop business over your career.  

Best of all, this webinar is FREE to register for all DRI members as a part of our Free Webinar Series. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn how to make the most of the hybrid marketplace. Register now to reserve your spot!


Have you read Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog?


Looking to master legal writing?

Wondering how to maximize your law firm's marketing stragies?

Need support in nailing down your work-life balance?

Read tips on these topics and more on Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog.

With posts designed to complement your legal practice with relevant, high-quality, and original content tailored to lawyers and law firms, Court & Counsel is here to support you in your work.

Check out our archive for the information you need to succeed in your practice today.


Join Us for the 3rd Annual International Day of Service

International Day of Service Poster

DRI Committee Spotlight

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!  


DRI Members Share Their Victories

Jury Finds Rear Ending Car 1% at Fault for Fatality | Joseph P. DiPino

Decedents’ estate filed a complaint under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Illinois Survival Act for death of Mr. Schauer arising from crash of 1/20/20 at 6 am on I-55 500 feet south of Route 30 exit. Mr. Schauer, a father of a 9 and 6 year old son and daughter at the time of the collision, was a passenger in Erin Zilka’s Dodge Durango. Zilka was an off duty cop from Joliet PD and Mr. Schauer was an off duty cop from Berwyn PD. They were on their first date, leaving an end of shift party, at a bar in Berwyn. Mr. Schauer and his wife were divorcing.

Mr. Ocampo, a driver of a Hino box truck owned by his employer MK Deliveries, had been struck by Rodrigo Marin’s Nissan Titan disabling the truck in the right most moving lane of the 65 mph expressway. Skies were dark and no artificial lights in the area. Several minutes later, Zilka perceived the truck at the last moment trying to swerve and brake. Her Durango crashed into the rear of the truck killing Mr. Schauer. Zilka taken into custody by Illinois State Police and charged with aggravated DUI.

Gerry Bekkerman, James Lynch, and Grant Bosnich sued Zilka and MK & Ocampo who were represented by Greg Ginex. Zilka offered his $250k policy which was refused by Pltf’s counsel. MK & Ocampo’s insurer offered $2 mil limit on 3rd of trial which Pltf also refused. At trial, Judge O’Brian barred reference to crash between Marin and Ocampo limiting it to only “first crash”. The court also barred reference to alcohol consumption of Zilka and Schauer. The court ruled that if pltf insisted on damages for Mrs. Schauer, defense counsel could cross exam her about pending divorce. Pltf dropped her claim and the case proceeded on the childrens’ claims only. ISP reconstructionist, plaintiff’s reconstructionist, and MK’s reconstructionist testified along with Pltf’s expert that Mr. Schauer survived for 2 to 8 mins and pltf’s economist. Total of 19 witnesses testified.

Pltfs’ counsel asked for $33 mil, MK/Ocamp argued for not guilty or $1.5 mil alternatively, and Zilka asked for not guilty and no evidence of pain and suffering under Survival Act. Jury returned a verdict of $13,800,000 apportioning 99% to MK/Ocampo and 1% to Zilka under Death Act and zero under Survival Act. Post verdict, Zilka’s offer of $250k revoked leaving amount owed of $136K after set offs from settling defendants. Case was tried from 5/6/24 to 5/17/24 in the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division.

Joseph P. DiPino is an attorney at Beverly & Pause Law Office in Chicago, Illinois.

DRI Member News

Congratulations to DRI Members for Their Achievements

Neil Bromberg has joined McGivney, Kluger, Clark & Intoccia as a Partner located in New York, NY. His law practice focuses on the defense of serial, mass tort, and other complex litigation matters, with a focus on products liability litigation. Neil has been a DRI member since 2013.

Ryan Cobbs has joined Shook, Hardy & Bacon as a Partner located in Miami, FL. In the insurance and reinsurance industries, his practices include mass tort, product liability, litigation, class action and complex litigation. Ryan has been a DRI member since 2012.

Joseph Garnett has joined Spencer Fane as a Partner located in Houston, TX. He represents clients in litigation matters spanning diverse industries, with a wide range of experience and many types of dispute resolution beneficial to business interests. Joe has been a DRI member since 2013.

Brian Goldstein has joined Rouse Frets White Goss Gentile Rhodes PC as a Partner located in Leawood, KS. He is an experienced litigator in his firm’s business litigation practice. Brian has been a DRI member since 2014.

Alex Hill has joined Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani as a Partner located in Portland, OR. As a commercial litigator, he defends businesses, employers, nonprofits, insurers, and other organizations in disputes in Oregon and Washington. Alex has been a DRI member since 2016.

Jeffrey Melcher has joined Buchalter as a Shareholder located in Nashville, TN. He has extensive experience as a commercial and business litigator in topics such as contract and business disputes, health care, insurance, real estate, transportation, labor and employment. Jeffrey has been a DRI member since 2013.

Eric Passeggio has joined Wilson Elser as a Partner located in Boston, MA. He has vast experience handling a wide range of civil litigation matters and keeps up with litigation trends connected to the outcome of claims, as a member of DRI’s Social Inflation Task Force, for example. Eric has been a DRI member since 2007.

Frank Ramos has joined Goldberg Segalla as a Partner located in Miami, FL. With more than 26 years of experience, he is an attorney, author and advocate. He joins the firm’s retail and hospitality and product liability practice groups. Frank has been a DRI member since 2001 and previously served as Southeast Region Director for DRI’s Board of Directors.

Drew Thomas has joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough as a Partner located in Plano, TX. His practice includes a wide range of litigation matters and civil matters. Drew has been a DRI member since 2024. Nelson Mullins is a DRI Enterprise Member.    

Michael West has joined Ensign Services, Inc. as Vice President of Litigation located in San Juan Capistrano, CA. His practice areas include general litigation, health care law, nursing home, and personal injury litigation. Mike has been a DRI member since 2007.

Chazle’ Woodley has joined Hall Booth Smith as an Associate located in Raleigh, NC. Her practices include business litigation, business transactions, environmental, mass torts & land use, general liability, medical malpractice, premises liability, products liability, and professional malpractice & ethics. Chazle’ has been a DRI member since 2023. Hall Booth Smith is a DRI Enterprise Member.  

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 limitations.


SLDO Updates

The Canadian Defence Lawyers celebrated the election of their most diverse Board of Directors in the Association's nearly 30-year History. The 2024/2025 Board Includes CDL's first ever Indigenous Director and second ever Black Director. The CDL Board of Directors includes individuals from each of Canada’s Equity Seeking Communities: Indigenous Peoples, Racialized Canadians, Disabled Canadians, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ Communities.

Lisa Pool, Evans, Philp LLP has been elected President and Chair of the Board. Lisa has been a DRI member since 2022.  

Earlier this month the Illinois Defense Counsel (IDC) held its Annual Meeting, and Denise Baker-Seal, Brown & James P.C. became the 2024-2025 IDC President. Denise has been a DRI member since 2015.

New Members and Advocates

DRI Welcomes the Following Members and Advocates

New Members

Hugh P. O'Neill, III, Harrisburg, PA
Sheri Thome, Las Vegas, NV
Matthew Mark Schroeder, San Rafael, CA
Jason L. Holliday, Charleston, WV
Amanda Z. Duman, Missoula, MT
Jessica Harding, Montreal, QC, Canada
Nathanael Luman, San Diego, CA
John R.H. Henley, Davidson, NC
Catherine Ann Freeman, Missoula, MT
Rachel L. Hampton, Columbus, OH
Ryan McCarthy, Lakeville, MN
Tyler Underwood, Addison, TX
Alisha Harris, Charlotte, NC
Ben Geller, Atlanta, GA
Cassandra Poli'ahu Hanlon Garritano, Washington, DC
Douglas R. Ross, Madison, WI
David A. Fusco, Pittsburgh, PA
James Burns, Chicago, IL
Summer Austin Wells, Atlanta, GA
J Tyler Chelf, Lexington, KY
Kierstyn Zoe Jessie, Lexington, KY
Sameer S. Karim, Houston, TX
Kristin L. Beckman, New Orleans, LA
Blake M. Edwards, Kansas City, MO
Jade Yasso, Auburn Hills, MI
Ashley Marie Langley, Seattle, WA
Alexandria Voccio, Middletown, CT
Nicholas James Gral, Des Moines, IA
Jared Phalen, Charleston, WV
John Starbuck, Merrillville, IN
Joseph Van Aalst, Chicago, IL
Debbie-Ann Morley, New York, NY
Sean Phillips, Petaluma, CA
John Devlin, Philadelphia, PA
Toni Ojoyeyi, Minneapolis, MN
Geremy Rowland, Oklahoma City, OK
Alex Hao, New York, NY
Roseann Sorce, Kansas City, MO
Nancy Phillips, Dearborn, MI
JeBria K. Wilson, Columbia, SC
Jeffrey Wald, Winston Salem, NC
Sean Miller, Houston, TX
Danielle Barfield, Tallahassee, FL
T. Marc Calvert, Cypress, TX
Darren Embry, Lexington, KY
James Womack, Lexington, KY
Richard Davies Whitaker, Birmingham, AL
Dennis Richard Brower, New York, NY
Dona Gilliland, Washington, DC
Jon Kangwaa, Chicago, IL
David Rhodes, Atlanta, GA
Emma Kristine Clark, Savannah, GA
Daniel B. Heidtke, Austin, TX
Jason David Hunter, Irvine, CA
Keelin McGovern Kraemer, Nashville, TN
Anna Myer Diaz-Caballero, Atlanta, GA
Kiri T. Taylor, Phoenix, AZ
Kenneth Cochran, Costa Mesa, CA
Nasra Moumin, Toronto, ON, Canada
Lisa G. Arnold, Indianapolis, IN
Aliyah S. Adams, Raleigh, NC
Norvell W. West, IV, Raleigh, NC
Tara Shinall, San Diego, CA
Chamberlain E. Collier, Wilmington, NC
Nicolas Briscoe, Birmingham, AL
Kate Myers, Phoenix, AZ
Andrew Stonestreet, Charleston, WV
Meredith Anne Keough, Charleston, SC
Lationa Simpson-James, San Diego, CA
Austin D. Moody, Boston, MA
Emily Hill, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Sean Thomas, Charleston, WV
Unaiza R. Tyree, Charleston, WV
Stacy H. Thompson, Richardson, TX
Chase Langston Marini, Charleston, SC
David Keirstead, Greensboro, NC
Portia Celeste Kayser, Chesterfield, MO
Kristen Diot, Tallahassee, FL
Neal Thakkar, Westmont, NJ
Louis J. Vogel, Philadelphia, PA
Erica Day, Casper, WY


Christopher Thomas Bradley, New York, NY
Dessi N. Day, San Diego, CA
Edna Sybil Kersting, Chicago, IL
George Haddad, San Francisco, CA
Jill Cranston Rice, Morgantown, WV
Matthew J. Lavisky, Tampa, FL 
Richard T. Boyette, Raleigh, NC 
Robert J. Sniffen, Tallahassee, FL
Samuel L. Phillips, San Jose, CA
Thomas J. Maroney, New York, NY 
Christian Stegmaier, Columbia, SC 
Clayton E. Dickey, Kansas City, MO
Danielle M. Waltz, Charleston, WV
James M. Weiss, Raleigh, NC
Matthew G. Moffett, Atlanta, GA
Melissa Rose-DeMartini, San Diego, CA
Michael D. Carter, Oklahoma City, OK
Diana Leigh Jacobs, Charleston, WV
Heidi G. Goebel, Salt Lake City, UT
Helen R. Holden, Phoenix, AZ  
Mark S. Williams, Missoula, MT
Michael F. Walker, Birmingham, AL
Mitchell W. Brown, Pocatello, ID  
Rosary A. Hernandez, Phoenix, AZ   
Kelly A. Freeman, Auburn Hills, MI  
Patrick J. Sweeney, Philadelphia, PA  

DRI Education

Upcoming Seminars and Webinars

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.

2024 Senior Living and Long-Term Care Litigation Seminar

September 18-20 | Chicago, Illinois

The premier senior living and long-term care litigation seminar in the country returns to Chicago on September 18-20! Join us at the Hyatt Regency, just steps from the Chicago River Walk, for an event tailored specifically for defense counsel, in-house counsel, claims professionals, and industry insiders. Gain access to unparalleled insights, CLE, and networking opportunities. The exceptional faculty includes a neurosurgeon, jury consultant, wound care nurse, an expert in electronic medical records (EMR), and "Pepper," a robot that assists with therapy and care in the skilled nursing facility/assisted living facility setting. Reconnect with clients and colleagues alike during counsel meetings, an afternoon of networking, or other exciting program events. We look forward to seeing you in the Windy City in September!

DRI members can register now through June 20 and save up to $500 thanks to exclusive, limited-time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting June 21 through August 5.  

2024 Strictly Automotive Seminar

September 18-20 | Chicago, Illinois

Join us for a timely seminar focused on current issues affecting those who practice in the automotive space. Gain perspective from in-house counsel regarding their business and legal concerns. Increase your understanding of automotive safety regulations. Attain deeper knowledge from experienced trial counsel and experts about key litigation trends, plus best practices for defending various types of automotive claims.

DRI members can register now through June 20 and save up to $500 thanks to exclusive, limited-time Early Access Registration! Everyone else can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting June 21 through August 5.  

2024 DRI Annual Meeting

October 16-18 | Seattle, Washington

Meet us in the Emerald City: where relationships build business. Join hundreds of civil defense attorneys and in-house counsel from across the country to build your book of business, enjoy networking events, reach your professional goals with cutting-edge education, and more! Hear from keynote speakers including two-time NBA champion and former U.S. Senator, Bill Bradley and popular public television host, best-selling author, and activist, Rick Steves.

Register online through September 9 and save up to $700! If your membership recently lapsed, please renew prior to registering to ensure you receive your discounted member rate.

2024 Asbestos Medicine Seminar

November 6-8 |Las Vegas, Nevada

This year’s seminar in fabulous Las Vegas will bring together a superb lineup of medical and scientific experts, top-tier litigators, and timely topics. Plus, enjoy unforgettable events designed to promote insightful discussions and meaningful networking opportunities. 

DRI members can register now through August 8 and save up to $500 thanks to exclusive, limited-time Early Access Registration! Everyone can take advantage of Early Bird Registration starting August 9 through September 23. 

Know the Role: The Ethics of AI in the Law

June 20 | 11 a.m. CDT

Artificial intelligence ("AI") is a rapidly emerging technology that is already transforming the practice of law. While it holds great promise, there are real potential pitfalls. The legal practitioner must know the role of AI in the law. This program will address how to properly integrate AI into the legal practice while doing so responsibly. Major ethical issues will be addressed so that the practitioner can use AI while avoiding serious problems.

The registration is free for DRI members and $150 for non-members.

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! 

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.

Marketing in a Hybrid World

July 10 | 11 a.m. CDT

Join us as we discuss how to develop long-term relationships, both in person and online in this hybrid marketplace, that will help you develop business over your career.

The registration is free for DRI members and $150 for non-members.

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! 

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.

Quote of the Month

“We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them.” —Albert Einstein