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MAY MEMBERSHIP MONTH

Grow Your Network, Build Your Connections with DRI

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Happy May Membership Month! All month long, DRI will be celebrating its members and the legal profession!

Grow your network and build your connections by sharing the importance of DRI membership with a peer and inviting them to join the organization.

Both DRI lawyers and those they refer to the organization will be rewarded with a $100 CLE credit for upcoming DRI programming when they join DRI by May 31. Additionally, for every member DRI lawyers recruit in the month of May, they will receive one entry into a random drawing for one of the following five prizes:  

One random recruiter and their new member recruit will also be interviewed for a feature in The Voice in the month of June.  
 
Returning this year, DRI Substantive Law Committees (SLCs) are taking part in May Membership Month. The SLC that recruits the most members during the month of May will be rewarded with a Celebratory Toast as a part of their Business Meeting at their committee’s next seminar or the Annual Meeting.  
 
For more information on May Membership Month and to obtain tools to aid in your recruiting efforts, visit dri.org/membership/may.


ON THE RADAR

New FTC Ban on Non-Compete Provisions Causes Concern and Is Under Challenge

By Andrea Schillaci and Christopher J. Kolber

On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) passed a new rule banning all new non-compete clauses for all levels of employees. The rule as passed will allow only existing non-compete agreements with certain senior executives to survive. The rule defines such senior executives as individuals in a policy-making position earning a minimum of $151,164 per year. All other existing non-compete agreements will be unenforceable as of the effective date. The new rule is to become effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Employers with current non-competes in place for employees, other than those in senior executive roles, must provide notice to those employees stating that the employer will not seek the enforcement of non-competes that are currently in place. The FTC has provided model notices in English and six other languages for employers’ use, which are available here.

Many employers have used non-complete provisions to protect legitimate business and economic interests. This new rule raises real concerns for many employers as it will invalidate existing contractual provisions for which consideration was paid. Currently, non-compete provisions are interpreted by courts under state law based on individual contract language and circumstances, and most are found to be enforceable. Those that are invalidated are done under a review of each particular contract and situation, not by a blanket prohibition of all such provisions.

The FTC has taken the position that eliminating non-compete provisions will enhance competition and create new small businesses, but the projections do not address the many existing businesses that will be harmed by having their contracts invalidated and by the potentially unfair competition that will surely occur if existing contracts are invalidated. 

The US Chamber of Commerce immediately challenged the rule in a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Texas federal court – the same US District Court that recently enjoined and struck down the new NLRB joint employer rule. The US Chamber of Commerce argues that the non-compete rule cannot stand because (1) the FTC “lacks the authority to issue regulations proscribing ‘unfair methods of competition’” (2) even if such authority existed, the rule is unlawful “because noncompete agreements are not categorically unlawful” and is a question for Congress, not for an agency, (3) it is impermissibly retroactive, and (4) it “reflects an arbitrary and capricious exercise of the Commission’s powers.” More lawsuits challenging the rule are anticipated, and if the rule goes into effect, the vagueness of certain parts of the rule will certainly cause litigation as to their meaning and application.

We expect that as the lawsuit progresses, the court will issue a preliminary injunction staying the effective date of the law until the lawsuit is resolved. Remember that the new rule has not yet gone into effect, so existing noncompete provisions are as yet unaffected. In the interim, there are other contract provisions that can be strengthened to protect your trade secrets, confidential information, and non-solicitation concerns.

3. Schillaci-Andrea-webAndrea Schillaci heads the Hurwitz Fine PC Business & Commercial Litigation Department. Her practice includes matters in the areas of professional liability, business disputes, employment litigation, healthcare, and regulatory and compliance matters. She also has extensive experience in the defense of directors’ and officers’ liability and errors and omissions matters. She serves on the firm’s Board of Directors as Secretary.

3. Kolber headshot_webChristopher J. Kolber is an associate attorney with Hurwitz Fine PC in Buffalo, New York, where he focuses his practice on defending complex business and commercial cases and assisting businesses, governmental entities, and not-for-profit organizations with a broad range of corporate matters affecting the day-to-day operations.


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CENTER FOR LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY

Center Publishes White Paper on AI in Legal Practice

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The Center for Law and Public Policy is proud to announce the publication of its latest white paper, Artificial Intelligence in Legal Practice: Benefits, Considerations, and Best Practices.

Recognizing that AI is becoming more useful—if not indispensable—for legal practice, the white paper contends that AI will not any time soon replace the necessary legal judgment and discretion that is exercised by lawyers every day in furtherance of their clients’ respective goals. Authored by members of the Center’s Artificial Intelligence Working Group, the white paper propounds that AI should be seen as a boon to the practice and something that will make lawyers more productive, not obsolete.


DRI 2024 Annual Meeting

An Evening at MoPOP, Sponsored by LawyerGuard

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Are you ready for the party of the year?!? DRI is excited to announce the location of the 2024 Annual Meeting premier networking event. Join colleagues and friends on October 17 for an unforgettable evening at The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), sponsored by LawyerGuard!

Catch up with old friends and meet new ones while exploring some of the world’s most legendary pop culture artifacts including the Hendrix Collection that explores Jimi Hendrix’s storied career and the Nirvana Gallery, which has the "world's most extensive exhibition of memorabilia" with more than 200 rare artifacts, photographs, and oral histories. Experience the winner of The Seattle Times’ 2023 Best in the Pacific Northwest including Best Art Gallery, Best Attraction, and Best Museum all while networking with your DRI Community and enjoying hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, wine, and assorted beers.

The DRI Annual Meeting also offers:

  • Business Development: Grow your professional contacts and make lasting connections with top civil defense leaders from across the country.

  • Professional Development: Earn CLE hours while expanding your knowledge on critical topics.

  • Personal Development: 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.

So, what are you waiting for? Register by June 9 and save up to $900!


2024 DRI AWARDS AND ELECTIONS

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.

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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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DRI COMMUNITIES

State-of-the-Art DRI Communities Have Arrived!

Explore the New DRI Communities!

We're excited to announce the new and improved DRI Communities! The DRI Communities provide a space for committee members to discuss cutting-edge topics in their field, network with peers and industry leaders, explore upcoming events, and more. 

What's new to DRI Communities: 

  • Streamlined Experience: Navigate effortlessly through our revamped dashboard. 

  • Dedicated DRI HUB: A new community where all members can connect and engage with peers and thought leaders, regardless of practice area. 

  • Tailored Content: Easily access your communities, content, events, and more—all in one place. Personalize your feed based on your communities and content. 

  • Enhanced Communication: Build a stronger community by easily accessing the latest discussions. 

As a DRI member, you can join any of DRI’s 29 committees for FREE to engage with the DRI Communities, enhance your career, and grow your network. Check out the full list of committees here to get started. 

“One of the great benefits of DRI membership is access to the online communities,” says Brian Brookey, Tucker Ellis LLP. “The community is an integral part of how we stay connected with each other throughout the year. I encourage everyone involved in a committee to take full advantage of this valuable resource.”

"The DRI Online Communities are a key component of my DRI membership. These forums provide a quick and easy way to share information, ask questions, exchange ideas, and generally get the word out to current members of any given committee or DRI group," said Morgan Milner, Modern Woodmen of America.

Whether you are a frequent user of the DRI Communities or it's been a while since you checked in, we hope you'll explore the expanded Community experience and join the meaningful discussions DRI members are having today.


CENTER FOR LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY

Center Joins ALF Brief Arguing that CAFA’s “Internal Affairs” Removal Exception Should Be Interpreted Narrowly

Congress enacted the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) to make it easier for corporate defendants to remove interstate class actions of national importance from state trial courts to federal district courts. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d) & 1453. The pending certiorari petition in Country Mutual Insurance Company v. Sudholt (23-1024) requests that the Supreme Court resolve well-defined splits of authority on the scope of two specific statutory exceptions to CAFA’s relaxed provisions for removal of class actions on diversity grounds: (i) the “home state” exception, where “the primary defendants[] are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed,” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B); and (ii) the “internal affairs” exception, where a class action “solely involves a claim [that] relates to the internal affairs or governance of a corporation or other form of business enterprise,” 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(9)(B), 1453(d)(2).

The Atlantic Legal Foundation (ALF), joined by the DRI Center for Law and Public Policy (the Center), has filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant review. Appellate specialist Sarah Elizabeth Spencer of Spencer Willson PLLC in Salt Lake City authored the brief, which focuses on the internal affairs exception and discusses why it should be narrowly construed and applied.  Spencer is the chair of DRI’s Appellate Advocacy Committee and a member of the Center’s Amicus Committee.

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Spencer


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FROM THE PRODUCT LIABILITY COMMITTEE

Motions in Limine: A Brief Overview of Best Practices

By Jason Hodge

When you first think of motions in limine, you might think of boilerplate motions that get recycled in case after case without much thought. But they can and should be much more than that. Indeed, the most effective motions in limine have a targeted, case-specific hook that can be backed up by reference to the prejudicial evidence or arguments. Taking this approach can not only help shape and benefit your strategy at trial by excluding certain evidence and plaintiffs’ trial tactics but can also present an opportunity to further demonstrate your credibility and improve your standing with the judge.

This article addresses some best practices for consideration throughout the entire motion in limine process.

Identifying and Drafting Your Motions in Limine

Discovery is over, and you’ve been tasked with taking the lead on motions in limine. Here are a few concepts to consider in doing so.

First, as with any motion, know the parameters—are there page limits? Does the judge have any specific procedures or policies you need to adhere to? Is there a particular format the motion must be presented in? It is important to know these strictures at the outset for both efficiency and strategy purposes.

Second, know what constitutes a proper motion in limine in your jurisdiction. Courts often instruct that boilerplate motions in limine, such as ones that essentially ask the court to follow the law, are not helpful and should be denied. Likewise, if your state (or court) has a preeminent opinion on the contours of a proper motion in limine, know that and use it to structure your approach. See, e.g., Kelly v. New West Federal Savings, 49 Cal.App.4th 659 (1996).

Third, consider the impact of the topics, both globally for the client and in the present case. For the former, a client may have institutional prerogatives to advance, and you should be mindful of those. But the inverse is also true: you do not want to push an issue that could result in a bad ruling that can be used against your client elsewhere. For the latter, step back and think about how the ruling you’re seeking in your motion could impact your evidence and arguments, as well as your opponent’s, and whether such a ruling will actually do more harm to your case. Many judges will adopt a “goose/gander” application to their rulings, even if not explicitly agreed to among the parties, so you can expect that the judge will hold you to the same standard . . . and so will plaintiffs.

Fourth, when identifying your topics and drafting your motions, have a tangible hook for each motion. That means that your motions should be targeted to specific, non-abstract issues that identify improper evidence, tactics, argument, opinion, and the like for the court to latch onto and exclude. Ideally, the hook will come from evidence, opinions, or tactics employed in the present case, with examples attached as exhibits. But if you are able to point to transcripts from trial or depositions in other cases with the same attorneys and/or witnesses, that is also beneficial.

Fifth, the previous point notwithstanding, do not completely ignore or rule out certain “boilerplate” motions in limine. They may be necessary given the context of the case or the conduct of opposing counsel. Consider whether these can be addressed in an omnibus motion.

Opposing Motions in Limine

After you’ve filed your motions, you will likely have to oppose the plaintiff’s filings (or, perhaps, those from a co-defendant). In doing so, do not object simply for the sake of objecting. Rather, use this as an opportunity to show the court your reasonableness and credibility.

Also consider whether you can use the other side’s motions as an opening to get beneficial concessions. As an inverse to the point above, if the plaintiff has moved to exclude you from introducing evidence or argument that is a minor part of your case but you think it is a bigger part of their case, agree that the motion is unopposed so long as it is reciprocal and applies to everyone.

Arguing Motions in Limine

Beyond the obvious goal of obtaining favorable rulings, arguing motions in limine is an opportunity to further display your credibility to the court, as well as to identify your team roles as the case progresses.
If multiple lawyers are attending oral argument, decide in advance who is handling which motions. Use this as an opportunity to position the main trial team as the “go to” people on the facts and evidence and appellate counsel as the “go to” people on the legal issues by having them argue certain motion topics accordingly.

Also consider the order of presentment and how that may impact the rulings. Non-complicated, easy motions can get the ball rolling. At the same time, though, positioning a complicated and/or closely contested motion following a string of easy wins may backfire, as the court may be looking for a reason to dial things back. 

Know what is a win, and know that it will not always be a ruling in your favor. Rather, sometimes a win is surviving to fight another day, i.e., the judge deferring the ruling until trial. 

Use of Rulings at Trial

Be prepared with both the order and the transcript at trial, and be able to give the court context when the other side violates the rulings. 

Also, know what is necessary to preserve an issue for appeal in your jurisdiction. It may be that you have to make a contemporaneous objection at trial to a violation of the court’s ruling on a motion in limine in order for that issue to be properly preserved for appeal.

Hodge_Jason_bio_printJason Hodge focuses his practice on advanced motions, with an emphasis on products liability defense, class actions, multidistrict litigation, and appeals. Jason authors motions at all stages of litigation, including motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, motions to strike, Rule 702 motions, various discovery and non-dispositive motions, and briefing on interlocutory and final appeals. He works with clients on matters in federal and state courts from coast to coast. He joined DRI in 2020 and is active with multiple committees, including Young Lawyers and the Product Liability committee.


CENTER FOR LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY

Center’s Chair Published in Law360

In April, Law360 published an Expert Analysis, authored by Center for Law and Public Policy Chair Larry Ebner, titled “Requiring Leave to File Amicus Briefs Is a Bad Idea.” The article criticizes the recommendation of the Amicus Subcommittee of the US Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules (which advises the “Standing Committee” on Rules of Practice and Procedure) to amend Fed. R. App. P. 29(a) by requiring a motion for leave to file any nongovernmental amicus brief in a federal court of appeals. This is the exact opposite of what Ebner, on behalf of the Center, proposed to the Standing Committee in January 2023, i.e., that the Supreme Court’s own rules amendments should be followed and that neither the parties’ consent nor leave of court to file an amicus brief in a court of appeals should be required.

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Ebner

TPLF Task Force Chair Offers Testimony in Louisiana            

In March, David Levitt, Chair of the Center’s Third-Party Litigation Funding Task Force and Partner of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago, testified before a Louisiana House Committee considering a statutory requirement to disclose TPLF agreements. It passed the Committee, then the entire House, and is awaiting action in the Senate. Louisiana also passed a TPLF disclosure statute last year, but it was vetoed by the then-Governor; Louisiana has a new Governor, raising hopes for a different result that would align with the advocacy presented in the task force’s white paper, Third-Party Litigation Funding: Civil Justice and the Need for Transparency.

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Levitt

Charlie Frazier Joins Center Amicus Committee            

The Center is excited to announce that longtime DRI member Charlie Frazier has joined the Center’s Amicus Committee. Frazier is a partner of Alexander Dubose & Jefferson LLP in Dallas and has served on the steering committee for the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee in numerous capacities, include currently as Appellate Rules Chair and as the liaison to the DRI Corporate Council Committee.  His successful argument before the Supreme Court of the United States is just one highlight in a distinguished appellate practice in both federal and state courts. For over 32 years, Charlie has assisted trial lawyers with legal strategy and handled appeals in a variety of matters, including complex commercial disputes, insurance-related issues, and professional malpractice claims. In addition to his argument before the highest court in the land, Charlie has argued many cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court of Texas and has appeared in all 14 intermediate Texas Courts of Appeals.

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New Appointments  

The Center continues to grow and is pleased to announce two new appointments to its State Legislation and Rules Task Force. Todd Page is a Member of Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC, practicing from the firm’s Lexington, Kentucky, office. He is part of the Appellate and Tort, Trial & Insurance Services practice groups. He focuses primarily on complex litigation cases involving personal injury, title and real property disputes, defense of toxic torts, sexual assault, and abuse, fires, and explosions, professional negligence, Fair Debt Collection Practices, insurance matters, and long-term care defense. Mike Gelfound, a Partner in Freeman Mathis & Gary’s Los Angeles office, has an array of insurance coverage experience and is skillful in resolving complex insurance coverage disputes.  Mr. Gelfound represents insurers in state and federal courts, arbitration, and mediation.  

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Page, Gelfound

The Center’s State Legislation and Rules Task Force coordinates activities and collaboration related to state and local defense organizations (SLDOs). The Center may assist, upon request, SLDOs concerned about legislation or rule issues in their state.  

The State Legislation and Rules Task Force is requesting members for the following states:

• Alabama
• Alaska
• Arkansas
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Hawaii
• Idaho
• Kansas
• Maine
• Michigan
• Mississippi
• New Mexico
• North Dakota
• South Dakota
• Tennessee
• Vermont
• Virginia
• Wyoming

If you are interested in joining, please contact TheCenter@dri.org.


DRI Dividends

Dividends Program Update

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

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

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.


DRI BLOG

Read Our Newest Blog Post — Grow Your Network, Build Your Connections with DRI

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DRI is a global network of civil defense attorneys and in-house counsel you can turn to for professional support and referrals.  

It's truly one of the best investments you can make in your career. . . and it's too good not to be shared! 

Read the newest post from Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog to learn what our members have to say about their favorite parts of DRI membership.

Ready to grow your network and build your connections? Check out our special May Membership Month offer today.


CENTER FOR LAW AND PUBLIC POLICY

Report a Verdict in Your Venue

The Center for Law and Public Policy's Social Inflation Task Force is working on a comprehensive tracking system to analyze litigation outcomes in light of pretrial demands and offers. This data will inform defendants in litigation about the risks and benefits of trying cases in certain venues despite the rise in settlement demand amounts.

To help, please complete this brief form. 


DRI FOUNDATION

DRI Foundation to Host Third International Day of Service in September!

This September, the DRI Foundation, along with participating state, local, and national defense organizations (SLDOs/NDOs), will host its second International Day of Service.   
 
The Foundation is asking SLDOs/NDOs to hold a service project of their choice, irrespective of size or scope, anytime during the month of September—and then let us know about it! Participation will give SLDOs/NDOs the chance to give back to the community; strengthen relationships with DRI members and SLDOs/NDOs across the nation; assist in membership development; and generate positive publicity. It’s as simple as that—hold a service project in September and share it with us. All you need to do now is plan your activity!  
 
We welcome you to be a part of the International Day of Service. Please complete this short form with the name of your organization, your service project, the date of your project, and the contact person for your organization to get started.


DRI APP

Networking Just Got Better through the DRI App!

DRI is introducing a new way to connect with your peers through the DRI app! Quickly and easily share and save contact information in real-time through digital business cards. 

You can easily access your digital business card by opening the DRI app, clicking “Profile” from the bottom navigation bar then select the “Business Card” button. To connect with another member, have them scan your business card QR code from there.  

You can also access your digital QR code by clicking “More” from the bottom navigation bar then select “QR Hub.” Your QR code will appear under “My Card.” Hit “Scan QR” to scan someone’s digital business card.

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Once you’re done, you can view all your connections by clicking “Saved Cards” from the QR Hub. Saved cards provide a quick link to a DRI app user profile so you can message the other user or export them to your phone contacts, making it easy to begin an ongoing conversation. 

Scanned Cards can be mass-cleared, edited, and exported, allowing you to keep your most important contacts where you’ll connect with them. 

Questions? Please email custservice@dri.org or call 312-795-1101 for support.


DRI WEBINAR SPOTLIGHT

Registration Now Open! | June Free Member Webinar

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.

Join DRI on June 19 at 11:00 a.m. CT for the webinar, Know the Role: The Ethics of AI in the Law, and increase your understanding of this critical topic as it relates to civil defense. And since this program is part of the Free Webinar Series, registration is free for DRI members and $150 for non-members!


DRI MEMBER NEWS

Congratulations to DRI Members for Their Achievements

Ashley Brathwaite has been accepted into the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel’s 2024 FDCC Ladder Down™ program. This program was created for women to provide training for leadership and success. She is a Partner at Ellis & Winters and represents businesses and professionals. Ashley has been a DRI member since 2011.   

Brandi Bendall Bullard has been promoted to Director of Marketing at Hall Booth Smith, an Enterprise Firm Member. Brandi has been a DRI member as an Affiliate Member since 2023.
 
Virginia “Ginny” Gambacurta has joined Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers LLP as a Partner located in Birmingham, AL. Her practice focuses on defending manufacturers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, and hotels. Ginny has been a DRI member since 2008. 

Alex J. Hagan has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was induced before approximately 625 Fellows, family members, and guests during the Spring Meeting of the College. He is his firm’s managing partner and chief executive officer at Ellis & Winters, serving as head of the management committee. Alex has been a DRI member since 1995. 

Rachel L. Hill has joined The University of Kansas Health System as Director of Claims & Senior Counsel located in Olathe, KS. Her primary practice area is medical liability. Rachel has been a DRI member since 2022. 

Joel S. Isenberg
has joined the law firm Porterfield Harper Mills as an attorney located in Birmingham, AL. His practice areas include insurance coverage and defense, and extra-contractual litigation and declaratory judgment actions. Joel has been a DRI member since 2001.  

J. Michael Kunsch has been elected as Chief Financial Officer of the law firm Sweeney & Sheehan, P.C. effective April 10, 2024. He has served on the firm’s management committee for more than 10 years. Michael has been a DRI member since 1996.  

Robyn F. McGrath has been elected as Managing Partner of the law firm Sweeney & Sheehan, P.C. effective April 10, 2024. She has served on the firm’s management committee for more than 10 years. Robyn has been a DRI member since 1996.  

Shannon N. Proctor has been promoted to Partner at Hollingsworth LLP, an Advisory Council Member of DRI’s Center for Law and Public Policy, located in Washington, D.C. She focuses on pharmaceutical products liability and personal injury litigation. Shannon has been a DRI member since 2020. 

Canadian Defence Lawyers current President Heather Sanderson of Sanderson Law recently joined His Majesty’s Council, learned in the law, Province of Alberta. There are about 12,000 practicing lawyers in Alberta, and 100 were appointed KCs this year. Heather has been a DRI member since 2014.

Nina Tickaradze has been promoted to Chief Strategy Officer at Hall Booth Smith, an Enterprise Firm Member. Nina has been a DRI member as an Affiliate 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 limitations.


SPONSORED WEBINAR

FREE Webinar From Arcuity | An Introduction to Making AI Work for You

Register Now!

June 5 | 11 a.m. CDT
Featured Speaker: Joe Salvati, Arcuity CEO

As artificial intelligence continues to reshape industries, legal professionals must stay abreast of how these technologies can be leveraged effectively and ethically in their practices. This 60-minute webinar is designed to introduce lawyers and legal assistants, particularly those in workers' compensation and civil litigation defense, to the fundamental concepts of AI. We will explore current trends influencing the legal landscape, best practices for integrating AI tools, and common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Participants will also learn practical strategies to make AI work effectively in their day-to-day operations.

Join us to demystify AI and discover how it can enhance your legal practice while adhering to the highest professional standards.

Brought to you by Arcuity, a pioneer in delivering powerful record extraction and review solutions. 

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DRI Foundation

DRI Cares to Support Justice for Our Neighbors at DRI Diversity for Success Seminar

By Mohamed N. Bakry

In addition to Blessings in a Backpack, the DRI Diversity for Success Seminar in coordination with DRI Cares will be fundraising this year for the Tennessee’s affiliate of Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), an immigration legal services nonprofit. JFON understands that legal advocacy is not merely a matter of paperwork and procedures; it is an affirmation of human dignity and justice. They stand alongside their clients, offering unwavering support and guidance as they navigate the complexities of immigration law. Whether it involves securing asylum for those fleeing persecution or reuniting families torn apart by arbitrary borders, JFON is steadfast in their commitment to upholding the principles of fairness and equity.

As someone whose life has been profoundly shaped by the complexities of immigration law, I am acutely aware of the critical need for legal representation. My family and I arrived in the United States of America in 1985, seeking refuge and opportunities for a better life. I was merely five years old at the time, filled with hope and dreams of a brighter future. However, our journey was fraught with challenges, chief among them being the arduous process of obtaining visas and ultimately permanent residency.

In 1993, my family’s application for permanent residency was unexpectedly denied, plunging us into a state of uncertainty and fear. Forced to leave the country I had called home for eight years, we returned to Egypt, where we navigated a maze of bureaucratic hurdles before finally securing our green cards. Those months of upheaval and displacement left an indelible mark on my psyche, igniting within me a fervent desire to advocate for others who find themselves in similarly precarious situations.

It was this formative experience that led me to support JFON and organizations like it, committed to providing vital legal assistance to immigrants in need. Their mission is simple yet profound: to ensure that every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, has access to competent and compassionate legal representation.

However, their ability to fulfill this mission is contingent upon the generous support of donors like you. Your investment in their work not only empowers them to provide crucial legal services but also sends a powerful message of solidarity to immigrant communities across the country. Together, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society where every individual is afforded the opportunity to thrive and contribute.

I urge you to consider the profound impact your support can have on the lives of countless immigrants and their families. By supporting JFON, you are not merely funding a nonprofit organization; you are championing the cause of justice and compassion. 

Donations will be collected through the DRI Foundation, and a donation will be made to Tennessee’s JFON on behalf of the DRI Foundation. Click here to support this important organization. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

P.S. Join us June 12-14 in Nashville for the DRI Diversity for Success Seminar to gain insights from and networking with in-house counsel and potential referral sources, as well as find resources and tools to incorporate in your career and organization that will improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Bakry_Mohamed_BIOMohamed N. Bakry of Marshall Dennehey is a member of the Casualty Department, where he defends clients in cases related to product liability, premises liability and transportation. His clients include manufacturers; property owners; retailers and product suppliers faced with lawsuits alleging assault and battery; defects on the premises; acts of negligent third parties; improper maintenance of the premises; and design defects, to name a few. He also defends product manufacturers, suppliers and premises owners in asbestos litigation.


Before the Wake-up Call Comes | How the DRI Foundation Can Support Your Wellness Journey

By Ricardo Woods

On June 15, 2015, one of our junior partners walked into my office and said, “You look terrible! Are you okay?”

My response was “I am fine, but my chest hurts.” She immediately rushed me to see a doctor, and about an hour later, the abnormal EKG resulted in the nurse in the doctor’s office calling 911. The 911 call led to me sitting in the back of an ambulance with two of our city’s top tier firefighters, racing to the local emergency room. After voicing my concern about kicking all the residents out of the room, a team of doctors and nurses placed a number of sensors all over my torso. I was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay, and for the first time in years, I did not have access to my cell phone, my laptop or my emails. I was left alone with my thoughts.    

I had no idea what was going on with my health. Was it a heart attack? Was I going to have to undergo some sort of emergency surgery? Was I going to have to go on one of those awful bland food diets or eat hospital food for the rest of my life? These are just a few of the questions I pondered while the doctors and nurses ran a series of tests on me, including putting me on a treadmill for about an hour. After all of that fuss, it turned out that my heart is slightly enlarged (not serious at all), and I was suffering from extreme exhausting from working non-stop and attending two or three after-work events a week. That overnight stay in the hospital triggered a serious wake-up call for me, because at the time I had two elementary school children and a wonderful wife who needed me to take better care of myself. 

That wake-up call lead me to make some serious changes in my wellness journey. First, I started a pre-bedtime sleep routine that included not checking my emails after a particular time - and no electronics.  This helped me get quality level rest and function at a higher level. I coupled that with waking up fifteen minutes earlier each morning so I could have a 0.5 hours of quiet meditation time without any electronics. It was terribly difficult at first, because I just knew those emails were waiting on me, but now it is a solid habit that helps me focus. Second, I introduced thirty minutes of exercise into my daily routine and even enlisted an accountability partner (my wife), which lead to even more quality time on the days we chose to take long walks. Third, I stated eating better even when I was on the run in airports. Fourth, I made sure to go get a physical every year just to see how I was doing. Fifth, I stopped making excuses and made a point to reconnect with my friends (lawyers and non-lawyers) on a regular basis. Sixth, I took a real vacation and forced myself to unplug which meant checking emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Seventh,  I started checking in on my team to make sure they were taking good care of themselves mentally and physically.

Up until that overnight stay in the hospital, I suffered with at least one bout with exhaustion a year. I have not suffered from any at all since I changed my habits, and I still push pretty hard on any given day. I still work hard, speak frequently, and travel a great deal, but I prioritize my health while doing so. I stick to my habits and use a great deal of the resources DRI and the DRI Foundation have to offer when I attend our seminars.

I want to encourage others to join me in the journey before you have a wake-up call, too.

WoodsRicardo-21-web DRI for Life Chair Ricardo Woods is a partner at Burr & Forman.


NEW MEMBERS AND ADVOCATES

DRI Welcomes the Following Members and Advocates

New Members

Dorothy Duffy, Plymouth Meeting, PA 
James K. Simms, IV, Franklin, TN 
Stephen Henry Brown, Greenville, SC 
Timothy M. Bliss, Providence, RI 
Myra C. Selby, Indianapolis, IN 
Megan Beth Gramke, Cincinnati, OH 
David C. Van Dyke, Chicago, IL 
Kimberly L. Rivera, Los Angeles, CA 
Yves Lenders, Antwerpen,, Belgium 
Philip P. Keating, Pittsburgh, PA 
Jeffrey K. Finley, San Antonio, TX 
Kelly Bird, Newark, NJ 
Nicole R. Radler, Milwaukee, WI 
Megan Stricker, Cleveland, OH 
Christopher Ryan Jones, Denver, CO 
Seth Hunter, Birmingham, AL 
Cory R. Miller, Nashville, TN 
Kimia Karami, Agoura Hills, CA 
Rob Sniderman, Toronto, ON, Canada 
Brad Poston, Atlanta, GA 
Ewa Rutkowska, Warsaw,, Poland 
Ellen Rose Kosmatka, Waukesha, WI 
Cameron S. Williams, Charlotte, NC 
Fotini Z. Manolakos, Saint Petersburg, FL 
Yasmeen Ebbini, Columbia, SC 
Diana Davis, Parsippany, NJ 
Amira Harmon, Edwardsville, IL 
Sabrina Rodriguez de Conte, Miami, FL 
Meredith McBride, Chicago, IL 
Jonathan Bender, Denver, CO 
Ashley Maxwell, San Diego, CA 
James Harred, Mobile, AL 
Katlin L. Trout, ESQ, Atlantic City, NJ 
Jay Saxon, Birmingham, AL 
Jesse Drawas, Parkland, FL 
Sarah Willey, Kalamazoo, MI 
Morgan Schroeder, Marietta, GA 
Brandon D. Wright, Reno, NV 
Alicja Puchta, Ph.D., Toronto, ON, Canada 
Gregory Bennett, Hawthorne, NY 
Wendy Mellk, New York, NY 
Averie Jones, Birmingham, AL 
Katelyn Gillece, Philadelphia, PA 
Christine Zinter, Portland, OR 
Matthew B. Rogers, Nashville, TN 
Trevor Payton, Indianapolis, IN 
Farwa Tahir, Morristown, NJ 
Noga Baruch, Atlanta, GA 
Samuel Fulkerson, Oklahoma City, OK 
Cheryl Pinarchick, Boston, MA 
Jyoti Halsband, New York, NY 
Gregory Cook, Saint Louis, MO 
Martha Harrison, Norwell, MA 
Anthony Herman, Owings Mills, MD 
Trinity Morale, New Orleans, LA 
Nicholaus A. Hancock, Tulsa, OK 
Lieselotte Margaret Carmen-Burks, Nashville, TN 
Paul W. Verner, New York, NY 
David A. Rosenberg, Washington, DC 
Karyn DeLynn Heiss, Overland Park, KS 
Chase E. Stutenroth, V, Chicago, IL 
Kristopher Keys, Chicago, IL 
Samantha Rhayem, Fort Lauderdale, FL 
Sara M. Butler, Milwaukee, WI 
Bellonne Pierre-Canel, New York, NY 
Hayley Hollis, Portland, OR 
Aaron Lang, Charlotte, NC 
Sarah Beth Cain, Charlotte, NC 
Marshall Jones, Charlotte, NC 
Adrian P. Carter, Florence, SC 
Evan Michael Blonigen, Denver, CO 
Medjine Desrosiers-Douyon, Hobbs, NM 
Alexander J. Verdugo, Chicago, IL 
Mark Rusin, Wheaton, IL 
Camilla F. DeBoard, Greensboro, NC 
Shelby Ross, Trumbull, CT 
Taylor Petty, Spartanburg, SC 
Justin M. Moffitt, Charleston, SC 
Matthew Cowherd, Washington, DC 
Zachary Hoskins, Louisville, KY 
Christopher Meeks, Atlanta, GA 
Andrew Sonricker, Raleigh, NC 
Khaleed Mawji, Toronto, 
Carys Arvidson, San Francisco, CA 
Masallay Komrabai-Kanu, Indianapolis, IN 
Jade Yasso, Auburn Hills, MI 
Steven Vickery, Atlanta, GA 
Yanai Z. Siegel, Monroe Township, NJ
 

Advocates

D. Larry Kristinik, III, Columbia, SC
Daniel R. McCune, Denver, CO
Grant Worden, Toronto, ON
James J. Noonan, Bridgeport, CT
Elizabeth Marie Winchell, Minneapolis, MN
Jean Ohman Back, Portland, OR
Melanie V. Slaton, Columbus, GA
Nickisha M. Woodward, Charleston, SC
Ricardo A. Woods, Mobile, AL
Robert P. Coffey, Jr., Tulsa, OK
Valerie Chacon, Hobbs, NM
Anna Elyse Hamel, Charlotte, NC
Brian C. Neal, Nashville, TN
Jake T. MacKay, Vestavia, AL
Ann Motl, Minneapolis, MN
Eileen E. Buholtz, Rochester, NY
James W. Kraus, Pittsburgh, PA
Jonathan R. Harwood, Hawthorne, NY
Laura M. Lyons, Middleton, WI
Matthew G. Moffett, Atlanta, GA
Michael B.T. Wilkes, Spartanburg, SC
Richard J. Cino, Berkeley, NJ
Sara M. Turner, Birmingham, AL
Steven Gerber, Fairfield, NJ
Teri H. Peeples, Allendale, NJ

DRI EDUCATION

Upcoming Seminars and Webinars

2024 Drug and Medical Device Seminar

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

2024 Employment and Labor Law Seminar

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

2024 DRI International Seminar

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

2024 Diversity for Success Seminar

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

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.

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!

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.


Know the Role: The Ethics of AI in the Law

June 19 | 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.

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

"Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all." —Erik Erikson