The Verdict? A Very Successful Civil Trial Conference
One of this Law School’s most noteworthy legacies is its production of many of the region’s most outstanding trial lawyers. The legacy was fully evident on Friday, November 6, 2009 at the Civil Trial Evidence and Litigation Conference. The sold-out event served as a “last call for Sensenbrenner Hall” of sorts while featuring a panel that well-represented the many fine trial lawyers who have distinguished themselves as Marquette lawyers. It was my privilege to help organize the conference along with Pat Dunphy (L’76), who conceived of the idea and was the key to assembling the talented panel of Marquette alumni. In light of Friday’s success, Pat and I have already begun discussing next year’s civil litigation conference, which will be held in the Law School’s new venue in Eckstein Hall.
The presentations spanned a broad array of issues and problems regularly confronted in civil litigation. The strength of the presentations rested not just in their discussion of doctrine and rules, but in the panelists bringing to bear their experience and insights in preparing and trying cases. Links to the written CLE material and the accompanying PowerPoint presentations will be posted on the Law School’s website later this week.
Starting the day was Michael J. Cohen (L’86) of Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols SC, who underscored the important relationship between pretrial practice and outcomes at trial. Drawing on his extensive experience as a commercial litigator, Mike addressed the duty to preserve evidence, especially electronic information, when a lawsuit appears on the horizon. Mike emphasized the need to work with the client to understand what the law requires so that discoverable information is not destroyed, inadvertently or otherwise, thereby exposing the client (or counsel) to sanctions. Pat Dunphy (L’76) of Cannon & Dunphy SC, addressed a different aspect of pretrial practice, namely, the creative use of requests to admit during discovery. Pat described how he used requests to admit to obtain a binding judicial admission in a major product liability case that proved determinative of its outcome.