Committee Chair Corner – Product Liability Committee
Crowell & Moring LLP
I am honored to step into the shoes of my predecessor Jessie Zeigler and assume the Chair role for the Product Liability Committee this year. I joined the IADC in 2015 and quickly found this organization to be far different from other legal networking groups I have been part of. The integration of families and children, the ease with which I could participate in presentations, the wonderful emphasis on friendships and relationships, and many other aspects of the IADC have made me wish I had joined twenty years ago. My thanks go out to the many individuals who supported me early on, when I knew almost no one, and to those who helped open doors that have led to this role.
The Product Liability Committee is the largest Committee in the IADC. Its members are engaged in IADC work and serve many prominent roles in the organization. Our members include key players in virtually every major product litigation in the news today – talc, glyphosate, PFAS, drinking water, consumer protection, false advertising, asbestos, and many other legal fronts. We also have a strong contingent of in-house and international members who contribute mightily to our efforts. We intersect on a regular basis with other Committees, including Trial Techniques and Tactics, Drug, Device, and Biotechnology, Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation, Appellate Practice, Class Action and Multi-Party Litigation, Civil Justice Response, and more.
Let me introduce our Vice Chairs for this year – this group is not only talented, but the Vice Chairs provide some of the strongest support and input for the IADC and the Committee:
Programming – Cheryl Woodin
Webinars – Whitney Frazier Watt
Journal – Curtis Ott
Communications – Kirsten Abel
Special Projects – Jaimme Collins
Newsletters – Daniel Higginbotham
Diversity – Sylvie Gallage-Alweis
Membership – Mary Anne Mellow
International – Tim Sperling
Corporate Counsel – Ted O’Toole
Most of the work the Committee does is led by this stellar group in conjunction with the extremely talented and friendly staff at the IADC. For those of you interested in joining the Product Liability Committee or becoming more involved, here are the activities we regularly engage in throughout the year. There is an open door to new members to participate, so please feel free to reach out if you have an interest or ideas to contribute.
Midyear/Annual Meetings and CLE Programming
The Product Liability Committee is very active in presenting CLE programs at both our Midyear and Annual meetings. The meetings are terrific networking opportunities and where we form most of the friendships on which the IADC is built. Jessie Zeigler started a wonderful tradition of hosting a dinner for all Product Liability Committee members in attendance – about 50 of us rocked the restaurant in Asheville. I plan to blatantly steal that idea and continue the festivities in Pebble Beach.
The Midyear and Annual Meeting CLE presentations are the primary programming activity for the Committee. These presentations are great opportunities to build your platform and contribute your knowledge to the members. Examples of past programs are on the website. But to whet your interest for the upcoming Midyear, the Product Liability Committee will present the following three major CLE programs at Pebble Beach in February:
A Deep Dive into Digital Evidence and Emerging Trends in Digital Forensics, co-sponsored by the Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation and Trial Techniques and Tactics Committees.
The Mounting Attack on Company Sponsored Science, Speech, and Experts – co-sponsored by the Toxic and Hazardous Substances Ligitation, Drug Device and Biotechnology, In-House and Law Firm Management, and Civil Justice Response Committees.
Politics as Usual: How to Deal with Political Acts Around the World that Cause Disruption to Clients’ Business Activities and Impair Their Legal Rights, co-sponsored by the Business Litigation and Intellectual Property Committees.
Our program presenters are some of the top practitioners around the world. They bring a wealth of knowledge and lively presentation skills to these programs. My thanks to all of you who have and will contribute on this front. If you have programming ideas, please contact Cheryl Woodin at WoodinC@bennettjones.com.
Our second avenue for personal presentations is the IADC’s Webinar program. The Webinars are regular, one-hour slide plus audio presentations that you can present from your own desk. Members typically present on breaking topics or on general training issues. We have two Webinars on the current calendar:
If you would like to submit a Webinar proposal, please contact Whitney Frazier Watt at email@example.com.
The Committee’s goal is to contribute at least one newsletter every month to the IADC website. Newsletters are short pieces (2-6 pages) without the need for detailed citation, and the subject matter is wide-ranging. The IADC often markets newsletters to other publications such as Westlaw’s Toxic Tort Journal. Our Vice Chair of Newsletters, Daniel Higginbotham, has several newsletters lined up but we are always interested in more. Newsletters are an easy way to get yourself started with the IADC, so contact Daniel at DHigginbotham@tcspllc.com if you would like to commit to an upcoming month.
Defense Counsel Journal/Special Projects
The IADC publishes a law review entitled the Defense Counsel Journal, and Product Liability Committee members regularly contribute articles. This year, the Product Liability Committee is sponsoring a special edition of the Journal in April that will be devoted entirely to Product Liability generated and focused articles. Three articles are in the pipeline, and we need two to three more to complete the issue. This effort is a combined project led by our Journal Vice Chair, Curtis Ott (firstname.lastname@example.org), and our Special Projects Vice Chair, Jaimme Collins (Jaimme.Collins@arlaw.com). Please contact one of them if you have an article in mind and would like to contribute.
Our other Vice Chairs are also active in promoting Committee membership, ensuring vital communications among us, leading in diversity, and watching out for our international and corporate members.
Even if you cannot make the meetings, please consider participating in our monthly calls on the first Monday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Central Time. The calls are efficiently run, usually 30 minutes, and we cover upcoming activities, opportunities, new members, and current events in the product liability world. Watch for invitations for the calls from Diana Leon at IADC.
If you are new to the party, welcome to the IADC. And if you practice in or near the world of product liability, please give us a try. We can assist you in building out your network and extending your profile, and we have a lot of fun on the way.