Chris Lam

Christopher C. Lam

Committee Chair Corner: Business Litigation
Chris Lam (, Bradley LLP, Charlotte, NC

Unless your practice is hyper-specialized, chances are you currently have or will soon have a case on your desk that falls under the broad umbrella of the Business Litigation Committee. From Antitrust to Zoning, our members are handling business and commercial disputes involving contracts, business torts, trade secrets, unfair and deceptive trade practices, etc. We are in courts and arbitration tribunals across the United States and around the world. 

Our primary goal within the IADC is to offer programming and publications – through CLE at the Midyear and Annual Meetings and Webinars and regular newsletters – that keep our members up to speed on the latest developments in the law and arm them with tools and strategies to deliver the best results for their clients.

For example, I encourage you to register for the Webinars we are offering in the next two months, including one later this week:

  • In-House Expectations of Outside Counsel: A Peek Behind the Curtain

October 18 (12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CDT) – Registration is currently open at

Outside counsel and their in-house counterparts are each searching to develop a fruitful and mutually prosperous relationship. This Webinar will offer a peek behind the curtain into the expectations of the corporate counsel doing the hiring. It will address questions such as:

1) How specialized does corporate counsel expect their outside litigation counsel to be? Is it better to be all things or something more narrowcast?
2) What can a business litigator do to be more than a “one hit wonder?”
3) How do corporate counsel feel about outside counsel revealing wins and losses in order to market themselves to other potential clients? Do war stories and win/loss records persuade in-house counsel to purchase services – or is it off-putting?
4) What are the worst things outside counsel do, and why do they keep doing it?

Speakers: Michael Higginbotham, Fed Ex Ground Package System, Inc.; Alexandra Simotta, SIX Payment Services (Austria) Gmblt; and Carl A. Aveni, Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP (Moderator)

  • Alternative Fee Arrangements: Bespoke or Broken?

November 15 (12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CST) – Look for the registration announcement at the end of the month.

Alternative fee agreements offer greater flexibility for corporate clients and outside counsel alike. But their lack of regular recurring structures can create misunderstandings, frustration, and risk on both sides of the equation. This presentation will look at both the opportunities and the problems that can arise when parties leave the standard billing rates behind. What works? What must you avoid at all costs? How will a carefully crafted agreement anticipate opportunities and defuse potential disagreements down the road?

Speakers: Joseph Milcoff, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. and Sandra Wunderlich, Tucker Ellis LLP

Business Litigation is also a sponsor or co-sponsor for seven programs at the 2018 Midyear Meeting in February at which we hope to see all of you:

  • Coverage Issues for Non-Coverage Counsel: A Simple Primer for Issue-Spotting Some Complex Stuff
  • Innovations in ADR
  • Civil Litigation in the “Post Truth” Era: Defending Against Motivated Reasoning
  • Waking Your Jury Up with Creative Demonstrative Exhibits
  • Is Your Civil Client in Danger of Criminal Charges?
  • The Entertainment Industry: What Keeps In-House Counsel Up at Night?
  • Issues Beyond Expertise - A History of Daubert and Other Details that Drive Interactions Between Litigators and Experts

If you would like to participate in programming at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Lisbon, please submit your proposals for Committee programs to me or Carl Aveni before the November 15 deadline.

In addition to regular programming, our Committee is undertaking two “special projects” this year to provide all IADC members with relevant and useful resources for their practice.

  • 50 State/International Survey on Attorney-Client Privilege and Corporate Employees

The Committee will conduct a survey of the rule of each state and several countries with respect to communications with employees and former employees (e.g. subject matter, control group, undecided). The final product will likely be a bulleted “handbook” that references the relevant statute/rule/leading case(s). This will be a quick resource for both outside and inside counsel and of particular help to those who may have business operations in multiple states and countries. 

We are soliciting volunteers to take one or more states/countries and prepare no more than a paragraph or couple of bullets setting forth the applicable rule and standard with a cite to the appropriate authority.

Fellow IADC and Business Litigation Committee member Todd Presnell, author of the leading privilege blog Presnell on Privileges, has offered to serve as “Editor-in-Chief” to conform everything into a digestible and useful format.

We already have volunteers for several states and countries, but have many more to fill. Please respond to me with which forums you (or a colleague) are willing to take on.

  • Alternative Fee Arrangement Toolkit

The second project dovetails with the aforementioned Webinar and recognizes the growing trend of clients seeking fee arrangements other than the traditional billable hour. All of us have heard discussions about AFAs ad infinitum, but there is divergent experience in actually using AFAs and in understanding the many different forms such arrangements can take. Therefore, we seek to create a glossary of different AFAs and include sample engagement letter templates related to each arrangement.

If you have particular experience or interest in AFAs, please contact me to volunteer to help contribute to this project.

Finally, I want to recognize the fantastic slate of committee Vice Chairs who have worked hard to help us be productive and who would undoubtedly welcome more volunteers for newsletters, programs, Webinars, and membership nominations!

  • Programs and Projects: Carl Aveni
  • Membership: Natalie Furniss
  • Publications: Mark Hansen
  • Webinar: Dixie Wells
  • Corporate Counsel: Trea Southerland
  • Diversity: Dawn Sugihara
  • International: Eric Azran
  • Communications: Chip Magid

If all of this looks interesting to you and helpful to your practice, I invite you to be an active member of the Business Litigation Committee and join our monthly conference calls which are held the first Thursday of each month at 10:00 CST.

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