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Mark Behrens, Civil Justice Response Committee Chair

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Mark Behrens

Committee Chair Corner - Civil Justice Response Committee
Mark Behrens
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P.
mbehrens@shb.com

The Civil Justice Response (CJR) Committee provides members with an opportunity to help shape the legal environment and keep abreast of civil justice developments. The CJR Committee also plays an important role in the IADC’s visibility effort.

Over the past few months, the Committee has been active in an effort led by Lawyers for Civil Justice to oppose a proposed amendment to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) that would require parties to confer about “the identity of each person the organization will designate to testify.”

In January of 2019, the IADC filed a comment urging the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules to remove any requirement that parties must confer about the “identity of each person the organization will designate to testify.” The IADC, its sister organizations, and the business community have taken the position that an organization should not have to confer with an adverse party about the identity of the person who will speak for and bind the organization.

In February, I testified before the Advisory Committee on the IADC’s behalf. Other IADC members and lawyers representing defense interests expressed their concerns with the proposal too. The Committee was told that the proposed amendment is flawed and that it should be withdrawn and reworked. We will continue to press the IADC’s position going forward.

The IADC has also supported efforts to amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require the disclosure of third-party litigation funding arrangements. Most recently, in March of 2019, the IADC joined the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and numerous civil justice and defense bar organizations in a letter to the federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee. The letter reiterated our joint support for an amendment to Rule 26(a)(1) to require that plaintiffs’ initial disclosures include any third-party litigation funding agreements.

In recent years, the IADC filed a comment written by current IADC Board Member Stephanie Rippee of Watkins & Eager PLLC in Jackson, Mississippi that led the Mississippi Supreme Court to reject a plaintiff lawyer proposal to adopt a federal Rule 23-like class action procedure for Mississippi state courts. In addition, the IADC helped stall an unsound ABA proposal to allow non-lawyer ownership of law firms and helped block a proposed Washington State federal court local rule that would have disadvantaged insurers in mediation.

If you become aware of opportunities to advocate for the interests of IADC members on civil justice issues, please let the Committee know so we can act.

Monthly Calls

We have calls on the first Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m. U.S. Central time. We share information about state and federal legislation and court rule proposals in the U.S. We also discuss international developments.

Listserv

We do frequent postings to keep CJR Committee members informed about civil justice developments. We also share news stories and research reports that address civil justice issues. Please go the IADC website and make sure you are on the CJR Committee listserv to receive communications.

Programming

We develop Webinars and other programming for IADC members. 

If you have an idea for a Webinar, please reach out to our Vice Chair of Webinars, Lee Mickus of Taylor Anderson LLP in Denver, Colorado, lmickus@talawfirm.com.

Newsletters

We are looking for members to write Newsletters or contribute to the Defense Counsel Journal. In recent months we have published several newsletters and a Defense Counsel Journal article. If you have an idea for an article, please contact our Vice Chair of Publications, Phil Goldberg of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P. in Washington, DC, pgoldberg@shb.com.

Special Projects

If you have an idea for a special project, please contact our Vice Chair of Programs and Projects, Leah Lorber of GlaxoSmithKline in Washington, DC, leah.l.lorber@gsk.com.

International

Gord McKee of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, Ontario Canada, gordon.mckee@blakes.com, is our Vice Chair of International. We are working to expand the Committee’s global reach. 

Insurance

Fred Schaefer of Nationwide Indemnity in Wausau, Wisconsin, SCHAEFF@nationwide.com, is Vice Chair of Insurance. He alerts us to issues of importance to the insurance industry and is working to increase our visibility in the industry.

Corporate Counsel

We have active participation from in-house counsel. Recently, our recruiting efforts—led by Vice Chair of Membership, Michele Smith of MehaffyWeber in Beaumont, Texas, MicheleSmith@mehaffyweber.com—have focused on increasing the number of in-house counsel on the Committee. We have developed strong in-house participation. We have also added a number of leaders of key U.S.-based civil justice organizations to our roster. Corporate counsel interested in learning more about the Committee are encouraged to contact our Vice Chair of Corporate Counsel, Molly Jones of Bayer U.S. in St. Louis, Missouri, molly.jones@bayer.com.

Diversity

Diversity is important to the IADC and important to our Committee. New IADC member Ashley Garry of Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Indiana, ashley_garry@lilly.com, is our Vice Chair of Diversity. Ashley will help ensure that our recruiting and programming includes diverse attorneys. If you know of diverse attorneys who are interested in civil justice issues, please let us know so that we can reach out to them to join the IADC and/or the CJR Committee.

Communications

Our Committee likes to share good news and disseminate information as a benefit to members. Leigh Ann Schell of Adams & Reese LLP in New Orleans, Louisiana, leighann.schell@arlaw.com is our Vice Chair of Communications. Please contact Leigh Ann if you need help getting your message out.

Finally, if you have thoughts about how our Committee can serve the IADC better, please let us know. We welcome input from all. Feel free to contact me at mbehrens@shb.com.
 

 

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