PreTrial Litigation

B564 is taught by E. Boshkoff, M. Rosiello, A. Tanford

In todays litigation world, where only a miniscule percentage of civil cases actually go to trial, litigators devote the vast bulk of their time and effort to pretrial proceedings. This course will address those aspects of civil litigation from the pleadings through summary judgment and settlement negotiations. We will look in detail at the real-world issues that arise in pretrial litigation, with the goal of understanding best litigation practices to achieve the most favorable outcome for the client.

The framework of the course will be a close examination of the meaning and use in practice of the relevant Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, along with cases and articles dealing with specific litigation issues. We will also discuss some of the Rules of Professional Conduct that apply to the conduct of litigation.

In addition to the class sessions, the course will have three short writing assignments and two out-of-class clinical exercises, a witness interview and a deposition, with review of the students performance by experienced lawyers.

The course will be graded based on class participation and the out-of-class assignments. There will be no final exam.

The general topics in the course will be: Structure of a Civil Lawsuit; Interviewing the Client; Preliminary Case Evaluation and Initial Disclosures (writing assignment prepare outline of initial investigation based on complaint); Pleadings and Motions to Dismiss; Interviewing Witnesses (clinical exercise conduct a 30-minute witness interview); Written Discovery; Introduction to Electronic Discovery; Depositions (writing assignment prepare outlines of deposition issues and witness interrogation; clinical exercise take a 30-minute deposition); Pretrial Proceedings from the Federal Magistrates Perspective; Introduction to Expert Witness Issues; Use of Expert Evidence in Pretrial Proceedings; Summary Judgment (writing assignment draft an opinion on a summary judgment motion, deciding whether there is a genuine dispute of material fact); Managing Pretrial Litigation; Settlement and Mediation: What the Client Wants and Needs; Settlement: Negotiating with the Other Side; Settlement: Preparing the Settlement Documents; Pretrial Proceedings: The View from the Bench.

Evidence is a prerequisite.