Litigation Institute 2015 Schedule Announced

Kathleen St. John

Kathleen St. John

Kathleen is CATA's President and leads the teams responsible for the CATA journal and CATA's Litigation Institute.Kathleen is a partner at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, where she is chair of the appellate, research, and writing department.
Kathleen St. John

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Dear CATA Members:

Please join CATA for the 2015 Litigation Institute on Friday, April 24, 2015, from 8:00 am – 4:20 pm.  This year’s program is entitled “Hot Topics & Persuasive Techniques,” with a line-up of great topics and speakers.  See the Litigation Institute 2015 Brochure for the lineup and signup.

 Our morning topics include:

“Does the Affordable Care Act Affect or Limit Future Damages?”

The Affordable Care Act’s promise of universal health care has caused some defense attorneys to move to limit future damages to the cost of annual premiums.  Is there merit to these and related arguments defendants are starting to make in catastrophic injury cases?  Brenda M. Johnson, Esq. explores these and related arguments and provides tips for opposing them.

“Shhhh… Confidentiality Clauses in Settlement Agreements”

Can a defense attorney ethically stop you from talking about your recent, humongous settlement?  Can you at least get paid for your silence?  Brian N. Eisen, Esq. tackles these and other questions raised by confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements.

“Fighting Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Cases”

In the wake of Marmet Health Care Center, Inc. v. Brown, 132 S.Ct. 1201 (2012) and Hayes v. Oakridge Home, 122 Ohio St.3d 63 (2009, are arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts still assailable?  Nancy C. Iler, Esq. explores ways to defeat arbitration agreements signed by patients or their family members upon admitting the patient to the nursing home.

“College Athletes’ Rights to their Names, Images, and Likenesses and the O’Bannon v. NCAA Class Action Litigation”

The NCAA’s rules prohibit college athletes from receiving financial remuneration from their names, images, and likenesses (NILs).  Yet billions of dollars are made every year by the NCAA and its member bowls, colleges, and universities, who sell these NILs even though they never gain title to them.  Richard G. Johnson, Esq. discusses the O’Bannon v. NCAA class action litigation contesting this paradigm and provides insight as to the direction future litigation might take, as a slew of class actions are lining up to contest the exploitation of college athletes.

Our afternoon topic consists of a three hour interactive presentation:

Ben Sachs of The Landing Group is presenting on advanced communication techniques for managing clients & witnesses.

Ben Sachs of The Landing Group is presenting on advanced communication techniques for managing clients & witnesses.

By special guest speaker, Ben Sachs, Esq., of The Landing Group, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Viriginia Law School.  His 3 hour interactive presentation is called:  “Adaptive Influence for Lawyers:  Advanced Communication Techniques for Managing Clients & Witnesses.”

Traditional public speaking focuses on crafting a message of broad appeal to a diverse audience; however, these principles start to break down when applied to an audience of one.  When managing a critical client or key witness, a skilled attorney must move beyond generic principles of persuasion and instead adopt a strategy of Adaptive Influence, carefully reading the other person and adapting the message and the delivery to land the point.

This seminar will teach you how to get inside the mind of another person and reach a deeper level of influence.  Ben Sachs will lead an interactive presentation exploring psychological, rhetorical, and behavioral models that explain how individuals connect with others and process information, allowing you to become a more persuasive, adaptable communicator.

You can earn 6 CLE credit hours for attending the full day seminar, which includes a Continental Breakfast and Buffet Lunch.  This year’s program will be held at the Club at Key Center in downtown Cleveland.  Members pay a flat rate of $199.00 — which, for 6 CLE credits and two meals is a fantastic deal!!! Non-members pay $249.00.

Here is the Litigation Institute 2015 Brochure with a registration form.  You can detach the form and mail it in, or fill it in on-line, or just email me with your registration information.

Hope to see you there!

Annual Litigation Institute set for May 30, 2014

CATA is pleased to announce that the Annual Litigation Institute will take place on Friday, May 30, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland.  This year’s seminar will be a full day event titled Story, Groups and Juries: Exploring New (and scary) Frontiers in the Courtroom.  Our guest speakers will be Carl Bettinger and Fredilyn Sison.  Learn about the presenters and see the agenda for the meeting below.

This is an event you will not want to miss!  Registration materials will be available soon.  Please mark your calendars.

Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys

May 30, 2014

Story, Groups and Juries: Exploring New (and scary) Frontiers in the Courtroom

  We’ve all heard the importance of “telling a story”, but  when was the last time anyone helped teach you how?

This program will teach trial attorneys classic story structure and group formation as it relates to trial work, particularly in voir dire, opening and closing. It will be a working, on-your-feet program, utilizing techniques from improvisational acting, classic story telling and psychodrama. During the workshop you will:

*Learn the basic skeleton of the herocentric story

*Explore how the different herocentric roles (hero, villain, victim, mentor, trickster) apply to a trial

*Be introduced to some improv basics – the concept of “Yes, and…”

*Explore, in action, the story spine.

*Explore, in action, how to get a witness off the stand and set a scene in the courtroom

*Be introduced, through the action method, to some new frontiers in voir dire: How to really see who is in front of you; Can you “yes, and…” anything?



Carl Bettinger of Shapiro Bettinger Chase LLP in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has litigated hundreds of personal injury, medical malpractice and nursing home neglect claims.  Author of Twelve Heroes, One Voice: Guiding Jurors to Courageous Verdicts (Trial Guides 2011), he has some of the largest personal injury verdicts in New Mexico, first for $54 million in a 2007 trial involving a ManorCare nursing home and then for $54.1 million in a 2009 trial involving a ResCare group home. He practices and consults in New Mexico and nationally. He focuses on bringing trials alive, utilizing a variety of non-conventional approaches, including those from  improvisational acting, storytelling and psychodrama. In a recent trial, he sang part of his closing. Before attending University of New Mexico Law School, Carl went to medical school at Boston University School of Medicine and then completed an internal medicine residency at The University of New Mexico. In his spare time he goes fishing.

Fredilyn Sison: Fredi is an honors grad of Cornell University and New York University School of Law.  Prior to joining the Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina in the Asheville branch office, she served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Districts of Nebraska, Nevada and Idaho.  In 2005, she was visiting counsel at the Defender Training Branch and at the U.S. Sentencing Commission in Washington, D.C.  She has served on the faculty for the Federal Trial Skills Academy, the Sentencing Advocacy Workshop, 3Sisters Programs, National Advanced Defenders Program, Non-Capital Mitigation Seminar and Orientation Seminar for Federal Defenders.  Fredi co-authored Trial in Action: The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama, has written a chapter on child pornography in Practical Guide for Defending a Federal Case and on Voir Dire in the 3rd edition of Cultural Issues in Criminal Defense, co-wrote and edited chapters on Jury Selection and Foreign Law in Defending a Federal Criminal Case and has published articles on jury selection, cross examination and the effects of incarceration on families in The Champion and The Warrior.  She has been certified as a practitioner in psychodrama (“CP”), which employs guided dramatic action to examine problems and issues raised by individuals and groups.  Her interests include reading, hiking, piano, Improv and dancing.


Course Schedule

8:00 am: Registration

8:30-9:30: Herocentric story structure: The key to trial is story, but in order to understand how to tell a client’s story, the lawyer must first understand the component parts to classic herocentric story structure, as well as the character archetypes in such stories. This part of the course will focus on teaching the participants the nature of three act story structure (ordinary world, new world, climax and return), how the various parts of trial fit within that structure, how to paint the various characters in the case so that the jury will understand them to be Villain, Victim, Mentor or Hero, which, ultimately, is the role we want the jurors to play.

9:30-10:45: Improv exercises to warm up voice and body: As lawyers, our courtroom tools are our voice and our bodies. Of the five ways of communicating (spacework (i.e., engaging in a particular physical activity); movement; emotion; character; and words), lawyers tend to ignore all but words. These exercises will help the participants understand the power of non-verbal communication.

10:45-11:00: Break

11:00-12:00: Story telling exercises in action: This part of the course is designed to show the participants how to discover the stories in their cases through dramatic reenactment techniques that bring the stories alive, thereby not only discovering the stories, but providing the participants with material that can be shown to the jury, as opposed to just told.

12:00-1:00:  Lunch

1:00-2:30: New approaches to voir dire: The average voir dire often  produces nothing other than the resentment of potential jurors who see the attorney before them as trying to manipulate them.  This part of the course will explore techniques from improvisational acting and psychodrama that will provide the participants with new ways to connect with the jurors and to form a group.

2:30-2:45:  Break

2:45-5:00: Cont: New approaches to voir dire: A story which is told is nowhere near as compelling as one that is shown; that is why as kids we did “show and tell”, as opposed to “tell and tell”.  This part of the course will teach the participants the basics of setting dramatic scenes in the courtroom, weaving the same into their Openings and  Closings.