NYSBA Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter
Vol. 23, No. 1
On November 14, 2016, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section highlighted its ongoing women's initiative with the presentation of its first annual Shira A. Scheindlin Award for Excellence in the Courtroom and Trial Practice CLE program. The Section's women's initiative is designed to increase the ranks of women in lead litigation roles within the New York state and federal courts, after numerous high-profile articles in legal publications emphasized the significant underrepresentation of women lawyers in the courtroom. The women's initiative was spearheaded by all seven female former Section Chairs—The Honorable Shira Scheindlin (Stroock, Stroock & Lavan LLP); Bernice Leber (Arent Fox LLP); Sharon Porcellio (Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC); Lauren Wachtler (Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP); Lesley Friedman Rosenthal (General Counsel, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts); Carrie H. Cohen (Morrison & Foerster LLP); and Tracee Davis (Zeichner Ellman & Krause LLP).
The Trial Practice CLE program was an entertaining and instructive re-enactment of an actual commercial trial conducted in the Southern District of New York before Hon. Shira Scheindlin, and showcased methods for creating compelling opening and closing statements and conducting tactical examinations of witnesses. The actual trial transcript was edited and enhanced to highlight key aspects of the parties' openings and closings and witness examinations. In the reenactment, Judge Scheindlin reprised her role as presiding judge, and several of the Section's former chairs, who are an experienced trial lawyers, paired off on behalf of the plaintiff against several competitively selected mid-level female litigation associates at New York law firms, who represented the defense side of the case. The associate participants were: Arma Badalian (Ballon, Stoll, Bader & Nadler P.C.); Erica Barrow (Baker & Hostetler LLP); Jaclyn Grodin (Olshan, Frome & Wolosky LLP); Adrienne Hollander (Arent Fox LLP); Miriam Manber (Hoguet, Newman, Regal & Kenney LLP); and Alisha McCarthy (Foley & Lardner LLP). The trial re-enactment was followed by a discussion among the CLE presenters and participants, who shared their trial strategy, advice, and insights with the audience.
Overall, the trial re-enactment CLE format received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, and the Section intends to continue other programming in this vein in order to increase the representation and enhance the visibility of women in the courtroom, as well as to encourage young women 1awyers to consider litigation as a viable and rewarding career option.