Happy New Year!



Can you believe it?  Its 2015!  Where does the time go.  It seems like just yesterday, DRI’s Membership Committee published its first Member Blog on DRI Happenings (dri.org/drihappenings.com).  I can’t believe it’s been two years.  The Member Blog was started because we (the Membership Committee) wanted to find a way to reach you to tell you about all of the great benefits that come with being a DRI member.  We started with bi-weekly posts every other Thursday.  The blog is a tool to help you (whether a new member or an old member) navigate the waters of DRI to ensure you get what you want out of your DRI membership.

Since the Member Blog has been such a huge success, we decided to expand our posting schedule.  Beginning in April, we will post a blog that that will give you the answers to some of the most often asked questions about your DRI membership.  We will provide useful information about the various substantive law committees (i.e., upcoming seminars, the structure of the committee and ideas for how to get involved) and the work we are doing with your state and local defense organizations.  We will continue to highlight some of the best features of a DRI Membership including DRI Communities (launched in 2014), DRI On-Line, DRI Happenings, DRI Today, For the Defense, In-House Quarterly, the DRI Directory and DRI’s Expert Witness Data Base.  We will also explain why a membership is beneficial for practitioners at both small and large firms.  You can check back with us to hear about what great things DRI members are doing to make DRI a success and let them tell you how DRI has helped them in their careers.

Our theme in 2015 is “DRI Membership: Its Personal.”  So, in 2015, we want to hear from you.  Share your stories with us.  Let us know how DRI has helped you personally.  Tell us about your successes, the friends you made, the doors your membership has opened, and why you continue to renew your membership year after year.

On behalf of the Membership Committee, we would like to thank you for your support in 2014 and wish you a very happy and healthy new year.  We look forwarding to sharing our knowledge with you and hearing from you soon!

Jennifer Muse, Anderson, McPharlin, & Conners, LLP – Los Angeles, CA

The 12 Gifts of DRI Membership



As we enter the holiday season, I am reminded of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  My five year old daughter is a huge fan of the version by Straight No Chaser.  If you have not heard it, you should stop now and take a listen.  Anyway, in celebration of this holiday season, I give you “The Twelve Gifts of DRI.”

12.       Free Membership in DRI’s 29 Substantive Law Committees

If you are like most people, you practice in more than one area and in DRI you can join as many substantive law committees as you like at no additional charge.  Since you are reading this you must be at least a part-time commercial litigator (or hope to be).  But – do you try cases?  If so, check out the Trial Tactics Committee – for free.  Do you deal with e-discovery? Poor you. Why not try out DRI’s e-discovery committee?  DRI’s substantive law committees really do offer something for everyone.  Log in to www.dri.org (call DRI at (312) 795-1101 if you need help with your log-in information) and then click here to try out a new committee or two in 2014. Did I mention they are free?

11.       For the Defense Magazine

Every month, DRI publishes a fabulous, full-color, glossy magazine (delivered right to your real mailbox) designed to help you, the defense practitioner, stay on top of new developments in the law.  If you are not into paper magazines, you can even download the new DRI App and get FTD every month right on your tablet.  Now that we no longer have to turn off our iPads and other devices on airplanes you will never be without great DRI content while you are on the go.  What to do with the paper magazine then?  Give it to a colleague and share the gift of DRI with them!

10.       Referrals – The DRI Membership Database

Did you know that as a DRI member, you have a place to create your very own profile?  DRI’s online membership directory allows you to create a profile that is searchable by others.  Just log in to www.dri.org and click on “edit profile” in the upper right hand corner where you see your log-in name.  Then fill in your profile.  That’s all you have to do.  You can even add your picture.  Last year more than 10,000 people visited DRI’s online directory of members each month looking for lawyers just like you.  Update your profile today!

9.         Free Legal Research Tools

DRI Online is available to DRI members only and it houses past and present issues of For the Defense magazine, seminar materials, articles from Defense Library Series publications, substantive law committee newsletters and more.  It is a great starting point for research on new issues in a case or on an emerging area of law and it is free!  Log into www.dri.org and try it out now!

8.         CLE at Right From Your Desk

DRI sponsors numerous webcasts every year covering all kinds of different substantive practice areas.  These webcasts are a great value at only $150 per site.  This means you can invite your entire office to watch the webcast (maybe even pop some popcorn) and everyone can earn CLE credit for only $150.  Check out the current webcast offerings here.  If you missed a webcast, or need emergency credit (come on, we’ve all been there) you can order a DRI webcast on demand!  DRI is just as fancy as your local cable or satellite provider and way more economical.

7.         DRI Keeps You in the Know

You can get all the legal news you can shake a stick at right on the DRI Today webpage. You can even make it your home page so you never miss a thing.  You can filter the news by the topic(s) in which you are interested and find everything from insurance law to class actions and medical liability to expert witnesses.  You can find it all at DRI Today with just a quick search. And it’s free too!

6.         Amazing Seminars and CLE Opportunities

DRI’s bread and butter has always been, and continues to be, affordable, high-quality CLE.  DRI is the leading provider of defense-oriented education in this country offering dozens of seminars all over the nation every year on timely and important topics in the areas in which its members practice. You can check out all of DRI’s seminar offerings here.  The highlight of the year for DRI is its Annual Meeting held each fall in October.  If you have never attended an Annual Meeting before, mark your calendar now for October 22-25, 2014 and join 1,100+ of your favorite defense colleagues in San Francisco, California.

5.         Help Retaining and Researching Expert Witnesses

DRI maintains a free expert witness database for its members.  Through the database you can locate an expert for your case, research the opposing party’s expert, research an expert you are considering retaining and more.  In addition, DRI has formed a strategic partnership with the legal research professionals of Expert Witness Profiler. Your membership in DRI now offers you the most comprehensive background profile of an individual expert witness on the market today.  There is a fee for this service, but you will also receive enhancements to which only DRI members are entitled.  Finally, Thomson Reuters Expert Witness Services and DRI have also joined forces to create Expert Intelligence Reports for DRI members that will seamlessly integrate the combined expert resources of both DRI and Thomson Reuters Expert Witness Services into a single interactive and comprehensive report detailing an expert’s background and history.  Check it out here.  Again there is a fee for this service, but it is significantly discounted for DRI members.

4.         Influence on Law & Public Policy

The DRI Center for Law and Public Policy provides a meaningful voice for the defense bar in the national discussion of substantive law and constitutional issues as well as the integrity of the judicial system through scholarship, legal expertise and advocacy.  It is a voice that is heard through published research materials, amicus briefs, practical tools and resources, and creative public education initiatives. The New York Times recently cited DRI’s amicus work as part of the growing influence of business on the United States Supreme Court.  DRI advocates for its members and its members’ clients and is a strong voice in the shaping of law and policy across the country.  “What has DRI done for me and my clients lately” you might ask.  Well, here is a great place to start in answering that question.  Additionally, DRI is a strong supporter of the National Foundation of Judicial Excellence.  The mission of the NFJE is to address important legal policy issues affecting the law and civil justice system by providing meaningful support and education to the judiciary, by publishing scholarly works and by engaging in other efforts to continually enhance and ensure judicial excellence and fairness for all engaged in the judicial process.  To carry out its mission, the NFJE holds an Annual Judicial Symposium each summer and pays the costs of attendance for appellate judges from across the country.

3.         DRI Neutrals Database

Do you need a mediator?  An arbitrator?  Search no further.  DRI can help.  Just log in to www.dri.org and search the DRI Neutrals Database for free.  DRI has partnered with the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals to provide defense firms with the foremost national roster of experienced and vetted civil mediators and arbitrators available. DRI’s Neutrals Database allows DRI members to view state rosters, perform a more detailed search by practice expertise, or see which neutrals are recommended by your fellow DRI colleagues.

2.         Leadership Opportunities Galore

As you can no doubt see, DRI has a lot going on and it is all in the name of helping its members.  As a direct result, DRI has lots of opportunities for its members to take on leadership roles in exciting projects, committees and initiatives.  In fact, even as I type this, I am in need of a membership vice chair on the Commercial Litigation Committee!  We have other openings for new leaders too!  The opportunities to lead are nearly limitless and range from serving as a writer for a publication or an editor of a committee newsletter to serving as a webcast or seminar chair to serving as a main stage speaker at the DRI Annual Meeting.  If you are passionate about serving in an organization committed to furthering the defense practice, we have a spot for you.  Keep calm and lead on.

1.         Business Development & Networking

Finally, nothing says “Happy Holidays” like getting new business, right?  Even Lucy in the old Peanuts cartoon knows this.  DRI’s entire Annual Meeting theme this year was on making it rain and growing a book of business.  DRI’s seminars provide numerous and meaningful networking opportunities including cocktail receptions, dine arounds, committee meetings, receptions for women and attorneys of diverse backgrounds and even events specifically for young lawyers and in-house counsel. Personally, my biggest source of new business comes from colleagues I have met through DRI.  The cost of DRI membership for most folks is about $300.  The average cost to attend a couple of DRI seminars a year is roughly $5,000 (registration and travel).  If you only get one case in 10 years that bills only $50,000, you will have repaid yourself nearly every dime of your investment in DRI.  I submit to you that somewhere over the course of that 10 years, with a solid commitment to DRI you will have not only had a great time and learned a lot, but you will also have networked and met many, many more people from all over the country than you can even imagine.  Such efforts will likely result in more than one case coming your way over the course of the next 10 years.  Do the math on DRI.  If you make a firm commitment to getting involved over the next 10 years, you won’t be sorry.  Make DRI your New Year’s Resolution in 2014.

And there you have it – The Twelve Gifts of DRI Membership.  So, who are you going to give the gift of membership to this year?  Decide and then send me an e-mail (lmiller@jacksonkelly.com) and I will help you give a gift that truly lasts all year.  I will personally make you (I’m crafty like that) a DRI membership gift announcement (suitable for wrapping and gifting) that you can put under someone’s tree.  Really!  Just don’t wait until Dec 24th to contact me.  I don’t do rush orders and I may strongly resemble the Grinch upon receiving your message.

Happy Holidays to everyone – no matter which holiday you celebrate.  May this season bring you peace, happiness, joy and lots and lots of new business.

Laurie K. Miller - Jackson Kelly PLLC, Charleston, WV


Navigating DRI’s Commercial Litigation Committee


How can you maximize the value of your DRI membership in the Commercial Litigation Committee?  As Woody Allen famously said, “eighty percent of success is showing up.”  In other words, show up and get involved.  As you know, DRI has many wonderful benefits for members who do not actively participate in the committees, including the expert witness database, great CLE programs, For The Defense magazine, and many other great offerings.  However, to truly get the benefits of your membership, network with interesting, fun and knowledgeable lawyers, and ultimately, grow your business, you have to get involved.

The Commercial Litigation Committee has many opportunities for its members to become active.  A fairly simple way to raise your profile in the Committee is to become involved in one the Substantive Law Groups.  At present, the CLC offers the following SLGs for its members: Class Actions; Complex Litigation; Financial Institutions; Computer Fraud/Information Security; Pretrial Practice and Anti-Trust/Consumer Protection; as well as three other global subcommittees, Networking, Mentoring and Diversity.  Each of these SLGs provides a chance for members to take on a role on the SLG’s committee, such as membership, publications and the DRI Community page for the CLC.  Involvement in the SLGs raises your profile in the CLC, leading to greater opportunities for advancement in the Committee.

Another great opportunity to become involved with the CLC is participating in the development and marketing of the CLC’s annual seminar on Business Litigation.  In 2015 the CLC is teaming with the International Committee and putting on a seminar in Toronto, Canada June 4-5.  While the seminar planning is complete, there are opportunities to get involved in marketing the seminar.  In addition, the CLC holds its own meeting with CLE presentations at the DRI Annual Meeting each October, and planning for 2015 will get underway soon.  Each of these represents a fantastic opportunity for members to get involved in the CLC, and to advance within the Committee.  Don’t miss your chance to increase your DRI profile, meet intelligent, fun and interesting colleagues, and grow your network of referrals.  Reach out to me, Chris Sheean (csheean@smbtrials.com) or the CLC chair, Kathy Lang (klang@dickinson-wright.com) and we’ll be sure to get you a position in an area that suits your interests.

Christopher T. Sheean,Swanson Martin & Bell, Chicago, IL | Vice Chair, Commercial Litigation Committee

Member to Member


The son of a baseball coach, the game of baseball is a secular religion in my household.  The father of two young boys and volunteer coach, our springs and summers revolve around the sport.  Baseball movies are also a staple. Perhaps my favorite baseball movie in the last 25 years is “Field of Dreams,” in which the main character portrayed by Kevin Costner continues to hear a voice whispering “If you build it they will come.” Costner plays the part of a farmer on the brink of bankruptcy but nevertheless against the advice of all others proceeds to build a fabulous baseball park in the middle of his corn fields. The end of the movie depicts bumper to bumper traffic waiting for a chance to enter his farm for a fee to catch a glimpse of the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson and other deceased greats play a game on the field.  As magical as the movie may be however, I’m here to break the bad news to you that the “if you build it they will come” model will not save the farm in the legal profession. To be sure, I have worked with more than a few lawyers who took the position that, armed with a website, firm name and a fax machine that legal work and clients will just magically appear.

I have been an active DRI member for some years now, including, before my current board service, a 3 year stint as the Louisiana State Representative. As I enter my last year of service on the DRI Board of Directors, I reflect back on the state of my practice and the source of my legal work. I can say without question that no less than a third of my new work in the last few years has been the result of referrals from lawyers I’ve connected with in my years with DRI. These referrals would not have happened had I not taken it upon myself to leverage the benefits of DRI membership. It has been said by others before me that a law firm doesn’t owe a younger attorney a book of business but simply an opportunity to grow in the profession and to develop one’s own book of business. As I near the 20 year mark of practicing law, I can point to no other organization in which I’ve participated that has helped me grow and sustain my business.

Don’t take my word for it but see for yourself. Join a few DRI substantive law committee and get active. You’ll soon realize that you’ve developed a contact in every state. And, when that contact has a client with the next big case in need of help in your state—perhaps you’ll get the call. Thanks to my involvement in DRI activities, I certainly have.

Mark J. Neal – Neal Law Firm, Monroe, LA

DRI Superstar


Former DRI board member and immediate past chair of DRI’s membership committee, Chris Kenney of Boston, Massachusetts, is a true superstar of DRI.  At the request of former DRI President, Mike Weston, Chris Kenney accepted the responsibility of leading DRI’s membership efforts in 2014.  Chris passionately lead DRI’s membership efforts to the best result since the economic downturn in 2008.  Under Chris’ leadership, more substantive law committees either met or exceeded their new member recruitment efforts than in past years.  Further, the collective effort of the committees has DRI more than 80 percent toward its overall goal.  Chris inspired DRI leaders responsible for recruiting new members by holding monthly conference call that celebrated the successes of the committees and state representatives.  He highlighted the successes each state representative or committee had and asked the leaders how they achieved the results so others could duplicate them.  This created an atmosphere where DRI leaders were committed to achieving their new member recruitment goals.

In order to exceed expectations, DRI leaders need to know that they have support from the top of the organization and Chris let everyone know that their efforts were appreciated, being recognized and valuable to DRI.  I was proud to serve as the vice chair to Chris Kenney.  Because of his example, I am inspired to lead DRI’s new member recruitment efforts for 2015.

Thank you, Chris Kenney for leading the way and inspiring me and other DRI leaders.

Douglas Burrell – Chair DRI Membership Committee

DRI’s Commitment to Diversity


“DRI’s Commitment to Diversity: Attend the Annual Meeting and the celebration of the Civil Rights Act.

The Annual Meeting set for October 23-25, 2014 in San Francisco, promises to be the best yet.  With an impressive list of speakers on a wide variety of topics, the event should be both insightful and impactful.  Among the headline events and of particular significance to the Diversity Committee, is the main stage program which celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.  The importance of this anniversary and its impact on diverse people since its passage, cannot be overstated.  This program is designed to highlight and meaningfully consider the incredible opportunities that have arisen as a result.

One of DRI’s primary objectives is to educate and enhance its membership.  As lawyers, we should value diversity and the enrichment it provides.   Recognizing and valuing our differences enhances our life experiences and allows us to better represent our clients and become better lawyers.  The Civil Rights presentation allows us to celebrate our differences and the progress that has been achieved over the last 50 years in society at large and within the profession.

The fact that this program is at the heart of this year’s Annual Meeting underscores DRI’s meaningful commitment to diversity and inclusion.  As an officer of the Diversity Committee for the last several years, this commitment to advance issues of diversity is palpable.  Please attend the Annual Meeting and the Civil Rights Act Program.  It should be an amazing opportunity to celebrate diversity and inclusion simultaneously.  Hope to see you all there.”

Rosary A. Hernandez, Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman LLP, Phoenix, AZ

DRI Annual Meeting SLDO Program – You Spoke, We Listened


DRI’s Annual Meeting is right around the corner and on Thursday afternoon, the SLDO program will feature topics in which you can learn how to strengthen and reinvigorate your SLDO.  Learn about programs that have been successful in engaging your young lawyers, find out about educating the non-lawyer public about your SLDO, review fundamental issues critical to your law practice, learn about the latest and greatest technology developments and discover best websites that are available for your SLDO to utilize and boost its profile.

Past attendees have proclaimed the value of the breakout sessions and asked for more, so on Friday afternoon, breakouts will be focused on Thursday’s topics designed for SLDO leaders to share with one another those experiences that have worked best for them and discover alternatives to approaches that have not fully met SLDO expectations.

Breakouts will be in five groups with an experienced DRI SLDO facilitator encouraging open dialogue on issues of importance to the SLDOs.  Thursday’s faculty will circulate among the groups allowing attendees meaningful follow-up on topics of most interest.   Participants will be encouraged to share their top three ideas for making their SLDO better in the coming year.  Discussions are expected to be lively and informative.

We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s DRI Annual Meeting on October 22-26, 2014 in San Francisco at the Marriott Marquis!

Cheryl Palombizio, DRI Director of Member Services

Working with Your State and Local Defense Organization


DRI affords its members the opportunity to be active in numerous substantive law committees and a chance to network with attorneys throughout the country.  DRI also partners with state and local defense organizations (SLDO) which allows its members to have access to more local resources and issues.

DRI members who are also SLDO members have access to the SLDO’s publications, list serves and databases.  Often times, attorneys may be practicing in a jurisdiction in which they may not be familiar. The SLDO can be a useful resource to gain access to information regarding the courts, local procedures, and practices.  Seminars offered by the SLDO provide great insight into issues unique to that particular jurisdiction.  These seminars also provide members the opportunity to present and market themselves.  SLDO publications provide a great opportunity to publish your areas of expertise.  Leaders of DRI substantive law committees should look to the SLDO substantive law committees for potential new members.  Joining SLDO committees allow members access to information that may not be available at the DRI level.  Each SLDO has a Board of Directors which allows attorneys to become leaders in their profession.

DRI has much to offer and when its members work with their SLDO, the opportunities and options available to them are plentiful.  Check in with your SLDO and see what they have to offer.

Paul Rajkowski – Rajkowski Hansmeier Ltd., St. Cloud, Minnesota

DRI Superstars


Normally, when you think of a DRI superstar you think of the names of individuals.  But in the case of the 2014 New DRI Member recruitment efforts, I think of the collective.  There so many superstars who have recruited new DRI members that it would be unfair to name one person.  Thus, I chose to recognize the many DRI members involved in the Substantive Law Committees, and the State and Local Defense Organizations who have all contributed to making sure that DRI remains a strong and vibrant member driven organization.

On the Substantive Law Committee side, through the end of July, the committees are 79% of the way of completing their targeted goal of recruiting 595 new DRI members.  Currently, 11 of the 30 Substantive Law Committees have achieved or exceeded their new member recruitment goal and 5 more committees are well on their way.

On the State and Local Defense side, through the end of July, the SLDO’s are 58% of the way of completing their targeted goal of recruiting 745 new DRI members.  Currently, 11 of the 50 SLDO’s have achieved or exceeded their new member recruitment goal and 10 more SLDO’s are well on their way.

This phenomenal progress could not be achieved without a lot of DRI superstars!  The great news is that we are half way through the year and we have a lot of time for additional DRI superstars to emerge; especially with the new “It Starts With You” campaign.

Thanks to the many DRI superstars who have recruited new DRI members during 2014.

Douglas K. Burrell – Drew Eckl & Farnham, Atlanta, GA

DRI Communities – Your Practice Area Resource


DRI is pleased to announce our new dedicated online communities that will act as hubs for all DRI committee activities.  The contacts made and information shared between committee members is one of the many ways to bring value to your DRI membership.  DRI’s goal is help facilitate these efforts using today’s social media and technological advances.

In the coming months, each of DRI’s substantive committees will be assigned an online community dedicated solely to the members of that substantive law committee.  Through this dedicated online community, you will be able to interact with your fellow committee members and keep up with what’s going on in your committee.  For example, you will be able to:

  • Connect with fellow committee members through the community discussion list (formally known as a list serve)
  • Post, read and comment on legal blogs
  • Stay up-to-date with committee events through the community calendar
  • Post and share documents in the community library, including white papers, reports, articles and other committee related documents
  • Keep current on committee activities and volunteer opportunities through community announcements

The communities are designed to be a one stop location of all things related to your committee and practice area and as a committee member you are automatically added as a member of the community.

Cheryl L. Palombizio – DRI Director of Member Services