Litigating Civil Cases in California From Start to Finish

Daniel Callahan
Brian McCormack
Jason Casero
Brett Bitzer
Daniel Callahan | Callahan Consulting
Brian McCormack | Callahan & Blaine
Jason Casero | Callahan & Blaine
Brett Bitzer | Callahan & Blaine

On-Demand: February 28, 2022

Accrediation Provided by:
myLawCLE
MCLE Credit Information:

Select Your State Below to View CLE Credit Information

Unable to Attend Live Broadcast?

Receive access to recorded class and earn self-study credit. Recording is made available 5 business days after live broadcast.

Can't Decide Which CLE Progam?

Access All
Federal Bar CLE Programs
co-sponsored with myLawCLE
Only $245yr

Annual Subscription includes access to:
  • 500+ Live CLE Webinars
  • National Hot Legal Topics
  • New Laws and Regulations
  • State Specific Programs
  • All Formats: Live, Replay, & On-Demand
Subscribe Today
Training 5 or more people?

Sign-up for a law firm subscription plan and each attorney in the firm receives free access to all CLE Programs

Program Summary

Session I – Conducting Voir Dire and Jury Selection – Daniel Callahan

The final and most important step in a lawsuit, of course, is a jury trial, where a jury of the client’s peers will hear the case and decide for one side or the other. More than 90% of cases don’t reach a jury trial, either because they’re dismissed or they settle before trial, but the cases that do reach a jury trial often involve the most money at stake as well as complex issues. Before a trial begins, the parties must select a jury. Dan will discuss the process of voir dire – the process that allows lawyers to question potential jurors to determine whether they should be selected as a juror for the trial – and provide valuable tips on how best to select jurors that will give you the greatest opportunity to win.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • What is Voir Dire, and what’s the law that governs it?
  • The multiple goals of voir dire: selecting, connecting with, and preconditioning jurors
  • Removal of jurors for cause versus peremptory challenges

Session II – Discovery Practice – Preserving Evidence – Creating a Discovery Plan – Brian McCormack

There should be a discovery plan in every case. An effective discovery plan can posture the case for settlement or trial and should serve the following functions:

  • Obtaining admissible proof of your claims or defenses.
  • Pinning down your opponent at an early stage.
  • Selecting the proper discovery tools to obtain the information needed and identifying the correct sequence of each step of your discovery plan.

PLAINTIFF
If you are representing the plaintiff, determine the precise elements of the cause of action sued upon – the prima facie case.

DEFENDANT
If you are representing the defendant, determine the specific elements of every denial of a claim made by the plaintiff and for each affirmative defense asserted.

PURPOSE OF THIS SEMINAR

  • My goal in this seminar is to provide you with a roadmap for creating a discovery plan that will take you from the point where an unlimited civil case in California is filed all the way up to the start of the trial.
  • The way to maximize any settlement or to maximize the results at trial is to make a discovery plan and execute that discovery plan for every case as if that case is going to trial.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Discovery methods
  • Objections and privileged information

Session III – How to Authenticate Social Media, Email, and Text Evidence – Brian McCormack

The use of social media, e-mail and texts has virtually exploded over the past decade. As more people use social media and electronic communications it has also become more important as a potential source of evidence in litigation and trial. It follows that attorneys must become familiar with discovery tactics and rules concerning the discovery and admissibility of social media, e-mails and texts. In this seminar I will provide a roadmap that will guide attorneys in how to obtain social media and the steps to take in order to authenticate this evidence and get it admitted at trial.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • How to authenticate social media
  • How to authenticate e-mail
  • How to authenticate text evidence

Session IV – Motion Practice and Pleadings: Getting What You Want– Jason Casero

The program will focus on how carefully crafted pleadings can advance litigation strategy, and how they should be tailored to the needs of every particular case. It will also discuss best practices for improving chances of success when engaging in motion practice. The presentation will recognize the differences between state and federal practice, but will emphasize principles that are generally applicable regardless of the venue.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • How attorneys should adapt their pleading strategy based upon client expectations, and the needs of the case
  • Improving chances of success during motion practice by objectively assessing the reasonableness of your position
  • Why decorum and professionalism are an indispensable part of a winning strategy.

Session V – Legal Ethics: Avoiding Key Dangers– Jason Casero

There is no shortage of ways that attorneys can get themselves in trouble. One common pitfall is putting the financial interests of the attorney or the firm ahead of the objectives of the client. This program will focus on tailoring your litigation strategy so that you adhere to client obligations, and how communication can help you meet your ethical duties. It will also address why the client is not always right, and your obligations as an officer of the Court.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • The importance of client communication in avoiding ethical violations
  • Methods for advising a client about the potential outcomes of various litigation strategies
  • Why the client is not always right

Session VI – Top Civil Litigation Do's and Don'ts – Brett Bitzer

Litigation is a complex process that’s full of landmines, from the substance of the legal issues involved to court procedures and deadlines. Winning a case, whether you’re on the plaintiff’s side or defense’s side, requires doing everything right, and refraining as much as possible from doing the things that are wrong or counterproductive. With his 40 plus years of experience, Dan Callahan knows the do’s and don’ts. In particular, while conducting a jury trial is the culmination of a litigated case, over 90% of a case involves pre-trial procedures, from filing or answering the complaint to getting past summary judgment. Dan will discuss what the best litigation practices are, thereby maximizing your client’s chances of winning a case.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Why litigation is so complex
  • Common landmines in litigation, and how to avoid them
  • Pre-trial procedures, and how they can affect your trial, or prevent you from even getting to trial

Session VII – Building Your Civil Trial Skills – Brett Bitzer

How do you become an outstanding trial lawyer? It’s not by accident. The best litigators in the country, of which Dan Callahan is one, have honed their skills over years and decades. Dan will discuss the evolution from being a junior lawyer who works on litigation matters to a bona fide trial lawyer who can argue in front of a jury, and conduct a complicated case that may last weeks or months. His tips will address skills such as legal research and analysis, factual investigation, written discovery and depositions, handling motions, and finally, preparing for and conducting a trial.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • The evolution from junior attorney to experienced trial lawyer
  • Weaving the facts and the law to prepare your case for trial
  • Filing and defending against pre-trial motions
  • Final preparations for trial: always outwork your opposition

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Date / Time: February 28, 2022

  • 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm Eastern
  • 12:00 pm – 4:30 pm Central
  • 11:00 am – 3:30 pm Mountain
  • 10:00 am – 2:30 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available

Speakers

Daniel Callahan_myLawCLEDaniel Callahan | Callahan Consulting

Daniel J. Callahan has distinguished himself as one of the top trial attorneys in California, both as an Orange County business attorney and Santa Ana injury attorney, and has repeatedly been recognized by his peers for his incredible accomplishments. Mr. Callahan was the winner of the prestigious OCTLA Trial Lawyer of the Year Award three times, in 2000, 2004, and 2012. He has been named one of the Top 10 Attorneys in the United States by the National Law Journal. He was voted California Business Trial Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine. In addition, Mr. Callahan has been named one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the American Trial Association, featured in the Best Lawyers in America for sixteen years straight, 2005-2021 and listed by Super Lawyers as one of The Top 10 Lawyers in Southern California for 2013.

The reason for the accolades is simple: preparation and results. Since founding Callahan & Blaine, Mr. Callahan has won many jury trials and obtained scores of seven and eight-figure settlements on behalf of his clients.

Notable verdicts include a $934,000,000 jury verdict obtained in 2003, after a three-month jury trial in a complex business dispute entitled Beckman Coulter vs. Flextronics. This unanimous verdict was the largest in California in 2003 and remains the largest in Orange County history. Mr. Callahan went on to obtain a $50,000,000 settlement in a road design case against the City of Dana Point. Exclusive of large class actions, this is one of the largest personal injury settlement in United States history. Most recently, after a two-month jury trial, Mr. Callahan obtained a $38 Million settlement on behalf of a class of newspaper delivery drivers against The Orange County Register. This is the highest employment settlement in Orange County’s history. Mr. Callahan is equally skilled in representing defendants. He has secured many total defense verdicts against some of the most respected plaintiff attorneys in the county.

Mr. Callahan grew up in Chicago, Illinois where he went on to receive his BA, magna cum laude, from Western Illinois University in 1976, and graduated with honors from the UC Davis School of Law in 1979, while serving as Editor of the Law Review. He began his career in Hawaii before relocating to Southern California and starting his own firm by opening the doors on St. Patrick’s Day, 1984.

Mr. Callahan has given nationwide seminars on litigation and published multiple articles on litigation strategy and practice. He has been a speaker at multiple continuing education seminars and regularly speaks at the State Bar of California’s annual convention on topics ranging from advanced trial skills to the use of technology in the courtroom. For the past several years, he also has given seminars on jury selection and opening statements at local, state, and national conferences.

 

Brian McCormack_myLawCLEBrian McCormack | Callahan & Blaine

Brian McCormack is a nationally recognized trial attorney and a principal at Callahan & Blaine. His practice focuses on high-stakes, complex civil litigation, including traumatic brain and spine injury, personal injury, premises liability, wrongful death, and product liability litigation.

Mr. McCormack’s history of outstanding results has earned him a reputation for excellence among both clients and peers. He has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America, one of the Top 50 Attorneys in Orange County, California, and was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.

Honors and Awards

• The Best Lawyers in America
• OCTLA Trial Attorney of the Year
• Top 50 Attorneys in Orange County
• Western State University College of Law – Hall of Fame
• Top Attorneys in Southern California
• Best California Attorneys
• The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Lawyers, Civil Plaintiff
• Lawyers of Distinction – Top 10% in the U.S. – Personal Injury
• America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 1%
• American Institute of Personal Injury Lawyers – 10 Best
• Super Lawyers

Professional Associations and Memberships

• American Association for Justice, Member
• Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Member
• Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Member

 

Jason Casero_myLawCLEJason Casero | Callahan & Blaine

Jason Casero has a broad base of experience in all phases of litigation, arbitration, and internal investigations. As an Orange County business lawyer, he has represented multi-national corporations and prosecuted the rights of litigants in a variety of practice areas, including real estate, intellectual property, and business litigation. He regularly consults with business clients regarding best practices and mitigation of legal risk. His pro bono efforts have ranged from assisting individuals escaping persecution, to protecting non-profits from predatory attacks.

Jason has a passion for oral advocacy and is a winner of the Wendell F. Grimes Moot Court Competition. In addition to his practice, he has continued to pursue this passion through his volunteer efforts as a coach during Fordham Law School’s Mentor Moot Court Competition. He has also served as a moot court judge during the prestigious National Moot Court Competition co-sponsored by the New York City Bar Association and served as a guest lecturer on intellectual property issues.

As a proud member of a military family, Jason maintains a keen interest in the rights of veterans and their loved ones.

 

Brett Bitzer_Callahan & Blaine_myLawCLEBrett Bitzer | Callahan & Blaine

Brett Bitzer is an experienced trial attorney successfully representing both plaintiffs and defendants in complex multi-million dollar cases throughout the state of California.
In 2003, Mr. Bitzer obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno where he majored in Criminal Justice and was a member of the Division 1-A tennis team. In 2009, Mr. Bitzer graduated Order of the Coif and With Great Distinction from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. After passing the California bar in December 2009, Mr. Bitzer worked for a very successful boutique civil litigation firm in Sacramento specializing in trial work. In 2015, Mr. Bitzer got married to Jessica Jorgenson, a Southern California native, which brought Mr. Bitzer to beautiful Southern California.

Mr. Bitzer learned early on in his career that while many attorneys hold themselves out as civil litigators very few of them are actually trial attorneys. Mr. Bitzer chose to be a trial attorney and has dedicated himself to the craft ever since.

Mr. Bitzer’s greatest strength is his ability to successfully and efficiently prepare a case for trial. While not every case should be tried, Mr. Bitzer is a firm believer that the only way to maximize a case’s settlement value, for either a plaintiff or defendant, is to prepare it as if it is going to trial. For example, Mr. Bitzer recently represented an employee who had been wrongfully terminated and not paid his stock options. The defense did not prepare the case for trial and, for that reason, was forced to quadruple its settlement offer the day before trial once it was made clear that Mr. Bitzer was prepared to take the employment lawsuit to verdict.

Similarly, Mr. Bitzer substituted in as counsel for a plaintiff in a complex legal malpractice action two months before trial and after the case had been pending for over three years. Mr. Bitzer quickly prepared the case for trial, successfully amended the complaint to allege more precise claims and damages, and the case settled days before trial for over double the settlement offer obtained by the prior counsel. The reason being, Mr. Bitzer was prepared to take the case to verdict and the defense was not.

Most recently, Mr. Bitzer obtained a judgment (including attorneys’ fees) on behalf of an Orange County business owner who sold his medical laboratory and was not paid the final installment payment. The main defense was that the judgment should be solely against a defunct entity that had no assets which would have resulted in a pyrrhic victory for the client. In response, Mr. Bitzer was able to present overwhelming evidence to successfully persuade the Court that the corporate veil should be pierced holding the individual defendants personally liable and making the judgment collectible for the client.

Mr. Bitzer has also had success in defending business owners and individuals. Sometimes a defense case must be tried because the plaintiff’s counsel is unreasonable and has overvalued the case. Specifically, Mr. Bitzer recently represented a business owner being sued by a former employee for wrongful termination and pregnancy discrimination. The plaintiff’s counsel pre-trial offer was in excess of $2 million dollars which would have bankrupted the client and was more than the claim was worth. After a four-week jury trial, Mr. Bitzer successfully obtained a motion for new trial on damages reducing the jury’s verdict (9-3) from $787,000 to $190,000 and the client was able to stay in business and avoid bankruptcy.

Agenda

Session I – Conducting Voir Dire and Jury Selection | 1:00pm – 1:30pm
1. What is Voir Dire, and what’s the law that governs it? | 1:00pm – 1:10pm
2. The multiple goals of voir dire: selecting, connecting with, and preconditioning jurors | 1:10pm – 1:20pm
3. Removal of jurors for cause versus peremptory challenges | 1:20pm – 1:30pm

Session II – Discovery Practice – Preserving Evidence – Creating a Discovery Plan | 1:30pm – 2:00pm
1. Discovery methods | 1:30pm – 1:45pm
2. Objections and privileged information | 1:45pm – 2:00pm

Break | 2:00pm – 2:10pm

Session III – How to Authenticate Social Media, Email, and Text Evidence | 2:10pm – 2:40pm
1. How to authenticate social media | 2:10pm – 2:20pm
2. How to authenticate e-mail | 2:20pm – 2:30pm
3. How to authenticate text evidence | 2:30pm – 2:40pm

Session IV – Motion Practice and Pleadings: Getting What You Want | 2:40pm – 3:10pm
1. How attorneys should adapt their pleading strategy based upon client expectations, and the needs of the case | 2:40pm – 2:50pm
2. Improving chances of success during motion practice by objectively assessing the reasonableness of your position | 2:50pm – 3:00pm
3. Why decorum and professionalism are an indispensable part of a winning strategy | 3:00pm – 3:10pm

Break | 3:10pm – 3:20pm

Session V – Legal Ethics: Avoiding Key Dangers | 3:20pm – 4:20pm
1. The importance of client communication in avoiding ethical violations | 3:20pm – 3:40pm
2. Methods for advising a client about the potential outcomes of various litigation strategies | 3:40pm – 4:00pm
3. Why the client is not always right | 4:00pm – 4:20pm

Break | 4:20pm – 4:30pm

Session VI – Top Civil Litigation Do’s and Don’ts | 4:30pm – 5:00pm
1. Why litigation is so complex | 4:30pm – 4:40pm
2. Common landmines in litigation, and how to avoid them | 4:40pm – 4:50pm
3. Pre-trial procedures, and how they can affect your trial, or prevent you from even getting to trial | 4:50pm – 5:00pm

Session VII – Building Your Civil Trial Skills | 5:00pm – 5:30pm
1. The evolution from junior attorney to experienced trial lawyer | 5:00pm – 5:05pm
2. Weaving the facts and the law to prepare your case for trial | 5:05pm – 5:10pm
3. Filing and defending against pre-trial motions | 5:10pm – 5:20pm
4. Final preparations for trial: always outwork your opposition | 5:20pm – 5:30pm