While the roles of defense trial counsel (particularly “outside” counsel or panel counsel in the law firm setting) and corporate and in-house counsel are often different, we have much in common. Because of this, I strongly encourage all corporate and in-house counsel to become members of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, and especially to attend the annual conference of DTCI Nov. 17-18.
Very often, corporate and in-house counsel are former law firm attorneys, particularly defense firm attorneys, so to a large extent we are talking about the same pool of talent. And having often come from the defense law firm environment, the corporate and in-house counsel usually have a good grasp of the issues facing defense trial counsel. On that basis, there is an affinity among defense trial counsel, corporate counsel and in-house counsel.
More important, the issues facing these groups of attorneys are substantially the same: proper evaluation of claims and other legal matters. Although it will be the defense trial counsel who will stand up in court or file the brief to assert the client’s position on these matters, both the defense trial counsel and the corporate counsel must fully understand the merits of the claim and the defenses to the claim. It is usually the corporate counsel who will make decisions on behalf of the client (his/her employer) or at least make recommendations to the decision-makers for the employer, based on the analysis and recommendations of the defense trial counsel.
Both defense trial counsel and corporate counsel must grasp all aspects of the issues. For example, corporate counsel overseeing the litigation may have serious concerns about the medical care — perhaps unnecessary medical care — provided to the claimant; but can those concerns be presented to the jury under Sibbing v. Cave? And can Medicaid reductions to the claimant’s medical bills be admitted into evidence (yes, according to the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision in Patchett v. Lee, in which DTCI had filed an amicus brief).
These kinds of issues are the substance of the two-day DTCI annual conference and other DTCI programs throughout the year, which are presented by the DTCI sections specializing in business litigation, construction law, insurance, health care law, product liability, workers’ compensation, and trial tactics.
It is as important for corporate counsel to be thoroughly familiar with these issues as it is for defense trial counsel. What better way to enhance your familiarity with these issues than in attending DTCI programming alongside the defense trial counsel who will be working to accomplish your client’s goals on these issues?
This year, under the leadership of conference chair Don Smith, DTCI will conduct its annual conference at the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Fort Wayne on Nov. 17-18.
Just some of the programs in the annual conference include the interplay between negligent credentialing claims and peer review; state surveys in health care litigation; advocacy and civility while working with the EEOC; risks for retained counsel from pre-suit investigation through trial and beyond; the new commercial courts; the use and legal implications of drones on construction projects; the statute of repose for asbestos cases; defending the low-impact rear-end collision; human factors in claims and litigation; a panel discussion on civility led by the Hon. Melissa May; e-discovery; settlements and Medicare set-asides; gender equality; a presentation about things you shouldn’t do on appeal by the Hon. Margret Robb; and cyber liability, data breach and social engineering fraud.
Fortunately, there will still be time for a cocktail reception and a pub crawl led by the Young Lawyers Committee.
I urge all corporate counsel and in-house counsel (as well as all defense trial counsel) to join DTCI if you are not already a member and to attend DTCI programming, starting with the annual conference. There are many demands on your time and money, but this one would be one of the best investments you can make. For more information, please contact our executive director, Lisa Mortier, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-580-1233. I look forward to seeing you there.•
• Kevin C. Tyra is a director of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana and the principal of The Tyra Law Firm P.C. in Indianapolis. He is also the chair of the DTCI membership committee. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.