Live Blogging the ABA Joint CLE Seminar in Colorado

This morning, I am making the trek out to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, the location for this year’s American Bar Association Section of Litigation “Environmental, Mass Torts and Products Liability Litigation Committees Joint CLE Seminar” in Avon, Colorado. (You can see the brochure for this conference here [PDF]). I’ll be live blogging the event and plan a series of short posts over the course of the conference. Nestled among mountain peaks that rise up to 14,000 feet, the resort is in the heart of Beaver Creek Village in the beautiful Vail Valley. It is hard not to be excited about such a beautiful destination, with some free time built into the schedule to take in a few downhill runs or, perhaps, a spin on the ice rink.

There are many reasons to look forward to this CLE seminar. Not only will there be an opportunity to catch up on the latest legal news and litigation techniques, there will also be break-out organizational meetings for the Section’s substantive subcommittees. At this conference, plans for the coming year are solidified and assignments are made to various subcommittees. If a lawyer wants to be involved in the environmental, mass torts or products liability committees, this is the place where he or she would begin that path.

As for the CLE program, there are, of course, multiple featured speakers of interest, from trial counsel and experts to members of the judiciary, including the Honorable Janis Graham Jack of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Those attorneys involved in silica litigation or who have represented manufacturers of asbestos-containing products are undoubtedly well familiar with Judge Jack. In 2005, she garnered much attention after issuing a 249-page order in In Re Silica Products Liability Litigation, in which she exposed fraud in the manufacturing of silicosis claims through for-profit mass screenings. 398 F.Supp.2d 563 (S.D. Tex. 2005). A former nurse, Judge Jack found that “[i]n the majority of cases, these diagnoses [were] more the creation of lawyers than of doctors.” Id. at 635. They “were driven by neither by health nor justice: they were manufactured for money.” Id. With such a background, she is well-suited for a panel addressing suspected baseless or fraudulent claims in litigation.

Further, it is no surprise to see a session devoted to the economy and its effects on the practice of law – a topic that has become all too relevant and seems to appear on virtually every program for these types of meetings, along with the impact of the Obama administration, which seems to be a theme that will be intertwined into several of the presentations and panel discussions.

Although provided with some advance materials, attendees must wait to receive materials for the products liability breakout CLE, which will provide a year in review. We are promised some insight on landmark Supreme Court decisions, the new administration, and a focus on health care reform. Panelists Penelope Dixon, Brian Fowler, and Lori Leskin, have reportedly scrutinized the legal trends over the past year and will reveal “what is really going on – including the good, the bad and the ugly of 2009.”

Stay tuned for updates and photos coming Friday and Saturday!

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