SSKS Holds Annual Skills/Educational Summit

Upholding Smith Sovik’s winning tradition requires skill and constant education along with the drive to learn new things and new developments in the law.  Smith Sovik attorneys formally meet semi-annually to discuss developments in the law and to learn tactics and techniques from each other.  The Smith Sovik Summit convened this past Saturday addressing among other things emerging issues in virtual litigation practice and also various amendments to the rules of practice.

Jim Cunningham was the Summit moderator and began the day by drawing on his extensive experience mediating cases as an advocate and as a neutral.  In addition to providing practical guidance on how to best approach mediation, Cunningham described the advantages of virtual mediation and the importance of concise, compelling mediation submissions.

John Goldman and David Katz presented on the law and logistics of zoom depositions, which have become commonplace in the past ten months.  In addition to discussing ethical issues surrounding zoom depositions, Goldman and Katz provided a hands-on demonstration regarding how to leverage zoom for document-heavy cases.

Kristen Benson and Karen Felter provided two valuable perspectives on Plaintiff depositions: one as a successful interrogator and the other as a strong appellate advocate and motion writer.  Drawing on their collective experience, Benson and Felter provided insights into how to most effectively interrogate a plaintiff in order to win motions and appeals.

Jackie Wanemaker from our Buffalo office provided an overview of 2020 as it related to New York law.  Her presentation covered statute of limitations issues ranging from Child Victims’ Act cases to the COVID-19 executive orders.  Jackie also surveyed the recent amendments to the Uniform Rules for Supreme Court which affect every aspect of New York litigation.

Alan Bedenko summarized the law and practice of Independent Medical Examinations which are vitally important to defending all types of personal injury claims.  Drawing on his decades of experience in personal injury defense, Alan provided strategic recommendations and addressed new developments in the law.

Kevin Hulslander and Jim Lantier—two of the firm’s pre-eminent writers and appellate advocates—concluded the Summit with tips on effective legal writing which has become even more critical during the COVID-19 era.  Hulslander addressed legal writing of affidavits, memoranda, appeals, reports and electronic mail while Lantier used examples from our late partner Fritz Sovik who was one of the best legal writers to ever practice in New York State.