Coffee, Beignets & Business

Posted on October 15, 2012 02:46 by Laurie Miller

New Orleans is known for many things – Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, the DRI Annual Meeting, Mardi Gras, hurricanes (the weather and the drink), jazz music, and so much more.  For me, when the DRI Annual Meeting comes to New Orleans it is all about two things – Beignets and Business.  The DRI Annual Meeting is my opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, build relationships with clients, engage with potential referral sources, work my way up in DRI leadership and eat beignets.  No matter what area of law you practice, no matter how long you have been in practice, no matter where you practice, and no matter the size of your firm or company the DRI Annual Meeting has something for you – the potential  for new business.  Come to the Big Easy.  Bring a client.  Arrange to catch up with an old buddy.  Meet some new people.  Have a café latte and a beignet, but don’t do it alone.  Invite someone to go with you - it just might land you some business.  Registration for the Annual Meeting and one trip to Café Du Monde (with two large café lattes and an order of beignets) will cost less than $1000.  If you get a case in the next year from someone you spend time with at the Annual Meeting and bill even 5 hours on it, at $200 per hour, you’ve paid for your registration.   Can you afford to pass up the opportunity for Beignets and Business?  Hope to see you in New Orleans and if I happen to ask you to grab coffee with me, you’ll know why.


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DRI Annual Meeting Less Than 2 Weeks Away!

Posted on October 11, 2012 02:16 by Joseph M. Hanna

Join us in a city world renowned for its charm and hospitality for DRI's 2012 Annual Meeting-October 24-28, 2012 at the New Orleans Marriott in the beautiful Crescent City. French and Spanish influences make New Orleans uniquely unforgettable. Enjoy spicy Creole and Cajun cuisine, its famous jazz and blues, incredible architecture, and fascinating tales of French Quarter heroes and heroines. Don't miss this opportunity to experience a city full of life, attend stellar education programs and visit with friends and colleagues, new and old. Don't forget your favorite team football jersey for the Thursday night networking event at the Mercedes Superdome!

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To my DRI Brothers and Sisters – this year’s DRI Annual Meeting will be spectacular with Block Buster Speakers, exciting CLE programming, 8+ panel counsel meetings  and a Thursday night social event at the Super Dome. The City of New Orleans is as vibrant as ever and the locals are waiting for us all with open arms. Join us for what will be for sure the best ever Annual Meeting we have ever had.

See you in a couple of weeks

Carlos Rincon –

Board Member, former Trucking Law Chair, Texan in dire need for some Cajun food



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A Diversion into Words

Posted on October 2, 2012 03:18 by Cynthia P. Arends

Bored with reading dry legal text?  For a humorous diversion into the world of words, consider picking up Roy Blount, Jr.’s latest book, Alphabetter Juice: or, the Joy of Text.  In it, Blount uses his well-known wit to delve into the art of language. Amazon describes the book as one for anyone from a novice wordsmith to a career grammarian.  That must also include lawyers, right?

Or, if you want to see Blount live, consider attending the Awards Luncheon at the DRI Annual Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25.  The meeting itself is in New Orleans Oct. 24-28, which presents another Blount related activity.  Check out this 2005 piece in which he describes various haunts in New Orleans.  

Don’t delay in registering for the Annual Meeting – early registration ends Oct. 2!

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You’ll leave with more than a hangover…

Posted on October 28, 2011 05:03 by Jobby Mathew

For all of you attending Annual Meeting this week – you might want to take a fire extinguisher to the cocktail mixer. has an interesting story regarding a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Bacardi 151. It seems that Bacardi’s popularity as a novelty in certain cocktails is contributing to its potential liability. Should the manufacturer be held liable for the tricks of a bartender? Have you had a close call or witnessed a trick like this at a bar? Let us know. In the interim, wear a fire retardant jacket if you are standing to close to the bar.


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Atticus Finch. Abraham Lincoln. Clarence Darrow. Those are some of the attorneys who have inspired many to attend law school and become outstanding trial attorneys. However, you don’t frequently hear aspiring trial attorneys utter the names Wiley Rutledge, Benjamin Cardozo, or Oliver Wendell Holmes as reasons why he or she attended law school. Is there a reason for this leaning toward the great trial attorneys and not some of history’s greatest legal writers? The reason is likely that trials are exciting, especially in movies and television shows. Cross-examinations, opening arguments and summations can be exhilarating. How many TV and movies scenes have you seen featuring a lawyer giving a heartfelt speech to a jury on behalf of her client or a heart-stopping cross examination? A lot, I’m betting. Now think of all the TV and movie scenes where the protagonist is featured spending hours writing and editing motion papers or appellate briefs. I’m guessing you haven’t sat through a lot of those scenes.

Those of us who have practiced law for even one year know that those exciting courtroom scenes are few and far between in our daily practices. A good part of our profession involves writing. Clear, concise writing is an important skill for an attorney. Writing is a common denominator for some of our best and most successful attorneys. Not too sexy, but very essential. Mr. Justice Stevens thinks so; see his interview with Bryan Garner here and here.

Bryan Garner and a United States Supreme Court Justice will be the keynote speakers at DRI's 2011 Annual Meeting. Effective legal writing will be the focus of the presentation; a skill just as important as convincing a jury to find in your client’s favor. Who knows? You might even leave the presentation with some new legal heroes.


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How do you know that you have bad habits in your law practice? Even if you are lucky enough to have a mentor, surely he or she doesn’t track your every step. For some, guidance about persuasive and effective writing unfortunately ceased after the first year of law school. Now you’re in your second, or perhaps 25th year of practice, and you’ve fallen into some bad writing habits that you’re not even aware of. Whether at the trial or appellate level, attorneys fall into similar patterns that lead to less effective written communication in motions and appellate briefs.

Do you find yourself throwing every argument into your brief because you are afraid to waive even clear losing points? Do you attack your opponent’s character or behavior in court documents over the course of litigation to show that his or her behavior has been so egregious that it warrants such a distraction from the issues at hand? Do you write to the maximum page limits in fear that the judge or judges won’t take your argument seriously if it’s concise and takes up a page or two?

Author and legal-writing consultant Bryan Garner’s books and lectures help attorneys remedy these bad habits. His lectures are not a quick fix or one-pill solution to weak writing. He teaches attorneys to care about legal writing and to cultivate the skills of writing throughout your practice. Should you really dedicate your time to doing so? Justice Ginsberg of the United States Supreme Court seems to think so (see Garner’s interviews with Justice Ginsberg here and here).

Bryan Garner and a member of the Supreme Court are speaking at DRI’s Annual Meeting in October. Some of the most experienced and prestigious attorneys throughout this country attend Mr. Garner’s lectures to continue to refine their persuasive legal-writing styles. You can too, as part of attending this year’s Annual meeting. It may be one of the rare opportunities to concentrate on improving your written and oral advocacy skills and fix those bad habits we all fall into throughout our practice. 


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President's Installation Remarks

Posted on October 25, 2010 04:10 by Matthew Cairns

When I met with the Nominating Committee in Washington DC in 2007, I emotionally told them that it was very humbling to be sitting before them.  Now 4 years later, I can say the same thing to you – it is very humbling to be standing here as DRI’s 49th President.  I have come a long way from Guilford Connecticut, and I thank everyone that has been there along the way for me.  Particularly:

  • • My Parents  – Bob and Nancy Cairns
  • • My Brother Andy and his fantastic wife Carol
  • • Tim Britain – my law partner of 22 years and my friend for longer than that
  • • My current law partners Mike Callahan and Charlie Bauer
  • • These folks aren’t here but I want to mention the attorneys and staff at Gallagher Callahan & Gartrell and Ransmeier & Spellman, particularly Mike Lenehan at R&S who asked me to finish his term as NH State Rep and set me on my leadership path; and Don Pfundstein at GCG who brought me on board in the midst of my officer track and with Charlie and Mike has supported me every day.
  • • The Presidents of DRI who have gone before me
  • • The Officers of our sister organizations:
    • • Tom and Ann Cordell  and Jan and Mike Neil of the FDCC
    • • Frankie and Martha Colon, and George and Carolyn Walker of the ADTA
    • • Joe and Mary Pat Ryan, and Bill and Jane Perry of the IADC
  • • Chuck Stewart and the Annual Meeting Steering Committee
  • • The Tri- State Defense Lawyers and Northeast Region
  • • The tireless DRI Board, Committee leaders and our DRI staff
  • • And most importantly my oh so patient wife Tracey, and our superstar daughters Beth and Maddie who put up with my daily foibles, my absences and my constant gushing about DRI and my DRI friends…without them, I would be nothing.

We are wrapping up DRI’s 50th Anniversary year. Since I became a DRI member

  • • laptops and blackberries are indispensible tools
  • • our country was attacked on 9/11
  • • We have undertaken the best judicial education program  in the country (NFJE)
  • • DRI has grown to 22,000 members at home and abroad; and
  • • The Red Sox finally won not 1 but 2 World Series titles.

So what do we have to look forward to in the next 50 years? That horizon is too far. Instead, what I want to do is look forward 10 years to DRI 2020

Beginning last year, under Cary Hiltgen’s leadership, DRI’s Executive Committee began taking a fresh look at our core principals. We brought back an annual officer’s retreat where we examined how DRI was meeting the pillars of Education, Balance, Justice, Economics, Professionalism and Service. We identified dead and dying ideas and sent them to their final resting place, and began focusing on the value proposition that is DRI and DRI membership.

This is going to be a year of strategic planning top to bottom at DRI, with the constant measuring point: how will doing x or not doing y create value for DRI as an institution and DRI members. The value may come in different forms:

  • • Drawing more members to the organization
  • • More timely and cutting edge legal education
  • • Exciting and new ways to deliver education to our members
  • • An increased international effort building on our experience in Europe and providing more opportunities for integration with our Sister Organizations and their international members, and our European, Canadian and other international members
  • • Strategic partnerships with companies such as West Publishing
  • • A bigger public voice as Thought Leaders on the civil justice issues that matter most to our clients and members through:
    • • Media commentary
    • • Publications
    • • Amicus briefing at our highest courts
  • • Technological advancements in our website and DRI Today

The challenges that face our legal system today can be a source of cynical dismay or a new and vital resolve. Given the skill, talent and wisdom of our members, it is particularly important that we contribute our best to just solutions. The world will be changing at break neck speed, and DRI will be working hard to be at or even ahead of the leading edge of that change in the legal and civil justice space. Your Officers and Board of Directors will be exploring what DRI 2020 can look like and how to get there. Your committees will be asked for input and so will our individual members. It will be an organic process but one founded on our core principles that we will not lose sight of as Henry, Mary and Mike follow me in the position of President, and new Leaders rise up in DRI. I can’t do this alone, the Board can’t do it alone, the officers can’t do it alone – we all have to work together to make DRI be all that it can be.

Turning back to DRI’s core principles:

  • • Education makes us better lawyers
  • • Balance and Justice are what we all strive for in our legal system and society in general
  • • Economics lets us support our families and employees
  • • Professionalism has us serving a cause greater than ourselves

But without Service, none of these can happen. I thank Chuck, Marc and Cary, and everyone here and across the DRI World for their service to DRI, to our justice system, to our colleagues, to our families and to society. It truly is DR-We, not DR-I. And most of all, I thank everyone here for my opportunity to serve as your president for the next year.


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Calling All Bloggers

Posted on October 8, 2010 09:27 by James McCrystal

On behalf of DRI Leadership, I would like to thank you for your efforts in submitting a blog post to the DRI Blog. As a token of appreciation, DRI would like to invite you to meet your fellow bloggers at the 2010 Annual Meeting in San Diego on Friday afternoon, October 22 at 4:30 p.m. in the Columbia 1 Room, on the North Tower Lobby Level.

As you may know, DRI recently established a new website, DRI Today, replacing For the Defense. It is designed to be one of the tabs on member desktops as a source of current news affecting members and their clients, and a quick resource for other information including postings by other DRI bloggers.

We are looking for volunteers to enhance the DRI Blog by making periodic postings to keep the blog lively and timely. Are you willing to continue to submit periodic postings to the DRI Blog as well as promote the DRI Blog to other bloggers you know? If so, please respond to and let us know.  We’d like to organize a small group of bloggers to improve the DRI Blog with useful commentary for members and to spread the word that it is one of the best sites on the Web for defense oriented blogging.

You can continue to contribute to DRI Today by sending your blog posts to Please be certain to include the article title and any tags you would like to use for the post.
We thank you again for your contributions to DRI, and look very much forward to hearing from you again soon.

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Imagine, if you will...

•   Watching the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis men’s finals in person...
•   Spending a week in Colorado skiing or at the beach with a big group of your friends and their families...
•   Showing off your new, top of the line iPad to your kids to let them know just how cool you are...
•   A day of sailing on Lake St. Clair followed by an evening in the Detroit Yacht Club’s famous Wood Suite...
•   A night at the Grand Ole Opry followed the next day with a trip to the gridiron to see the Titans play the Redskins...

Got your attention?  These are just a few of the exciting items available to bid on and buy at DRI’s Annual Meeting Silent Auction. 

This year, for the first time, DRI will hold a silent auction and raffle at the Annual Meeting.  All proceeds from the auction/raffle will go to the NFJE.  The auction will take place all week in the Exhibit Showcase with the final round of bidding taking place during the President’s Gala.

In addition to the bidding, attendees will have the opportunity to buy raffle tickets to win one of three fabulous prizes.  The tickets are $10.00 for a single ticket and $50.00 for six chances to win.  The drawing will take place at the President’s Gala. 

A list of all the fabulous items and instructions on how the auction will work can be found in the DRI Silent Auction Catalogue.  This catalogue will be included in your Annual Meeting registration packet.  However, if you want a sneak peek of what all will be available, click here:(pdf).

The NFJE is one of the most important initiatives that we, as defense lawyers, can support to help even the playing field for the defense bar.  Don’t miss this opportunity to make a significant contribution to the NFJE and to walk away some really fun fabulous items at the same time.

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If you wish to submit a blog posting for DRI Today, send an email to with "Blog Post" in the subject line. Please include article title and any tags you would like to use for the post.

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