Junior Attorneys Argue Post-Trial Briefing Before Judge Kronstadt

Junior Attorneys Argue Post-Trial Briefing Before Judge Kronstadt

On March 6, 2017, second year associate, Oliver Richards, and seventh year associate, Joanna Fuller, argued post-trial motions before Judge Kronstadt in the Central District of California. The case began in 2013 when CH2O, a water treatment company, sued competitor Meras Engineering for infringing ITS patent on environmentally-friendly technology to clean and re-use water. CH2O later added Houweling’s (a large hydroponic farming operation with facilities in the U.S. and Canada) as a defendant. Houweling’s had switched its water treatment supplier from CH2O to Meras, and the two defendants were infringing CH2O’s patent. The case was tried in two sessions over the summer of 2016 and resulted in a verdict in CH2O’s favor. The court scheduled a hearing on post-trial motions, including motions to set aside the jury’s verdict and for new trial, for March 6, 2017.

As a part of continuing efforts to provide junior attorneys with opportunities to gain experience in the courtroom, Fish & Richardson filed an advance “Notice of Argument by Junior Attorneys” informing the Court that it intended to have Ms. Fuller and Mr. Richards argue at the hearing.

Before oral argument began, Judge Kronstadt acknowledged the filing and told Fish Principals Chris Marchese and Andrew Kopsidas that he would permit them to sidebar with the junior attorneys during the hearing if necessary. Ms. Fuller and Mr. Richards addressed several post-trial motions, including motions for injunctive relief and for supplemental damages and prejudgment interest. Mr. Richards was primarily responsible for drafting the post-trial briefs, and Ms. Fuller had been a member of the trial team. Thus, both associates were deeply familiar with the issues and record.

Mr. Richards, who clerked for Judge Dyk in the Federal Circuit before joining Fish & Richardson, commented, “I have watched hundreds of oral arguments as a clerk and I never thought I would have an opportunity to do on-my-feet lawyering so early in my career.”  “It was an enormously positive experience, I look forward to future opportunities to do it again.”

CH2O, INC.’S NOTICE OF ARGUMENT BY JUNIOR ATTORNEYS
Case No. CV-13-8418 JAK (GJSx)

Counsel for Plaintiff CH2O writes to inform the Court that Plaintiff intends to
have two junior lawyers argue some of the post-trial motions to be argued at the March
6 hearing scheduled in this matter.

As a number of courts have recognized, “in today’s practice of law, fewer cases
go to trial and there are generally fewer speaking opportunities in court, particularly
for young lawyers (i.e., lawyers practicing for less than seven years).” See, e.g.,
Secured Structures, LLC v. Alarm Security Group, LLC, Civ. Act. No. 6:14-CV-930
(E.D. Tex., Mitchell, J., Jan. 22, 2016) (available at
http://nextgenlawyers.com/files/Judge-K-Nicole-Mitchel-EDTX-Order-
Jan2016.pdf); see also http://chipsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Judicial-
Orders-re-Next-Gen-3-9-16.pdf; www.nextgenlawyers.com (judicial orders). As
former Judge Grewal of the Northern District of California recognized, this trend
raises a serious question: “who will try the technology cases of the future, when so
few opportunities to develop courtroom skills appear? It is difficult to imagine
handing entire intellectual property trials to a generation that never had the chance to
develop those skills in more limited settings.” GSI Tech., Inc. v. United Memories,
Inc., Case No. 5:13-cv-01081-PSG, Order Re: Oral Argument (N.D. Cal. Mar. 9,
2016) (ECF No. 1112) (available at http://nextgenlawyers.com/files/GSI-V-United-
Memories.pdf).

Fish & Richardson is a proud leader of the Next Gen Committee, dedicated to
creating opportunities for junior lawyers to develop their “stand up” skills. A number
of courts now encourage parties to be mindful of opportunities for young lawyers to
argue in court. E.g., Scheduling Order Specifying Procedures (Guilford, J.) (“The
Court strongly encourages the parties to give young associate lawyers the chance to
examine witnesses and fully participate in trial (and throughout the litigation!).”);
Guidelines for Final Pretrial Conference in Bench Trials Before District Judge Lucy
H. Koh ¶ G (Jan. 3, 2011); Standing Order Regarding Courtroom Opportunities For Relatively Inexperienced Attorneys (Talwani, J.) (D. Mass. Oct. 9, 2015) (all available at http://nextgenlawyers.com/).

Plaintiffs respectfully notify the Court that they intend to have second year
associate Oliver Richards and seventh year associate Joanna Fuller argue certain
motions at the upcoming hearing for post-trial motions. Mr. Richards was the primary
drafter of the post-trial briefs and is intimately familiar with the issues and the record
in this case. Ms. Fuller was a member of CH2O’s trial team and has been involved in
all aspects of this case since nearly the beginning.

Given the importance of the issues to be argued, Plaintiffs respectfully request
that more experienced counsel be able to assist in the arguments should the need arise.

Written by: Dalia Kothari, April 6, 2017

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