Judge Paul Grewal’s Response in GSI when Parties Declined to Allow Junior Lawyers to Argue — March 11, 2016

Last Wednesday, in the GSI Tech., Inc. v. Untied Memories, Inc. case, No. 5:13-cv-01081, Judge Paul Grewal of the Northern District of California noted to the parties before him that the need for trial counsel to provide opportunities for junior lawyers, stating “who will try the technology cases of the future, when so few opportunities to develop courtroom skills appear.”  In response to the Judge encouraging the parties to allow associates to present argument on at least two of the six post-trial motions, the parties decided instead to stipulate to take all motions off calendar and submit them without any hearing. On Friday, Judge Grewal responded by issuing the following order:

The day before last, I expressed my concerns about the lack of courtroom opportunities for law firm associates in intellectual property cases like this one.1 Recognizing the court’s own important role in encouraging clients and partners to give up the podium once in a while, I asked that each party give associates the chance to argue just two of six motions set for hearing on Monday.2

This morning, the parties and their counsel responded. But rather than confirm their commitment to this exercise, the parties jointly stipulated simply to take all motions off calendar and submit them without any hearing.3 No explanation was given; perhaps associate preparation and travel costs were the issue. In any event, once again, another big intellectual property case will come and go, and the associates who toil on it will largely do so without ever being heard.

I appreciate that my order acknowledged the possibility that the parties would decline this opportunity and simply submit their motions on the papers.4 But I would be remiss if I did not observe the irony of another missed opportunity to invest in our profession’s future when two of the motions originally noticed for hearing seek massive fees and costs.5 To be clear, GSI asks for $6,810,686.69 in attorney’s fees, $1,828,553.07 in non-taxable costs6 and $337,300.86 in taxable costs,7 while UMI asks for $6,694,562 in attorney’s fees, $648,166 in expenses8 and $302,579.70 in taxable costs.9 That a few more dollars could not be spent is disappointing to me. My disappointment, however, is unlikely to compare to the disappointment of the associates, who were deprived yet again of an opportunity to argue in court.

Both of Judge Grewal’s orders are posted under the Judicial Orders Promoting Next Gen portion of this website.

Written by: Kathi Vidal, March 11, 2016