Out of over 1,400 submissions, AABANY Litigation Committee Co-Chair Luna Barrington has been recognized by Law360 as one of this year’s Rising Stars under 40, as she has secured defense trial verdicts in major class action suits against companies like C&S Wholesale Grocers and Johnson & Johnson. On June 4, Law360 published an article highlighting her recent accomplishments as a trial attorney, underscoring the massive damages she saved her clients by skillfully preparing for and conducting the trial with her trial team. Now a partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, she recalls successfully advocating for a group of Mexican-American students in Tucson, AZ, pro bono, as among the proudest moments of her career: in federal court, Barrington fought a state statute banning a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson’s schools, denouncing it as a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. She is also a first-generation lawyer and the first in her family to earn a graduate degree. Please join AABANY in congratulating Luna on being selected by Law360 as one of this year’s Rising Stars under 40, a well-deserved recognition of her achievements and trial skills.
To read the full article, click here (subscription required).
On December 5, the AABANY Litigation Committee hosted its annual Trial Advocacy Program, featuring the Honorable Diane Gujarati as this year’s keynote speaker. The all-day program, which started in 2012, gives attendees the opportunity to participate in mock trials led by experienced faculty members. Additionally, the distinguished and experienced faculty members present morning and afternoon panels on effective trial advocacy.
The day started with a keynote speech by Judge Gujarati, who discussed her experience as a trial lawyer and gave advice to the attendees. She emphasized the importance of attention to detail and preparation, as well as flexibility. While working before and during the trial, unexpected challenges will arise, and it is crucial to be able to take the time to regroup and remain focused even in such a high pressure environment. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of having good “people skills” because trial attorneys must relate, talk, and listen to a wide range of people. Judge Gujarati also noted the importance of trial attorneys truly advocating for their clients and, in concluding her speech, emphasized that trial lawyers must, of course, conduct themselves honestly and ethically.
Then, the morning panel started with faculty members Manisha Sheth and Mark Berman giving a presentation on conducting effective opening statements and direct examinations. They emphasized the importance of rehearsing the opening statement, since it is the first thing the jury will hear and thus is incredibly important. Additionally, the opening statement should be a punchy, relatable, easy-to-follow description of the case that incorporates an emotional element to it in order to situate the jury with the client’s story. During the direct examinations, it is important to ask simple, open-ended, non-leading questions and practice with the witness beforehand. While asking these questions, it is equally important to be an active listener and avoid talking too much; direct examinations should be focused on humanizing the witness and letting them tell their own story.
Once the panel concluded, the students were divided into two break-out groups to participate in mock trials. This year’s scenario consisted of a parent of a three-year-old suing a day care for negligence after the child broke his arm under staff supervision. The participants were divided into a pair of plaintiff’s counsel and a pair of defendant’s counsel, and then conducted opening statements and direct examinations. The faculty members listened to the two sides and then worked directly with the students to give feedback and critique.
After a lunch break, faculty members Joe Gim and James Cho started the afternoon panel by presenting on cross-examinations and closing statements. Unlike during the direct examination, during the cross-examination, the trial lawyer is the star. In a standard cross, the goal is to plant seeds of doubt into the credibility of the witness by impeaching them or forcing them into a “gotcha moment” where the witness contradicts themselves. To accomplish this, the trial lawyer must first make the witness comfortable with easy, unintimidating questions, then lay the foundation for later admissions, and finally lock in a crucial contradiction or admission of guilt. The discussion then turned to the closing statement. Similar to an opening statement, it is critical to continuously rehearse the closing statement in order to present the story in a seamless and relatable manner. In addition to memorizing the first and last line, it is also helpful to practice in front of non-lawyer friends and family, since that will be most similar to the actual jury. Following this presentation, the students returned to break-out rooms to conduct cross-examinations and closing statements and receive additional critique from the faculty.
Despite being held on Zoom this year, Trial Advocacy Program was a great success. The participants all really enjoyed the program, and they were able to learn from the experienced faculty and get hands-on trial experience. Thank you to Jenny Wu, Aakruti Vakharia, and Luna Barrington, Co-Chairs of the AABANY Litigation Committee, for organizing the event. And thank you to Judge Gujarati and the faculty members Manisha Sheth, Mark Berman, Joe Gim, James Cho, Sam Yee, Connie Montoya, Yasuhiro Saito, and Peter Polchinski.
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, AABANY’s Membership Committee, together with Corporate, Issues, Litigation, Solo & Small Firm Practice, and Professional Development Committees hosted a Membership Mixer with members, colleagues, and friends at Atwood Bar & Lounge in Midtown East. Over twenty attendees filled a private section reserved for our group. Our membership programs provide opportunities to network and to learn more about AABANY by meeting current members and leaders. Keep an eye out for our future events including an outing to see “West Side Story” on Broadway on March 19. To learn more about the Membership Committee, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/130
On August 17th, AABANY members and their family, friends, and pets gathered at the Heckscher Picnic Area in Central Park for the AABANY Annual Picnic. The weather was fantastic the entire day, and everyone enjoyed mingling and connecting with old and new friends.
Attendees sampled an assortment of delicious dumplings and sandwiches from Vanessa’s Dumpling House, as well as fruit, baos, cupcakes, and pizza brought by the attendees. Various drinks and snacks were also provided for all attendees.
We occupied the picnic area from roughly 11 am until 4 pm, with most people coming between noon and 3 pm. We had to take two group photos because after we took the first photo, around 1:30 pm, more people showed up who were not part of the first photo.
Special thanks to the Young Lawyers Committee, and the co-chairs, Cynthia Lam, Darley Maw, and Ada Wang, for planning and organizing this fun event! Thanks also to the Litigation Committee for co-organizing the event. Thanks to everyone for coming and spending part of your Saturday with us at the Annual Picnic. To learn more about the Young Lawyers Committee, click here. To learn more about the Litigation Committee, click here.
On March 20, 2019, our Membership Committee held its last Monthly Membership Happy Hour of the fiscal year at Karaoke City in Midtown Manhattan. A crowd of AABANY members and future members gathered to meet and mingle over drinks, delicious Korean food, and karaoke.
Both Brian Song, President-Elect, and Yang Chen, Executive Director, gave a shout out to David Sohn, Membership Director and Membership Committee Chair, for all his hard work in putting together the Monthly Membership Happy Hours as a unique way to let prospective members learn about AABANY.
We thank the Litigation Committee and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for co-hosting this successful happy hour, with more than 30 attendees. If you are not already a member, we hope your attendance brings you closer to becoming a member or renewing your membership. And thanks to all the members who came out.
On February 23, 2019, the Military and Veterans Affairs (“MVA”) Committee and Litigation Committee teamed up to co-host a Laser Tag event at Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City. Committee members spent the morning improving their teamwork, coordination, and communication skills by working in squads to engage their adversaries. Mission themes included Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, and Slayer.
Similar future events will likely be planned due to the overwhelmingly positive experience and feedback received from those who joined.