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Rethinking Our Approach to Civil Litigation: Proposed ABA Guidelines on the Use of Special Masters

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 90 minutes
Recorded Date: October 11, 2018
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  • What is the ABA Special Masters Working Group
  • Who is included in the ABA Special Masters Working Group
  • Nine Guidelines for the use of Special Masters in Civil Litigation

Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Recorded: October 11, 2018


This program seeks to make everyone connected with the administration of justice, including litigators, in-house counsel, ADR professionals, judges and court administrators, conversant with new guidelines that the ABA is considering for the use of special masters in federal and state civil litigation across the country. The guidelines will be considered for approval as a resolution by the ABA House of Delegates at the 2019 mid-year meeting.

This program will inform practitioners and the judiciary about cutting-edge thinking on the ways to use special masters to advance complex civil litigation. It draws on the work of the ABA Special Master Black Letter Working Group and will cover best practices the group has developed.

Faculty will discuss how practitioners and courts can make greater, more regular, more efficient and fairer use of special masters in ways that may soon change the practice of complex civil litigation. The program is also designed to assist individual judges (in deciding to use, choosing, and making use of special masters); courts (in developing programs for the use and selection of special masters); and practitioners (in knowing what to expect from these potential changes and advising clients on the use of special masters); and to provide a forum for comment on the black letter in advance of the House of Delegates' consideration.

This program was recorded on October 11th, 2018.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Lorelie S. Masters

Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP

A nationally recognized insurance coverage litigator, Lorie handles all aspects of complex, commercial litigation and arbitration. Lorie has advised clients on a wide range of liability coverages, including insurance for environmental, employment, directors and officers, fiduciary, property damage, cyber, and other liabilities. She also handles various types of first-party property insurance claims, including claims under boiler and machinery, business-interruption, contingent business-interruption, extra expense and other related coverages.

Lorie has handled and tried cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country and in arbitrations in the United States and abroad. At issue in these cases typically have been millions of dollars of insurance coverage for products and environmental liability, silicone gel breast implant claims, and other types of liability. Most recently, she obtained a settlement worth millions of dollars under D&O and E&O policies bought by a national nonprofit facing RICO and other high-stakes claims. She served as lead trial counsel for policyholder in an action enforcing CGL insurance coverage for the then-largest property damage class action settlement ever. The National Law Journal called that jury’s verdict one of the “most significant jury verdicts” of the year. She has also handled many other matters in litigation, arbitration, and settlement negotiations, recovering, collectively, billions of dollars for her clients.

Lorie is co-author of Insurance Coverage Litigation, an in-depth legal treatise first published by Aspen Law & Business in 1997 and updated annually. She co-authored a second book, entitled Liability Insurance in International Arbitration: The Bermuda Form, which won the 2012 Book Prize from the British Insurance Law Association for “outstanding contributions to the literature on insurance,” and is recognized as the seminal work on the issue of Bermuda Form arbitration. She was invited to serve as an Adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance, a position she has held since 2010.

A partner in the insurance coverage practice, Lorie’s clients say she “is very good at explaining complicated issues, and then distilling them for commercial use,” according to Chambers USA 2016, which ranks her in the upper echelons of her practice nationwide. She also was named a Top Ten Super Lawyer in DC for 2014 and 2015, among other recognitions.

Lorie writes and speaks extensively on insurance coverage, technology, and litigation. In addition to her legal practice, she is active in diversity and inclusion matters and has represented many individuals and groups pro bono, including policyholders denied health care coverage and victims of human trafficking. In 2007, she obtained one of the first money judgments in the country under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, after a trial in the federal court in the District of Columbia.

Lorie currently serves on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA) and as Treasurer of the DC Bar Foundation, the largest funder of legal services in the DC area. She is very proud of her service in 2008-2009 as President of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia (“WBA”) and her role in helping to organize the WBA’s centennial celebrations in 2016-2017. She helped to found the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel and served as its second President in 2013-2014. She served as national Policyholder Chair of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation, 2000-2003.

Lorie is admitted to practice in the US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, US District Court for the District of Columbia, US District Court for the District of Maryland, US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. She ran for attorney general in the District of Columbia’s first-ever election for that position in 2014.

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Hon. David K. Thomson

New Mexico Supreme Court

David K. Thomson is a justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court. On January 25, 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Thomson to succeed Petra Jimenez Maes. Thomson must stand for election in 2020 to remain on the bench. Thomson was a judge of the First Judicial District Court in New Mexico from 2015 to 2019. He was elected in November 2014. He had previously served on the court in 2010. Governor Bill Richardson (D) appointed him to the bench on March 29, 2010, but Thomson lost the election that November.

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Merril Hirsh


Merril Hirsh founded the Law Office of Merril Hirsh PLLC and HirshADR PLLC in November, 2017 after more than 34 years of litigation experience, first with the US Department of Justice Civil Division and then in private practice with Ross, Dixon & Masback, Ross, Dixon & Bell and Troutman Sanders.

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Honorable J. Michelle Childs

U.S. District Judge
United States District Court, District of South Carolina

Julianna Michelle Childs is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. She joined the court in 2010 after a nomination from President Barack Obama.

Childs was nominated by President Barack Obama on December 22, 2009, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina vacated by George Anderson. The American Bar Association rated Anderson Unanimously Well Qualified for the nomination. Hearings on Childs' nomination were held before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 16, 2010, and her nomination was reported by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on May 6, 2010. Childs was confirmed on a voice vote of the U.S. Senate on August 5, 2010, and she received her commission on August 20, 2010.

Childs earned her bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida in 1988, her master's degree from the University of South Carolina School of Business in 1991, and her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law with her J.D. in 1991.

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