Over the last few months, I have had the honor of interviewing some of San Diego’s top trial lawyers on my podcast, the Trial Call 10. Even with decades of trial experience, I have learned something new from each and every one of my exceptional guests. And we have more coming! If you are looking for tips to improve your trial practice, or just enjoy hearing passionate lawyers talk about some of their cases, tune into the podcast on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/1w6g0xGaJrZSuonzgMtwEl
I tried a couple of cases to the bench the first half of this year. But, barring my entry into a new matter shortly before a trial, which occasionally happens, my trial calendar is clear for the remainder of 2023. Tried a few, settled a few, had two resolve by motion, and withdrew from a few with non-paying clients.
My 2024 trial calendar looks much different though – five matters set for jury trials in the first half of 2024! It will be a busy Fall/Winter 2023 into 2024. That is good news!
What is interesting about this breakdown is the Covid factor. The cases I have tried, settled, or withdrew from so far this year were all cases that commenced either before or during Covid. They were cases that had puttered along slowly toward trials through Covid shutdowns and surges, all 2-3, in one case 4, years old when concluded. These were cases where clients had to wait, through no fault of their own, unreasonable periods of time to get resolutions and where the fees to my practice from such cases were spread out over longer than usual periods of time. Bad for the clients, bad for my practice. Contrary to my real fear in March 2020 that Covid would decimate my trial practice, I was reasonably busy during the Covid shut-downs and surges. Happy for that! But the cases did progress differently and slower than in the “Time before Covid”. It was a weird time, to say the least.
In contrast, the cases I have set for trial next year are 2022 post-Covid cases set for trial roughly within 18 months of filing. Granted, it is unclear whether these cases will actually proceed to trial on their trial dates given the remaining Covid-caused court backlog. The courts are still pretty backed up. But they are getting cases set and out for trial and whittling down the trial backlogs. And trial dates are now real dates again as opposed to the place-holders they were during Covid. There is real progress towards a more normal progression of cases in my office, and in the system as a whole.
My Covid case backlog is now in the rear-view mirror. The courts are steadily moving in that direction as well. That is good news – for my clients and for my practice!
It was a pleasure, and lots of fun, to welcome my friend Susan Basinger, Partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP, to the Trial Call 10 podcast this week! Listen to the episode on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4iDC4m3t65J7NsNEvCDhDH
Episode # 3 of Trial Call 10 with Bibi Fell of Fell Law is live on Spotify and Amazon. Trial Call 10 is about San Diego trial lawyers and their practices. Each episode, I ask a different SD trial attorney the same ten questions (the “Trial Call 10”) about their trial practices and experiences. Check it out, watch for new episodes, keep listening, and, if you like Trial Call 10, subscribe, share it, and spread the word to friends, lawyers, future lawyers. Thanks!
I’m excited to launch my new podcast today! It’s called “Trial Call 10” and can be found on Spotify, and Amazon Music and buzzsprout. It is about San Diego trial lawyers and their practices. The set-up is this: each episode, I ask a different SD trial attorney the same ten questions (the “Trial Call 10”) and hopefully give listeners insight into their practices and personalities. We will feature attorneys in all stages of their trial careers, across all trial practice areas, both sides, civil and criminal. I love talking to trial attorneys. As I finish my fortieth year of litigating and trying cases, I am still astounded by the intellect and talent of San Diego trial attorneys. Trial Call 10 gives me, and you, an opportunity to learn about their practices, trial work, and courtroom experiences. Two episodes of Trial Call 10 are published (links below) featuring trial lawyers Ben Coughlan and Deborah Wolfe. More episodes will be released each week. Again, Trial Call 10 can be found on Spotify, and Amazon Music and buzzsprout. Please check it out, watch for new episodes, keep listening, and, if you like Trial Call 10, subscribe, share it, and spread the word to friends, lawyers, future lawyers.
I hope you enjoy Trial Call 10! Thanks!
Episode 1 – Ben Coughlan
Episode 2 – Deborah Wolfe
Three years ago, poverty attorney Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, civil rights attorney Bryan Pease, and I sued the San Diego Housing Commission alleging the Commission’s implementation of a Section 8 housing voucher program increased segregation in San Diego and trapped families in low income, low opportunity, high crime, neighborhoods. Our lawsuit detailed how the Commission had been setting voucher levels standards woefully low in high opportunity areas, and relatively lower than in low opportunity areas. Last May, after years of tough litigation and tactical delay, the Commission, facing a trial this summer, made a fundamental change to the manner in which it sets its voucher payment standards and aligned them with those issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Because the Commission’s payment standards had been so woefully low, this change constituted nothing short of leapfrogging over years of woefully inadequate voucher levels and was the largest one-year increase national fair housing experts had ever seen. This is a result we had fought hard for during three years of contentious litigation. It was a great result for our clients, for a lot of good San Diegans, and for the city of San Diego.
Deep in the canyon. Late afternoon. Still hot. Shadows invading the spaces all day occupied by bright searing sunlight. Sharp distinct lines between sun and shadow on surrounding rock faces. Waist deep, stinging cold, darkening, water, straddling the eddy line, my frontside feeling edges of the strong pull of the river moving downstream, backside feeling the subtle flow of eddy water moving upstream. In front of me, the main river moving swiftly to right, behind me, the eddy moving slowly to my left. In front of me, deep, surging, powerful, swift, downstream, behind me, shallow, calm, lazy, smooth, upstream. Water, slightly swirling, bubbling, along the line. Trout, at my feet, lazily moving upstream, along the line, in the shade. Almost cold beer in hand. Jill and family behind me on beach built by the eddy, laughing, drinking whiskey, happy.
Late afternoon, standing in an eddy line, on the Colorado River, deep in the Grand Canyon. Perfect.
Three years ago, lead attorney Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, civil rights attorney Bryan Pease, and I sued the San Diego Housing Commission for our clients, the NAACP, San Diego Tenants Union, and Darlisa McDowell, alleging the Commission’s implementation of a Section 8 housing voucher program increased segregation in San Diego and trapped families in low income, low opportunity, high crime, neighborhoods. After years of tough litigation and tactical delay, the Commission, facing a trial this summer, changed the manner in which it sets its voucher payment standards to align with those issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is a result we have fought hard for since 2019 and, having achieved this fundamental change in the voucher program, we have concluded the litigation. (See link to NAACP Press Release below) I congratulate and thank my co-counsels Parisa and Bryan, two fine, committed San Diego attorneys, for this result. I am proud to be a part of this effort to bring about fundamental change to the voucher program and to have helped secure a result which will allow voucher families greater choice in where they live. This significant change in the voucher program will give thousands of San Diego families access to better neighborhoods and greater opportunities. It’s a great result for a lot of good people and for the city of San Diego.
My practice is upgrading and expanding its document management and eDiscovery capacity. This is part of our ongoing effort to effectively work the complex business cases we are best suited to handle and to meet the high expectations of our clients. We have updated out document management and eDiscovery software to IPRO’s Discovery ][ Local suite. We have also increased our system speeds with SSD system drives and capacity with fault tolerant, big capacity storage drives for client and case documents. All client data and case documents are maintained in-house with redundant onsite, and offsite, back-up to insure against unexpected drive failure data loss. This upgrade to our firm infrastructure will further ensure that client data is secure and that we can meet the ever-increasing eDiscovery, traditional discovery, and courtroom demands of big document cases. We pride ourselves on our ability to go toe-to-toe with large firms in complex, high risk, document heavy cases. This infrastructure upgrade enhances our ability to meet that challenge. It also reflects our ongoing commitment to securing the best possible litigation and trial results for our clients and to providing focused, efficient, cost-effective legal services.