So If You Feel Like Giving Me a Lifetime of Devotion, I’ll Let You Do This Motion

As trials become ever more rare, a California federal magistrate hearing a trade secrets case recently voiced a concern about the future of lawyering: “Who will try the technology cases of the future?”

In an order issued in GSI Technology v. United Memories Inc., U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Singh Grewal wrote that, over the years, he's seen armies of veteran trial lawyers show up to argue every little motion. And that worried him. 

Who will try such cases in the future, he asked, “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.”

That’s when the judge asked the lawyers on both sides to let the associates make oral arguments on at least two of the six motions set to be heard. If the parties weren’t willing to do that, he said, he would decide all of the motions without hearing arguments.

Well, guess what? Judge Grewal’s noble entreaty failed. Both firms waived oral arguments rather than allow the associates to have their day in court.

The disappointed Judge Grewal wrote: “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 of hearing seek massive fees and costs.” 

GSI’s legal fees and costs totaled $6.8 million, and United Memories calculated its own at $6.7 million. 

Said the judge: “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.” 

The judge is right, and it’s unfortunate that his invitation was not accepted. But it shows that there are those lawyers and judges who truly care about the future of the profession and the quality of lawyers who will serve the next generation of clients.   

Judge Grewal’s full written response is here.

Posted: 4/4/2016 11:38:16 AM by TCLE Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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