Commercial and Federal Litigation Section

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  • CLE Programs and Events
    • September 15, 2017 - Ethical Issues in Litigation Finance


      Friday, September 15, 2017
      12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

      New York Society of Security Analysis  
      1540 Broadway, Suite 1010 
      New York, NY 10036 

      MCLE Credits: 1.0 Ethics   

      NYSBA Members: $75
      Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Members: $63.75 Non Members: $175 


      Who Should Attend 
      Both new and experienced attorneys will benefit from attending this program  
      Program Chair and Presenter 
      James Batson, Esq. | Bentham IMF | New York City 
      Program Description 
      Cost often weighs as one of the most significant deterrents to pursuing a commercial case through trial for attorneys, firms, and the parties to a lawsuit. Litigation finance has become an increasingly prominent means of helping parties who deserve their day in court bear the financial burdens of litigation. However, the interplay between funding and attorney ethics requirements have engendered spirited debate about how and when third party funding of litigation is appropriate. Issues including whether a funder’s investment impacts an attorney’s duty to use independent professional judgment, avoid conflicts of interest and protect the attorney-client and work product privileges are all central themes in the debate. Recent developments have even led courts to engage in the discussion, with the Northern District of California deciding in January 2017 to require disclosure of funder involvement in class actions. 
      In this program, participants will learn how to use litigation funding to access the resources they need to pursue meritorious commercial litigation claims. Like any business, law firms must manage their financial risks. While they may see the merits in a case and feel confident in their ability to achieve a victory for the client, they may not have the appetite to take it on a contingency basis. Clients may be equally averse to assuming the high costs of litigation. Even if they have sufficient capital resources, they may not want to bear the financial burden of paying to pursue a case through trial. Appeals can cause even more financial strain. It’s important to understand the ways in which attorneys, law firms and clients can avail themselves of financial assistance from litigation funding companies without running afoul of legal ethics rules. 
      The discussion will focus on the intersection of litigation finance and the applicable Rules of Professional Responsibility, as well as the basic principles of litigation funding. A detailed appendix will be provided containing the ethics opinions and additional content discussed during the program. 

      View the Program Flyer 

      About the Speaker 
      James Batson is a Senior Investment Manager and Legal Counsel at Bentham IMF, a publicly traded litigation funder. Jim is one of the most experienced professionals working in litigation funding in the United States. In addition to having spent two years with Bentham IMF, Jim formerly held roles as Chief Operating Officer for Fulbrook Capital Management and Consultant for Lumius Capital LLC.  
      He possesses 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer with a prestigious plaintiff’s law firm that brought cases on a contingent-fee basis. An accomplished litigator, Jim tried cases in federal and state court and before the American Arbitration Association, JAMS, FINRA and the Chicago Board of Trade. He also handled regulatory proceedings before the SEC, the NYSE and FINRA. 
      Jim is a leader in the field of case management, including being a member of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York’s Advisory Groups’ Pilot Project regarding Case Management Techniques for Complex Civil Cases, and lead counsel in the famous case of Zubulake vs. UBS Warburg, which resulted in five seminal opinions by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York addressing a company’s duty to preserve documents and emails. 
      Jim received a B.A. in Economics and English from Cornell University, a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and an M.B.A. from Fordham University School of Business.   
      Program Co-Sponsors 
      Committee on Continuing Legal Education 
      Commercial and Federal Litigation Section

      Join the Conversation!Follow us on Twitter:  @nysbaCLE 
      Interested in registering more than one attorney? 
      Three or more registrations from the same firm/organization are eligible for our 20% Group Discount 
      Note: Pre-registration Strongly Advised: You can save money and guarantee your seat and course materials by registering early. Registrations received at the door are subject to an additional $15.00 registration fee. Registrations cancelled less than three days from the program date will be assessed a cancellation fee of $25.00. 
      Additional Information: This program provides TRANSITIONAL credit to all attorneys. For information about New York MCLE requirements, visit IMPORTANT NOTICE--PARTIAL CREDIT FOR PROGRAM SEGMENTS NOT ALLOWED: Under the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board Regulations and Guidelines, attendees at CLE programs cannot get MCLE credit for a program segment (typically, a lecture or panel, of which there are usually several in a program) unless they are present for the entire segment. Those who arrive late, depart early, or are absent for any portion of the segment WILL NOT receive credit for that program segment. 

    • October 2, 2017: Easy eDiscovery - Judicial Insights & Vendor Advice - Rochester, NY


      Monday, October 2, 2017
      5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. 

      Legacy Tower
      One Bausch & Lomb Place, 2nd Floor
      Rochester, NY 14604


      Efficient, cost-effective eDiscovery in state and federal practice requires strategic planning and analysis long before the first document request is drafted. This judicial panel will help you conduct better eDiscovery.

      Join the Hon. John Curran, Hon. Jonathan Feldman, Hon. Daniel Doyle, and eDiscovery Senior Advisor Susan Kavanagh[SM1]  to discuss best practices and tips. They will particularly focus on small to medium-sized document collections.

      Attendees will learn how to:   

      • Identify judicial eDiscovery needs and concerns
      • Better evaluate client data
      • Make more effective requests for documents and data
      • Demonstrate value to your client
      • Use recent developments in state and federal eDiscovery law
      • Implement cost-saving techniques

      Bench & Bar Networking Reception:  Immediately following the CLE, join your colleagues at a Networking Reception, included as part of the program thanks to our vendor sponsor. 

      This program is jointly sponsored by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association, and the Monroe County Bar Association. 

      This program qualifies for 1 MCLE Credits in Professional Practice | Cost to attend: Members $35.00 | Non-members $50.00


      To Register over the phone, please contact the Member Resource Center at 1-800-582-2452

       For questions: Beth Gould at

    • October 25, 2017: Legal Ethics in the Digital Age: Practical Strategies for Using Technology Ethically in Your Practice


      CLE Program and Live Webcast
      Wednesday, October 25, 2017 | 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
      4.0 MCLE Credits | 4.0 Ethics Credits
      New York Society of Security Analysts

      1540 Broadway, Suite 1010 (entrance on 45th Street | New York City


      8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

      9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.


      Welcome & Introductions

      Mark A. Berman, Esq. | Ganfer & Shore LLP | Biography
      9:10 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.                       

      What Attorney Competence Means When It Comes to Handling Electronically Stored Information

      Maura R. Grossman, Esq. | Maura Grossman Law | Biography

      Ronald J. Hedges, Esq. | Dentons US LLP | Biography
      Shawndra G. Jones, Esq. | Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP | Biography
      Hon. Rosalyn H. Richter | NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department | Biography

      10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.





      Tips and Tools for Protecting Privilege and Work-Product in Electronic Communications and Publications

      Ronald J. Hedges, Esq. | Dentons US LLP | Biography

      Mark A. Berman, Esq. | Ganfer & Shore LLP | Biography
      Shawndra G. Jones, Esq. | Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP | Biography
      Hon. Rosalyn H. Richter | NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department | Biography
      10:50 a.m. - 11:05 a.m.

      Refreshment Break

      11:05 a.m. - 11:55 a.m. 




      The Do's and Don'ts of Attorney Social Media Use and Advice to Clients: An Overview of the "Rules of the Road"

      Prof. Michael L. Fox | Mount Saint Mary College | Biography

      Ignatius A. Grande, Esq. | Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP | Biography
      Maura R. Grossman, Esq. | Maura Grossman Law | Biography
      Scott L. Malouf, Esq. | Office of Scott Malouf | Biography

      11:55 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.



      Managing Records in the Cloud and Elsewhere: Takeaways for Organizing Your Client Files

      Ignatius A. Grande, Esq. | Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP | Biography

      Prof. Michael L. Fox | Mount Saint Mary College | Biography
      Shawndra G. Jones, Esq. | Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP | Biography
      Scott L. Malouf, Esq. | Office of Scott Malouf | Biography

      12:45 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

      Closing Remarks

      Mark A. Berman, Esq. | Ganfer & Shore LLP | Biography
      12:45 p.m.

      NYSBA Members: $135.00
      Commercial & Federal Litigation Section Member: $110.00
      Non-Members: $235.00
      Students: $45.00


    • Save the Date: May 4-6, 2018 Spring Meeting

      The Sagamore Resort on Lake George
      Bolton Landing, NY
      May 4-6, 2018

      Join your colleagues for the weekend in Bolton Landing, NY!

      Nestled among the timeless beauty of the Adirondacks, the Sagamore Resort has welcomed guests to the shores of Bolton Landing for over a century. The resort on Lake George is poised on the southern end of Green Island with captivating views and year-round activities that embrace the natural splendor of the Adirondacks. 

      Breathe in the fresh mountain air on a scenic hike. Enjoy fishing right from their dock or tee off on the Donald Ross-designed 18-hole golf course. Savor the culinary artistry of their award-winning restaurants and lounges. From swimming and tennis to sumptuous spa treatments, this Lake George resort invites you to discover the allure of the Adirondacks at your own pace.

      Join your colleagues this weekend at this family-friendly resort to earn some CLE credits, network and enjoy the beautiful Adirondack mountains and lake. 

      Save the Date and look for more information next Spring.

  • Recent News & Events


    Women attorneys remain considerably underrepresented in courtrooms across the state as well as in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), according to a report issued by the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association.

    The report entitled “If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR,” was compiled by the section’s Task Force on Women’s Initiatives.
    It reveals that female attorneys comprise about 25 percent of attorneys in lead counsel roles in courtrooms statewide. The results were strikingly similar in commercial and criminal cases within the private sector. Overall, women attorneys in the public sector, however, fared far better than their counterparts in the private sector.

    “In sum, the low percentage of women attorneys appearing in a speaking role in courts was found at every level and in every type of court: upstate and downstate, federal and state, trial and appellate, criminal and civil, ex parte applications and multi-party matters,” according to the report.

    The report is based on the first-ever observational study of women attorneys in the courtroom. The first portion of the study tracked the participation of women as lead counsel and trial attorneys in civil and criminal litigation. Judges were asked to log the gender of all speaking counsel in their courtroom. The other portion of the study asked several ADR providers to provide data regarding the gender of neutrals selected for mediations and arbitrations.

    The study took place from Sept. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. The New York Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, two of the four federal district courts, all four appellate divisions as well as commercial divisions in supreme courts in counties from Suffolk to Onondaga and Erie participated. Approximately 2,800 questionnaires were completed and returned by judges in participating courts.

    “The results reveal that women remain woefully underrepresented in the courtroom – particularly in the private sector,” said retired U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin of New York City (Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and JAMS). “We hope the report is widely disseminated and studied by lawyers in the public and private sectors, in-house counsel, and members of the judiciary. As our title suggests, the time has come to turn things around. We look forward to seeing a real improvement when we repeat the study in two years.”

    In addition to Scheindlin, other task force members are: former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie H. Cohen of New York City (Morrison & Foerster); Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause); former State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber of New York City (Arent Fox); Sharon M. Porcellio of Buffalo (Bond, Schoeneck & King); Lesley F. Rosenthal of New York City (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts); and Lauren J. Wachtler of New York City (Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp). All are former chairs of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section.

    “The section's report is truly a significant step in advancing the discussion about the gender of attorneys appearing in New York courtrooms, the gender of neutrals appointed in ADR matters and toward identifying actionable items to reduce the obstacles confronting women trial lawyers,” said Section Chair Mitchell J. Katz of Syracuse (Menter, Rudin & Trivelpiece).

    Mark A. Berman of New York City (Ganfer & Shore) was chair of the section when the study took place and is credited in the report for his leadership and support of the initiative.

    The report is available at


    Seymour W. James, Jr., attorney-in-chief of The Legal Aid Society in New York City, has been recognized with the 2017 Robert L. Haig Award, given by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association.

    James heads the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit legal services organization, which annually handles 300,000 individual cases and matters. James was first hired by the Legal Aid Society in 1974 and has held various supervisory positions within the organization. He was the first attorney of color appointed as the attorney-in-charge of its criminal practice, the largest public defender group in the country and the main provider of indigent defense in New York City.

    “Mr. James has devoted his life to equal justice and his entire legal career of more than 40 years to ensuring that underserved New Yorkers receive high quality representation,” said Mark Berman of New York City (Ganfer & Shore), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “He is a model for our younger generation of attorneys.”
    James served as president of the New York State Bar Association in 2012-13 and has been active in the State Bar since 1978, including three terms as treasurer and as the vice president for the 11th district. His other activities have included serving on the state Permanent Sentencing Commission, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, and the Committee on Character and Fitness for the Second Judicial Department.

    The Robert L. Haig Award is given each year to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service. Haig, a litigator at Kelley Drye in New York City, was the founder and first chair of the Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section.

    Tracee E. Davis of New York City (Zeichner, Ellman & Krause), a past section chair, presented the award to James during the section’s Spring meeting in Saratoga Springs May 20.


    As the use of social media by attorneys and clients continues to grow, so do the ethics issues facing lawyers. In response, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association has updated its Social Media Ethics Guidelines to assist lawyers in understanding these social media challenges.
    “Whether you are a litigator, transactional attorney, in-house counsel or attorney who uses social media to communicate, blog, or solicit business, you should know the risks and benefits of social media use,” said Mark Berman (Ganfer & Shore), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “The latest edition of the Guidelines continues to lead the New York State Bar Association efforts in this regard.”

    First issued in 2014, the third edition of the Guidelines follows the structure of its predecessors, and contains new guidance on attorney advertising, responding to online reviews, and potential conflicts regarding an attorney’s social media posts.

    The new edition reflects and references, both in revised text and footnotes, developments in case law and ethics opinions from around the country. The latest version also aims to help lawyers by providing a new appendix of key social media terms and descriptions of popular social media platforms.

    This updated version of the Guidelines is the first since 2015. The section’s original 2014 version received national recognition and has been cited in ethics opinions of other bar associations. The section’s Social Media Committee is co-chaired by Ronald J. Hedges (Dentons) and Ignatius Grande (Hughes Hubbard & Reed).

    “The original intent of our committee in issuing these Guidelines was to make it easier for attorneys to comply with the various ethics opinions, which have been issued over the past 10
    years addressing social media,” said Grande. “We are proud of the impact that the Guidelines have had not just in New York, but throughout the country.”
    The Guidelines, which are advisory, are available at


    June 2017
    May 2017
    April 2017
    March 2017
    February 2017
    January 2017
    December 2016
    December 6, 2016 (special meeting of the EC) 
    November 2016
    October 2016

    September 2016
    June 2016

    Join the Section!

  • Section Publications


    The NYLitigator features peer-written substantive articles relating to the practice of commercial and federal litigation on various topics, including discovery; mediation; settlements; corporate liability; and due process. Section Reports, written by various Commercial and Federal Litigation Committees, are often featured in each issue. The NYLitigator is published by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and distributed to Section Members free of charge.
    Read Now>


    The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter features updates on Section activities, programs and events; recent legislation; and information about current issues. The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Newsletter is published three times per year by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section and distributed to Section members free of charge.
    Read Now>

  • Commercial Division Video

    The Commercial Division Advisory Council has produced a new version of its short film about the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court. The film features eleven General Counsel of major corporations speaking about the Commercial Division. 

    The film portrays some of the recent improvements to the Commercial Division’s rules, procedures, and operations which have been designed to be responsive to the needs and concerns of the business community. The ultimate goal of these changes is to make the business litigation process in New York more cost‑effective, predictable, and expeditious, and to thereby provide a more hospitable and attractive environment for business litigation in New York State.

    See the video here: