|Steve Susman, Susman Godfrey|
Steve Susman has been trying lawsuits for 50 years. In 2016 he was among 6 lawyers honored by the American Lawyer for his lifetime achievements as a trial lawyer and reformer. Forty years ago, he founded Susman Godfrey, the country’s first commercial litigation boutique, specializing in representing plaintiffs on a contingent fee basis in complex business disputes including antitrust and securities fraud class actions. The firm now has four offices around the country and more than 100 trial lawyers. Because he was a pioneer in creating fee arrangements that compensate trial counsel for results rather than effort, Susman has devoted his career to eliminating unnecessary expense in trying cases. In the mid-90s, as chair of the Texas Supreme Court Discovery Advisory Committee, Susman succeeded in having Texas adopt rules that limited discovery. In 1998, he was a member of the ABA’s Task Force that wrote the original Civil Trial Practice Standards. Taking that one step further, Susman has urged lawyers and courts to encourage the parties to agree upon their own rules to streamline trials and reduce expenses. He has developed and maintained TrialbyAgreement.com, a website that allows counsel and judges to communicate about innovative discovery and trial protocols. He was a member of the Federal Circuit’s Committee on limiting e-discovery and he co-chaired the trial committee of the SDNY’s task force to implement a pilot project for expediting civil jury trials.
Most recently, Susman has been on a crusade to save jury trials in civil cases. Susman was indoctrinated in the value of trial by jury while serving as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, unquestionably the Court’s most staunch defender of juries in modern times. Now Susman has established The Civil Jury Project at NYU Law School. Mr. Susman is still trying cases while serving as the Executive Director of the Project. He is a frequent lecturer on trial advocacy skills at CLE programs around the country. And he often speaks to judges about innovations designed to make jury trials less expensive and more comprehensible.
1:30pm - 2:30pm - It’s Not Your Parents’ Courtroom: How to Try a Case to Today’s Judge or Jury