ComCom Hosts Successful Eighth Annual Commercial Litigation Conference at Suffolk Law

Issue July/August 2023 August 2023 By Nicholas D. Stellakis and Robert F. Callahan Jr.
Complex Commercial Litigation Section Review
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From left: Nicholas D. Stellakis and Robert F. Callahan Jr.

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s Eighth Annual Complex Commercial Litigation Conference was held on April 25, 2023, at Suffolk Law School in Boston, sponsored by the Complex Commercial Litigation Section.

This year’s conference featured a thoughtful and personal keynote address from Supreme Judicial Court Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt, along with two panel discussions and a networking reception.

The first panel consisted of U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs and Superior Court Justices Hélène Kazanjian and Peter Krupp, moderated Kelley Jordan-Price of Hinckley Allen. The lively discussion touched on many topics of interest to the bar, such as the enduring use of videoconferences in lieu of in-person hearings, enforcement of meet-and-confer obligations and the detail necessary in describing efforts to meet and confer, the utility of summary judgment motions and motions for partial summary judgment, the helpfulness of the statements of undisputed fact that accompany summary judgment motions, the use of motions to strike, when oral argument is allowed, the use of demonstratives at argument hearings, when and how alternative dispute resolution is raised in court, extensions of time for discovery, and the need to ensure that newer lawyers received courtroom experience.

The second panel discussed intellectual-property issues that arise in business litigation and bankruptcy. This panel featured Jennifer Furey of Goulston & Storrs, Krish Gupta of Dell Technologies and Justin Kesselman of ArentFox Schiff, moderated by Robert Callahan Jr. of Robins Kaplan. The panelists provided important insight into the contexts in which IP issues can arise and what business litigation practitioners need to be aware of in their practice: disputed ownership of IP when an inventor-employee leaves employment for a competitor, when a new employee seeks to carve out their existing IP from their employment contract when being onboarded, thorny issues surrounding open-source software and generative coding, and how IP issues intersect with bankruptcy and the need to be vigilant receiving notices regarding executory contracts and notices of potential assignments.

Wendlandt concluded the conference with a stirring and memorable keynote address on the importance of one’s identity and finding one’s life path, and our responsibility to use our professional training to stand up for justice and righteous causes. “The greatest honor of being a lawyer is being uniquely placed in a position where you can champion and advocate for change, especially for those who do not enjoy the same privileges as you.”

We thank ComCom Chair Jessica Kelly and Vice Chair Kenneth Thayer, the entire ComCom council, and of course the speakers and moderators for helping make this program successful. 

Robert Callahan of Robins Kaplan and Nicholas Stellakis of Hunton Andrews Kurth chaired this year’s conference.

The conference is available via MBA On Demand

Nicholas D. Stellakis is counsel in Hunton’s issues and appeals practice group. He represents clients in a wide variety of litigation matters, including corporate, small-business, contract, insurance-coverage, maritime, and general business litigation.

Robert F. Callahan Jr. is an associate in the Boston office of Robins Kaplan LLP. His national practice focuses on trial and appellate advocacy in the areas of intellectual property and complex commercial litigation. Callahan is also a graduate of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Leadership Academy.