Weekend with the Stars Seminar: Stars Aren't Born. They're Made. | The American Association For Justice

Weekend with the Stars Seminar: Stars Aren't Born. They're Made.

December 6, 2019 to December 7, 2019
Program Information:

The Westin New York at Times Square | New York, NY

Presented with the New York State Trial Lawyers Association 
Endowed by Herman Herman & Katz, LLC
Sponsored by Lisa Blue and Williams Hart
Sponsored by Consumer Attorney Marketing Group (CAMG) and Synergy Settlement Services

​About the Seminar:

Stars aren’t born. They’re made. 

Our trial lawyer legends learned from the giants of the profession. They’ve taken those lessons, tinkered, and tested them at trial—to make them their own. Now they share the “why and how” behind their successes so that you can learn and apply techniques to achieve even greater results for your clients. Strategy combines with storytelling in a fast-paced, rotating-topic, two-day seminar (covering everything from case narratives to voir dire to marketing and technology!) You’ll be energized by the intensity, passion, and depth of knowledge of the diverse roster of speakers.

Hear from AAJ President Bruce Stern:


Registration Fees:

$995 for AAJ Members
$1195 for Nonmembers 

Online registration for this program has closed. Please register onsite at the Westin New York at Times Square. 

If you are an AAJ member and have been admitted to the bar for five years or less, you can attend this seminar for 50% off. (Does not apply if you have previously attended an AAJ Education seminar or college). Discount not available online, please call AAJ Education to take advantage.
AAJ Paralegal Affiliates may attend this college and receive 50% off the registration fee if they are employed by and attending with an AAJ plaintiff attorney from the same firm with the same firm address. Discount not available online, please call AAJ Education to take advantage.

Not an AAJ member? Call us at 202-965-3500, ext. 8612 to register.

Contact AAJ Education: 800-622-1791 | 202-965-3500, ext. 8612 | education@justice.org


Thursday, December 5

Welcome Networking Reception
5:30 - 6:30pm

Friday, December 6

Tackling Your Toughest Cases from Top to Bottom

Registration and Welcome Networking Breakfast
7:45 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 12:30pm
• Craft your Narrative: Planning and Delivering a Compelling Opening Statement
• Developing Visuals to Engage the Decision-Maker and Enhance Your Arguments
• Strategic Decision Making in a Complex, Catastrophic Case
• A Collective Voice for Justice

Networking Lunch
12:30 - 1:45pm

Afternoon Session
1:45 - 5:00pm
• Exposing Biases During Voir Dire
• Streamlining Trial: Why, When, And How to Try Even the Most Complicated Case in Five Days 

Saturday, December 7

Modern Firm Management, Marketing, and Technology

Welcome Back Networking Breakfast
8:00 - 8:45am

Morning Session
8:45am - 12:00pm
• Ethical Considerations When Integrating New Technology In Your Office
• Trialpad, Transcriptpad, and Other User-Friendly, Cost-Effective Technology to Embrace In Your Next Trial or Mediation
• Stand Out From the Competition: 2020’s Top Five Marketing Trends for Trial Lawyers 


Invited Faculty:

Michael A. Kelly

Michael A. Kelly is the managing shareholder of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. He is a former Cal-American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Trial Lawyer of the Year and a four-time “Trial Lawyer of the Year” nominee of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA). He has tried cases in most of the Superior Courts of Northern California, the Northern California Federal District Court, the Los Angeles Superior Court, and the Orange County Superior Court. He is a past-president of SFTLA and the San Francisco chapter of ABOTA. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the Irish 100. He has served on the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions Committee since 2003. He taught as an Assistant Professor of Law at UC Hastings from 1981 – 2000. He has presented at more than 200 CLE programs for Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), The Rutter Group, 360 Advocacy, Practising Law Institute, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, ABOTA, and AAJ. He is a recipient of the CAOC Robert Cartwright Award for advocacy teaching. His practice includes catastrophic injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, and drug and device defects. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, is located in San Francisco, California.

James B. Lees, Jr.

James B. Lees, Jr. is a former co-chair of AAJ’S National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees, a Diplomate of AAJ’s NCA, an AAJ PAC donor, and a frequent lecturer and teacher of trial tactics throughout the United States. He is a nationally recognized trial attorney and communications consultant, a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law, and a former Deputy District Attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he successfully prosecuted 44 first degree murder cases and six death penalty cases. In private practice since 1984, Mr. Lees has litigated both civil and criminal cases throughout the United States and has tried over 250 jury trials to verdict. Together with Alabama-based attorney Greg Cusimano, Mr. Lees created the five-part DVD series Commanding the Courtroom, the quintessential “how-to” video series for litigation and case development strategy, available from the American Association for Justice. Mr. Lees now consults frequently throughout North America on persuasive communications for attorneys, businesses, and political candidates and has lectured on the use of psychology and persuasion in over thirty states in the United States, as well as in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. He has personally conducted over 900 focus groups over the past decade and has appeared as a guest on ABC’s Good Morning America, anchored a state-wide radio talk show, taught persuasion techniques at Harvard Law School, and written a monthly newspaper column. Mr. Lees ran for governor of West Virginia in 2000 and is the owner and operator of Hunt & Lees, LC, located in Charleston, West Virginia.

Linda A. Lipsen, CEO, American Association for Justice

Linda A. Lipsen was named Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), in April 2010. She joined the organization in 1993 to direct AAJ’s Public Affairs department.
Ms. Lipsen has led the trial lawyers’ highly regarded Washington lobby team and successfully fought back efforts that would limit access to America’s courts and make it impossible for the victims of negligence or willful wrongdoing to be fairly compensated for harm. She has directed countless legislative campaigns on behalf of a host of issues including patient, worker, and investor protections.

Ms. Lipsen has received prominent recognition and numerous awards for her advocacy on behalf of injured Americans, including, among others, the “Senator Paul Wellstone Award” from U.S. Action, the “Esther SWeissman Eternal Optimism Award” from Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), and the Marie Lambert Award. She is regularly recognized in leading Capitol Hill and legal publications such as The National Law Journal as one of Washington’s most influential women lawyers, The Hill as a top lobbyist in recognition of her outstanding professional achievement and Roll Call as one of Washington’s most effective lobbyists.

Following the tragedy of September 11th, she led the fight for enactment of a compensation program for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund established by Congress allowed thousands of families to recover compensation for the loss of their loved ones.  Following enactment of the Fund, Ms. Lipsen’s leadership helped ATLA establish, Trial Lawyers Care, the nation’s largest-ever pro-bono legal representation program.

Prior to joining AAJ, Ms. Lipsen directed the legislative advocacy program for Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.  In that capacity, she represented consumers on Capitol Hill on a host of issues including antitrust, insurance reform and health care. Ms. Lipsen earned her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.

Michele S. Mirman, moderator

Michele S. Mirman, moderator, has been an active member of the New York State Bar for 40 years.  She is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Florida and Washington D.C., as well as the Federal Courts of New Jersey and the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and is a member of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Mrs. Mirman is President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, immediate Past President of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, has served on judiciary rating committees for different New York State organizationsearned Lifetime Achievement to America’s top 100 Attorneys, is recognized as a high stakes litigator and enjoys an outstanding 10 ranking from Avvo. Mrs. Mirman’s trial experience focuses on resolving serious personal injury and wrongful death cases that include, medical malpractice, assault, and injuries resulting from defective machinery and equipment.  In 1985 she won the then highest verdict in the United States ($4 million) on behalf of a rape victim. Mirman Markovits & Landau is located in New York City, New York.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi 

Robert J. Mongeluzzi is a founder of the law firm of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky and practices out of their Philadelphia office. He concentrates his practice in catastrophic injury and wrongful death stemming from electrical, construction, crane, and aerial lift accidents, brain and burn injuries, product liability, and sports and recreational accidents. Mr. Mongeluzzi was named Philadelphia’s 2009 Litigator of the Year and was selected as one of the 500 Best Attorneys in American by Lawdragon. He is the founder and cochair of the American Association for Justice’s Crane and Aerial Litigation Group and Electrical Accidents Group, served on AAJ’s Board of Governors, and is a past president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. He is the author of a chapter on construction accident litigation in Tort Litigation (AAJ Press), has taught on topics relating to construction and workplace accident cases nationwide, and has appeared frequently in print and media as a legal expert on construction and workplace accidents. Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in Philadelphia, Media, and Norristown, Pennsylvania and Marlton, New Jersey.

Kathleen L. Nastri

Kathleen L. Nastri concentrates her practice in medical malpractice, personal injury, and other complex cases. She is a past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers' Association (CTLA) and is a past president of AAJ. Ms. Nastri serves on AAJ’s Board of Governors and PAC Board of Trustees, is a member of the Professional Negligence Section, and donates to AAJ PAC. Before joining Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, PC, she had been head of the Plaintiff's Personal Injury Practice Group at a Waterbury-based law firm, where she began assisting clients in 1986. She is admitted to practice at the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as Connecticut state courts. Ms. Nastri is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, PC, an AAJ Leaders Forum Member, is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Jerome F. O’Neill, course advisor

Jerome F. O’Neill, course advisor, concentrates his practice in litigation on behalf of injured persons and their survivors and commercial litigation. He has served three times as a co-chair of AAJ’s National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees, is chair of AAJ’s Jury Bias Litigation Group, and is chair of the Child Sex Abuse Litigation Group.  He has served as cochair of the Election Committee, chair of the Litigation Group Leaders Council, and member of the Organization Review Committee and Judicial Independence Committee. He has been a member of the AAJ Board of Governors for over 30 years. He has taught nationwide on trial advocacy topics and was the senior partner of O’Neill Kellner & Green for 26 years prior to joining Gravel & Shea. He is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell and received the Wiedemann & Wysocki Award from AAJ in 2012 and the AAJ Distinguished Service Award in 2016. He is a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers; a past president of the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association; a past president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association; and member of the Vermont Supreme Court Evidence Rules Advisory Committee.  Gravel & Shea, PC is located in Burlington, Vermont.

Elise R. Sanguinetti, course advisor

Elise R. Sanguinetti, course advisor, focus her practice in serious injury, wrongful death cases, civil appeals, and legal malpractice. She exclusively represents plaintiffs in civil litigation and holds an “AV” rating with Martindale-Hubbell and has been named a California Super Lawyer every year since becoming eligible. The last two years she was named one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Bay Area. Ms. Sanguinetti is the Immediate Past President of AAJ, was the president of the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) from 2015 to 2016, and a past president of the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association. She generously donates to AAJ PAC. Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos LLP, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Las Vegas, and Montreal. Ms. Sanguinetti practices out of the Oakland, California office.

Chris Searcy

Chris Searcy has litigated cases primarily involving catastrophic injury and death in venues throughout Florida, as well as other states. Mr. Searcy is former President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Foundation, and is named in The Best Lawyers in America, an independent study by Harvard trained attorneys. Mr. Searcy has been selected as one of Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America, “Hall of Fame.”  Mr. Searcy is a member of The Inner Circle of Advocates, which is by invitation only and limits its membership to the top 100 trial lawyers in the United States. Mr. Searcy is a past President of the Florida Justice Association, formerly known as The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and currently serves on the Constitutional Revision Committee.  He is a diplomate of the American Association for Justice and the past President of The National Trial Lawyers Association. Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee, Florida.

Bruce H. Stern, moderator

Bruce H. Stern, moderator, serves as the current President of the American Association for Justice. He is a shareholder and member of the Personal Injury Group of Stark & Stark. He concentrates his practice in the area of trucking and construction litigation, brain and spinal cord injuries, and wrongful death. Mr. Stern is a past president of the New Jersey Association for Justice and a recipient of its highest award, the Gold Medal for Distinguished Service. He also received the Trial Bar Award for distinguished service in the cause of justice from the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey. Mr. Stern is a founding member and past chair of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of AAJ. He also has served as chair of AAJ’s Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section. He serves as Treasurer of the International Brain Injury Association and the North American Brain Injury Society. Stark & Stark, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in Princeton, New Jersey; Marlton, New Jersey; Yardley, Pennsylvania; Morristown, New Jersey; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Bridgeton, New Jersey; and Woodstown, New Jersey.

Tad Thomas 

Tad Thomas practices solely in the area of civil litigation with his primary focus being in the areas of products liability, motor vehicle, trucking and motorcycle collisions, and nursing home neglect and abuse. Mr. Thomas is a nationally recognized lecturer and has conducted seminars on technology and ethics across the country. He is admitted to practice in Kentucky, Illinois, New York, and numerous federal district and circuit courts of appeals. He is a cum laude graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University and obtained his undergraduate degree from Georgetown College. Mr. Thomas currently serves as AAJ’s Secretary, and is an active member of AAJ’s Executive Committee, Marketing and Practice Development Committee, AAJ PAC Task Force, Convention Planning Committee, Law Schools Committee, National Finance Council, Membership Oversight Committee, and Legal Affairs Committee. Thomas Law Offices, PLLC, an AAJ Leaders Forum member, has offices in Louisville, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

Argyrios (“Gyi”) E. Tsakalakis

Argyrios (“Gyi”) E. Tsakalakis has been helping lawyers use the internet to receive clients since 2008. As a non-practicing lawyer, he is familiar with the unique considerations and challenges of effectively marketing a law practice. Mr. Tsakalakis is regularly invited to teach lawyers about online legal marketing and has recently done presentations for AAJ, Chicago Bar Association’s (CBA) Law Practice Management Section, and AVVO’s Lawyernomics Conference. He is currently a member of AAJ. Mr. Tsakalakis is the co-founder and director of AttorneySync, located in Chicago, IL.

Aimee H. Wagstaff, course advisor

Aimee H. Wagstaff, course advisor, concentrates her practice in professional liability, products liability, mass torts, sports law, drug and medical device, commercial, and personal injury litigation. Ms. Wagstaff was appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee for JCCP 4775, In Re: Risperdal Product Liability Case. She was also appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for C.R. Bard, Inc, Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2187). She was appointed to serve on the National Executive Committee overseeing TVM MDLs and to serve as national co-lead for In Re:  Boston Scientific Corp. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2326). She is a member of AAJ’s Transvaginal Mesh Litigation Group and Pain Pumps – Chondrolysis Litigation Group, and was a member of the Professional Negligence Section. She is also a member of the Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Colorado Trial Lawyers Association.  Ms. Wagstaff is a founding partner of Andrus Wagstaff located in Lakewood, CO.

Diandra (“Fu”) Debrosse Zimmermann 

Diandra (“Fu”) Debrosse Zimmermann focuses her practice on the representation of public entities, and on complex litigation, including pharmaceutical, medical device, data breach, and environmental contamination litigation. Among her many accolades, Ms. Debrosse, was selected by the National Trial Lawyers in the “Top 40 Under 40,” as well as the “Top 10 Under 40” for the State of Alabama by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, Inc. She was named to The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100, recognized in the list of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, selected for inclusion to Alabama Super Lawyers for several years, and named as a Top Woman Attorney by B-Metro magazine. Ms. Debrosse serves on the Board of Governors for AAJ, the Board of Governors of the Southern Trial Lawyer Association, and is a current member of the Board of Bar Commissioners for the Alabama State Bar. Ms. Debrosse served two terms as a member of the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Bar Association, is a former President of the Magic City Bar Association, and is a past Vice President of the Alabama State Bar. Grant & Eisenhofer, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in Wilmington, Delaware; New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Debrosse practices out of the firm’s Birmingham office.


AAJ has a limited number of rooms available at the Westin New York at Times Square at a special group rate of $399 per night for single or double occupancy, plus any applicable taxes (currently 14.75%) and fees. To reserve a room, please click HERE or call the hotel reservation line at 1-888-236-2427 and state you are booking with the American Association for Justice. For cancellations or alterations to existing reservations, contact the hotel directly. AAJ is not responsible for cancellation or early departure fees.
The cut-off date for reservations is Wednesday, November 15, 2019. 
The Westin New York at Times Square
270 West 43rd Street 
New York, New York 10036
Phone: (212) 201-2700


Who should attend:

Non-AAJ Members are welcome to attend AAJ Education's Weekend with the Stars Seminar—invite a plaintiff trial lawyer colleague! However attendance is limited to those engaged primarily in civil plaintiff representation or criminal defense representation. 

Program Location:

The Westin New York at Times Square
270 W. 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036
(212) 201-2700


Call us. We'll provide you with names and phone numbers of previous attendees of AAJ Education programs who will be pleased to answer your questions. Or, if you prefer to speak with a course advisor or faculty member, we will arrange that as well. Call 800.622.1791 or 202.965.3500, ext. 8612.

MCLE/NCA Requirements:

AAJ has filed for MCLE credit in the appropriate jurisdictions.  Registered participants can receive CLE* credits depending on the jurisdiction and will be applied to your participation in AAJ’s professional recognition program. AAJ Education programs are routinely accredited by states requiring continuing legal education. Available CLE/MCLE credits are contingent upon approval from state bars and/or MCLE boards and may vary by jurisdiction. CLE questions may be addressed by calling the CLE Assistant at 800-424-2725, ext. 8612 or 202-965-3500, ext. 8612.​

To learn more about AAJ's Masters of Trial Law professional recognition program call 800.622.1791 or 202.965.3500, ext. 8612, or CLICK HERE. The Masters of Trial Law program recognizes Fellow, Diplomate, and Champion status for AAJ members. To gain MTL credits, submit a certificate of attendance for every seminar, college, and convention you attend.

* Number of credits may vary depending on calculation method used by individual state accreditation agencies. AAJ is a State Bar of California MCLE-approved provider.

Special Assistance:

AAJ Education will make every effort to ensure that its meetings are held in facilities that are fully accessible to persons with mobility disabilities. If you plan to attend our program and need special facilities or assistance relating to a disability, please call 800-622-1791 or 202-965-3500, ext. 8612.

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations received in writing on or before November 28, 2019, will result in a refund less a 10% administrative charge. Cancellations received in writing November 29-December 3, 2019, will result in a voucher for the entire registration fee, which may be applied toward any AAJ Education college, seminar, or webinar held within one calendar year of the date of issue. Requests for refunds or vouchers received within 48 hours of the program will not be honored. AAJ is not responsible for any room cancellation fees or other travel fees which result from your cancellation. Cancellation requests must be made in writing. Fax or email your cancellation letter to the registrar at 202-625-7084 or education@justice.org.

Contribute to the AAJ Education Fund:

Please consider a donation to the AAJ Education Fund 501(c)(3). Contributions support educational programs and activities to preserve and protect the civil justice system. Learn more>>

Terms and Conditions:

The American Association for Justice reserves the right to, in its sole discretion, refuse entrance to the event and/or remove any individual from the event whose behavior is disruptive and/or is not consistent with the character and purpose of the event. All American Association for Justice badges are the property of the American Association for Justice and must be returned upon request. 

By registering for this AAJ Education program, you agree to receive electronic, written, and telephonic communication from AAJ staff regarding the program and to have your name, firm, city, and state included on the participant and exhibitor/sponsor roster. AAJ may also need to contact you to service your membership record or to provide you with information about your membership, products and services, and advocacy and legislative updates. By providing your contact information, including phone number, fax number, and email address, you consent and give permission for AAJ to contact you by any of those means, which may include calls to your mobile phone, faxes, or emails. You and your guests also agree to be included in AAJ’s social networking campaign and to have your image photographed and published in AAJ’s membership publications and website. 

You may contact AAJ at any time to change your preferences.

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