Weekend with the Stars Seminar: Overcome Your Biggest Challenges in 2020 | The American Association For Justice

Weekend with the Stars Seminar: Overcome Your Biggest Challenges in 2020

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) 

​About the Seminar:

The American Association for Justice's signature winter event—Weekend with the Stars—is back! Join your colleagues at the exciting Westin New York at Times Square in midtown Manhattan and hear legendary trial attorneys share their experiences and insights gained through hundreds of jury trials.

This is your opportunity to get away. Take in a Broadway show, dine in midtown, and shop on Fifth Avenue, as you make the most of your time in New York during the best time of the year.  

Prepare for the New Year with a fresh perspective.

Registration Fees:

On or before September 13, 2019: $895 for AAJ Members | $1095 for Nonmembers
After September 13, 2019: $995 for AAJ Members | $1195 for Nonmembers​ 

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

Due to technical difficulties, our online registration has been temporarily suspended.  Please call 800.622.1791 or 202.965.3500, ext. 8612 to register over the phone.  Calls will be answered during AAJ Education's business hours, Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-5:30PM.  Please leave a voicemail or email education@justice.org if you want to register outside of business hours.  Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience.


Friday, December 6

Registration and Welcome Networking Breakfast
7:30 - 8:30am

Morning Session
8:30am - 12:15pm
• The Devil Is in the Details: Crafting Your Discovery Strategy to Systematically Uncover Abuse, Fraud, and Negligence in the Catastrophic Case
• Developing Visuals to Engage the Decision-Maker and Enhance Your Arguments
• Craft your Narrative: Planning and Delivering a Compelling Opening Statement
• A Collective Voice for Justice

Networking Lunch
12:15 - 1:30pm

Afternoon Session
1:30 - 5:00pm
• Exposing Biases During Voir Dire
• Closing Arguments
• Streamlining Trial: Why, When, And How to Try Even the Most Complicated Case in Five Days 

Saturday, December 7

Networking Breakfast
8:00 - 8:45am

Morning Session
8:45am - 1:00pm
• 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
• Work Smarter, Not Harder-- The Trial Lawyers Guide to Increase Productivity, Motivate Staff, and Improve Client Satisfaction
• Stand Out From the Competition: 2020’s Top Five Marketing Trends for Trial Lawyers 


Invited Faculty:

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.

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.

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.

Larry R. Rogers, Jr.

Larry R. Rogers, Jr. has committed himself to being an advocate for victims and victims rights. Mr. Rogers has been appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Assistance Program, where he has served since 2003. In 2009, he was appointed by United States District Court Chief Judge James Holderman to the Magistrate Judge Merit Review Panel and he has served as a judicial evaluator for the Illinois State, Chicago, and Cook County Bar Associations. He has been voted a "Super Lawyer" by his peers and is a member of the American Association for Justice, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, National Bar Association, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Cook County Bar Association. In 1999, he was elected Vice-President of the National Bar Association (YLD) for 2000-01 and he was elected to serve as chairperson of various committees within the bar and community at large. Mr. Rogers is also a member of the NAACP and other civic and community organizations. The law firm of Power Rogers & Smith, an AAJ Leaders Forum  firm, is located in Chicago, Illinois.

Elise Sanguinetti, course advisor

Elise 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.

Christian D. Searcy

Christian D. 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, formerly known as The American Trial Lawyers Association. Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, an AAJ Leaders Forum firm, has offices in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee, Florida.

Bruce Stern, moderator

Bruce 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. Currently, Ms. Debrosse represents dozens of cities and counties against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors in the Opiate MDL. 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. 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 Wilmington 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 6, 2019. 
The Westin New York at Times Square
270 West 43rd Street 
New York, New York 10036
Phone: (212) 201-2700

Who should attend:

This is an open program—invite a plaintiff trial lawyer colleague!

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 may contact AAJ at any time to change your preferences.

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