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Fed Court Boot Camp Conference (8th Annual): Learn the Do’s and Don’ts (IL)

Audio program! (check our CLE Programs page for live versions)

For seven years, our Federal Court Boot Camp has taught thousands of attorneys about the ins-and-outs of Federal Court. The program is both a litigation primer and a primer for litigating in Federal Court.

Attendees have rated our faculty so highly that many of the faculty return to teach year after year (and some have taught every single year).

This litigation CLE course will walk you through the essential components and tasks involved in your case, from start to finish.  You’ll learn both the rules and tasks, as well as the skills and techniques, you need to be a more effective litigator in Federal Court.

Our faculty usually includes District Court and Magistrate Judges with the Federal Court, throughout Illinois, as well as career law clerks who can provide you a unique perspective and an inside look at what the court wants and does not want when you practice there.

Take a look at our detailed agenda and see why our Federal Court Boot Camp CLE program is the best in the state.

This program was recorded in 2017.

What You Will Learn


Complaint and Answer Advice and Strategies

Case Scheduling and the Case Management Conference in Federal Court


  • 2015 Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure
    • Scope of discovery / proportionality
    • Requests for production and responses
    • Failure to preserve / sanctions
    • How courts have interpreted them
  • E-discovery
    • Overview and considerations
    • Sources and preservation
    • Authentication
    • Federal Rule of Evidence 502

Depo Strategies

  • Federal v. State differences
  • Strategy
  • Deciding whom to depose
  • Taking good depositions
  • Making effective use of depositions at trial

Ex Parte Motions


Oral Argument Tips

Rule 12 and Other Motions

  • Top ten tips for drafting Rule 12(b)(6) motions, responses, and replies.
  • How to enhance the effectiveness of memoranda addressing motions to dismiss
  • How to address procedural issues that frequently arise when briefing motions to dismiss

Drafting and Replying to Motions for Summary Judgment

  • Strategically Selecting Your Issues
  • Plaintiffs’-side and Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment
  • “No evidence” Summary Judgment Motions
  • Managing and Effectively Presenting a Voluminous Record
  • Rule 56.1 Fact Statements
    • Top 10 tips for preparing Local Rule 56.1 fact statements and responses
    • How to avoid common mistakes and procedural pitfalls that can lead to an adverse ruling
    • How to use the often under-appreciated fact statement to your advantage

Heading to Trial and Pre-Trial Matters

  • Trial Briefs
  • Pretrial Statement
  • Pretrial Conference and Order (FRCP 16)
  • Your Jury Questionnaire and Voir Dire Tips
  • Jury Instructions – pitfalls & best practices
  • Jury Verdict Forms – pitfalls & best practices
  • Motions in Limine
  • Dealing with your Evidence/Strategies

Your Trial

  • Opening Statements
  • Introduction of Exhibits
  • Direct and Cross-Examinations
    • Purpose, audience and format requirements
    • Basic direct examination skills
    • Basic cross examination skills
    • When and how to make appropriate objections
  • Evidentiary Objections
  • Preserving the Record for Appeal
  • Closing Arguments


“The program is fantastic! I was so impressed by the depth and content of each speaker’s oral presentations and course materials. The program was great. I am so glad I came.” – Laura Lee Robinson, Esq.

“I thought the deposition, MSJ, and trial tips were very helpful and informative…Ms. McNally was a great instructor. She had a lot of very useful tips, strategies, [and] practice pointers. I learned a lot from her presentations.” – Mikayla Hamilton, Esq.

“[Laura McNally was] great! Loved the PowerPoints and MSJ advice she gave.” – Maria Magginas, Esq.

“The information, especially about the 2015 FRCP amendments, was very helpful. [My] practice has increased in Federal Court so this information is increasingly relevant to me…Great presentation [by Matt Bills]. I learned a lot of new things that are extremely pertinent to [my] practice.”

“This gave me a good overview of federal court practice, and pointed me towards other helpful resources…Thanks for giving a few spots to legal aid. We really appreciate it!” – Kathryn Socha, Esq.

“Good information on depositions, especially pertaining to entities…[and] Mr. Bolton gave excellent advice and presentation.” – Nathan A. Frisch, Esq.

“Excellent overview of complaint and answer strategies.” – Jenna Milaeger, Esq.

“Excellent.” – Julia Funke, Esq.

“Good program with useful info.” – Jeff Hamera, Esq.

“[Brad Nahrstadt’s presentation] was extremely informative – lots of good ideas and tips…[I also] liked having the judge’s input on attorney practice, rule changes, and goals met by said changes, etc.”

“General tips about oral argument…was most helpful.”

“[Laura McNally was] very helpful. Excellent speaker. Very knowledgeable. [Mike Leonard] was really great…Stellar afternoon speakers!”

“Great program.”

“There were a lot of good tips and the materials were good.”

There was a lot of good information provided in the program.”

“[Laura McNally was] personable and conveyed her experience well. Her spotlight analogy regarding direct- and cross-examination was terrific.”

“I definitely learned a lot.”

“Very satisfied. Lots of techniques that can be incorporated into my career.”
“Learned some good litigation tips.”

“[Brad Nahrstadt] was very engaging and I learned so much.”

“Deposition [strategies was] a good presentation. Good practical advice. Reid Bolton [also] did a great job presenting – very practical advice.”

“The seminar was excellent – very helpful in my development for practicing in federal court. It provided a lot of practical advice in one day. The judges were very helpful in providing the perspective from the bench.” – Rob Harrer, Esq.

“Our firm is beginning to take on more federal cases. This covered everything I wanted. The program was fantastic.” – Peter Beake, Esq.

“I’m very happy with the topics that were covered. Excellent seminar! I will recommend this to other attorneys!” – Sarah Hertz, Esq.

“Very satisfied. It was an efficient use of time. [The seminar had] well-prepared presenters, good written materials and the staff/facilitators were well-organized.” – Michael P. Coghlan, Esq.

“I am agency counsel, so I don’t practice in Federal Court, but rather assist the AUSAs with the case against staff. This training was very helpful to me to get a better understanding of why the AUSAs request or need certain information. It was also helpful for me to know how I can assist them better.” – Amy Standefer Mallott

“This program allows attorneys to ask ‘dumb questions’ they can’t ask the firm, and gives the background for a lot of topics they haven’t been exposed to yet. This eliminates the need to do preliminary research on only background guidance.” – Kerri Feczko, Esq.

“Great format and presentation.”

“Great to have federal judges present!”

“Well done.”

“Best CLE program I’ve been to, because it was comprehensive.” – Ronald Boggs, Esq.

“The Federal Rules Course in Chicago was outstanding.  Rick Levin, Brad Nahrstadt and their group of outstanding attorneys worked hard and delivered a most thoughtful scholarly presentation.” – B.F. Natarus, Esq.

”Good straight forward presentation. Clear and concise.” – Randy Wolf, Esq.

“Insightful discussion as to what clerks and judges are looking for.” – Richard Lehman, Esq.

“Very informative and insightful commentary…” – Tim Lessman, Esq.

“…insightful and educational on a wide variety of federal court subjects.” – Jonathan Wassell, Esq.

“Good nuts and bolts of federal practice.”

”I learned a lot about depositions regardless of fed vs. state.” – Lucas Sun, Esq.

“This was a great refresher course.”

“Good overview before delving into specifics of each topic, easy to keep up with all the information.”

“A great teacher! Appreciated his giving context for the topic he covered. Intro on e-discovery was very helpful.”

“Very relevant.” – Jeffrey A. Goodloe, Esq.

“Excellent – very thorough!” – Steve McMullen, Esq.

“Good overview from start to finish.” – Kevin Halverson, Esq.

“This was an excellent seminar!” – Charles P. Romaker, Esq.

“I liked comparisons between state and federal court.” – Lisa Clay, Esq.

“Great pointers and good checklist materials.” – Amy Wilson


Hon. David G. Bernthal, (Ret.)
ADR Systems

Following ten years in private practice, Mr. Bernthal was appointed Associate Circuit Judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Thereafter, he was selected to serve as United States Magistrate Judge in the Central District of Illinois. He retired from that position in May of 2016.  As a judge, Mr. Bernthal oversaw thousands of cases in areas such as commercial litigation, civil rights, employment disputes and intellectual property. 

A member of the Champaign County and Illinois State Bar Associations as well as the Federal Magistrate Judges Association. Mr. Bernthal is a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association and a past member of the editorial board of the FMJA Law Review.

Mr. Bernthal has spoken at numerous bar association sponsored events, and has been a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the University of Illinois College of Law which has recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus.

Mr. Bernthal has also been involved in many community activities, including both the Danville and Champaign Rotary Clubs where he served as Club President.


Matt Bills, Esq.
Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

Matt brings a creative, pragmatic, and efficient approach to help clients resolve complex legal problems. He has significant, substantive experience in a wide variety of business disputes. He regularly represents clients in matters involving breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, non-competes, post-closing disputes, and insurance coverage. Matt also has experience with false claims/qui tam litigation, trade secrets and unfair competition disputes, corporate internal investigations, enforcement of arbitration awards, and employment matters. 

In addition, Matt is consulted on all types of electronic discovery issues. Matt is a member of the Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program Committee. 

Matt was named one of the 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Based on nominations from clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, and judges, Matt was selected from a pool of more than 1,350 nominated Illinois attorneys.


Reid M. Bolton, Esq.
Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP

Reid M. Bolton is a partner with Bartlit Beck LLP, a boutique trial firm located in Chicago. 

Reid has extensive experience with all phases of high stakes litigation, including trials and arbitrations related to intellectual property, business disputes, contracts, taxation, and false claims.  Reid has been recognized as an Illinois Rising Star four years running.

Reid is also active in the community, serving as a supervisor for the Grace Place Kitchen and as a member of the One Million Degrees Associate Board.

John Killacky, Esq.
Leonard Meyer, LLP

John brings a unique perspective to Leonard Meyer, having served in senior positions as both in-house and outside counsel. This potent combination has instilled in John a broad appreciation for how to best partner with clients to achieve their objectives.

Before joining Leonard Meyer, John spent over eight years as General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel of a publicly traded property and casualty insurance holding company. While in-house, John oversaw a number of high-stakes litigation matters and guided the company through several large M&A and financing transactions. John also served as the company’s Privacy and Chief Compliance Officer, charged with ensuring compliance with SEC and NASDAQ regulations, state insurance laws, Graham-Leach-Bliley and other requirements. John has substantial experience providing practical legal and business advice to clients on a variety of substantive issues.

Prior to working in-house, John was a litigation partner with a large international law firm where he gained first and second chair trial experience in commercial, securities, employment, products liability and other complex litigation matters. John has considerable experience conducting internal investigations and has also represented clients responding to subpoenas and investigations by government agencies.

In addition to his litigation practice, John provides regulatory and corporate transactional services, focusing on companies that have no internal legal function. Before pursuing a career in law, John attended the United States Naval Academy and served for five years as a surface warfare officer.

Michael I. Leonard, Esq.
Attorney at Law
LeonardMeyer LLP

Mike is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who has successfully tried to verdict a wide variety of cases in Federal and State courts across the country. He is a “go-to” trial lawyer who has represented individuals in single plaintiff actions; individuals and companies in class and collective actions; some of the nation’s and region’s largest corporations; and individuals in Federal and State criminal trials. 

Mike has been recognized as a top trial lawyer and commercial and criminal litigator by the following: The National Trial Lawyers; America’s Best Attorneys; Super Lawyers; Leading Lawyers Network; American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys; and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Mike’s extraordinarily diverse practice has seen him successfully take to verdict cases ranging from securities fraud, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, breach of contract, ERISA, personal injury, and Federal and State criminal matters, among others.

Mike has also arbitrated a wide variety of cases, including international arbitration. Many of his cases have been the subject of national and local media attention, stirring recognition in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS News, Law 360, and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Mike has a keen interest in the craft and science of trial practice, and he is a frequent lecturer on trial and litigation related subjects. He is an instructor in Northwestern School of Law’s prestigious trial practice program, where he has also coached some of its Mock Trial teams.

Laura McNally, Esq.
Loeb & Loeb LLP

Laura McNally practices complex commercial litigation at Loeb & Loeb LLP in Chicago.  She has successfully tried complex commercial cases in state and federal courts, as well as in arbitration. The subject matters of these cases have included issues of contract, fraud, insurance coverage, fiduciary obligations, and legal malpractice. She has also argued appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  She has also been retained by business associations to file amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ms. McNally recognizes that at times, the most important advocacy a lawyer can perform is in the context of settlement discussions. This work requires an additional set of skills beyond those called on in the courtroom, including the ability to identify opponents’ motivations and concerns and then present settlement options in the manner best framed to reach resolution in her clients’ favor.  Ms. McNally has successfully mediated cases ranging from two-party contractual disputes to mass torts involving hundreds of personal injury plaintiffs.  She speaks widely on mediation advocacy.

Ms. McNally has represented many clients on a pro bono basis in civil rights matters, including the first case to establish AIDS-related disability discrimination before the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights.

Laura is a graduate of Northwestern University (B.A.) and Tulane Law School.  She is Secretary of the ADR Section of the Federal Bar Association, and she serves on the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee and on its Task Force for Inclusion.  She is an associate editor of the Circuit Rider, the journal of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association.  Laura has been recently named as a hearing officer for the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).

Bradley C. Nahrstadt, Esq.
Lipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis Ltd.

Mr. Nahrstadt recently started his own firm,  Lipe Lyons Murphy Nahrstadt & Pontikis Ltd. Previously, he was a partner with Williams Montgomery & John, Ltd. where he focused his practice on the defense of high stakes products liability, premises liability, insurance coverage and bad faith and commercial claims.  Mr. Nahrstadt has litigated cases involving a wide variety of products, including fine grinding machines, silicone breast implants, dietary supplements, automobile axles, hydraulic automotive lifts, hydraulic jacks, brakes, clutches, child safety seats, chemical floor wax strippers, signal components, genetically engineered corn, rewinders, pharmaceuticals, thermal oxidizers, gravimetric feeders, welding rods and contact lens solution.  Mr. Nahrstadt has served as regional counsel for a national testing laboratory and currently serves as regional counsel for a large consumer of welding rods, a leading optical manufacturer and a major brake and clutch manufacturer.

Mr. Nahrstadt’s recognitions and listings include AV Peer Review Rating by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell;  selected as one of the “40 Illinois Attorneys under Forty to Watch” by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 2006;  listed in Illinois Super Lawyers, 2007, 2010 (Products Liability Defense);  selected by peers as Illinois Leading Lawyer for Products Liability Defense and Medical Malpractice Defense.

Mr. Nahrstadt’s faculty positions include the following:  Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy, DePaul University College of Law (Winter 1998, Spring 1999, Summer 1999);  Instructor, Institute for Paralegal Education (June 2002, July 2002, November 2003, August 2008);  Instructor, National Business Institute (November 2004, June 2008);  Instructor, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (January 2005, November 2006);  Adjunct Professor, College of Lake County, Paralegal Training Program (January 2007 – 2009).

Mr. Nahrstadt is a graduate of Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois, B.A., summa cum laude, 1989.  He received his J.D., cum laude, in 1992 from the University of Illinois College of Law.

Megan E. Thibert-Ind, Esq.
McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP

Megan Thibert-Ind is a Partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Chicago office.  Megan has represented clients in a wide variety of complex civil litigation, including anti-trust matters, tax controversy, real estate disputes, tort litigation, and class action defense.  Megan is currently representing clients in litigation pending in federal and state courts throughout the country, in addition to administrative agencies, and before the American Arbitration Association.

Representative Experience

Antitrust Litigation:  Obtaining a complete dismissal with prejudice on behalf of an international toy maker involved in litigation related to alleged price discrimination, unfair business practices, and Sherman Act claims. 

Tax Controversy:  Representing a major online travel company in numerous large and complex lawsuits throughout the country.  Megan’s work includes obtaining dismissal or summary judgment in numerous actions pending against her client for claims relating to whether the company owed certain hotel occupancy taxes based on its online reservation model.    

Real Estate Disputes:  Obtaining judgment in favor of a national residential construction company.  The Court found, and the appellate court later affirmed, that the Plaintiff failed to prove the terms of a proposed purchase and sale, and therefore was not entitled to its claim for specific performance. 

Tort Litigation:  Successfully obtaining settlement on behalf of an individual plaintiff on claims for fraud, fraudulent concealment, and civil conspiracy linked to the unauthorized investment of her client’s money.

Class Action Defense:  Defeating certification of a putative nationwide class and obtaining summary judgment, which was later affirmed by the appellate court, in a case brought by consumers asserting consumer fraud and other causes of action related to an online merchant’s display of service fees.

Megan dedicates a significant portion of her time to pro bono practice.  Her pro bono work focuses on a range of experience, including obtaining a favorable settlement for the victim of a hate crime, representing clients in employment discrimination and unlawful discharge matters, and obtaining a successful judgment on behalf of an elderly man defrauded by his adult son.  She dedicates a considerable amount of her practice to firm citizenship.  She is a member of the Firm’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee.  Megan is a former recipient of the Firm’s Pro Bono and Community Service Award. Megan is a member of the Firm’s Associate Development Committee and the Gender Diversity Subcommittee.  Megan is also a member of the young professionals board for Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

While in law school, Megan served as an articles editor on the Wisconsin Law Review and was a member of the University of Wisconsin Moot Court Board. She also worked on appeals for criminal defendants in the Remington Center Criminal Appeals Project. Megan held a judicial internship for the Honorable Barbara B. Crabb, Former Chief U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Megan is admitted to practice in Illinois and before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  She is a member of the Illinois and Chicago Bar Associations.


Audio Course Material Package Download: $425

Audio Course Material Package CD: $425, plus $7.50 shipping and, in CA, sales tax.

CLE Credit

IL General: This program is approved for 7.5 units of general CLE  in Illinois through May 16, 2019.

  • IL Professional Responsibility: 7.0 units through May 16, 2019.

CA General:  This program is approved for 7.5 units of general CLE in California.

This program is approved for CLE in the states listed above.  Upon request, Pincus Pro Ed will provide any information an attorney needs to support their application for CLE approval in other states other than what is listed above.


Terms and Policies

Recording policy: No audio or video recording of any program is permitted.

Seminar Cancellations: Should you be unable to attend for any reason, please inform us in writing no later than 14 days prior to the event and a credit voucher will be issued. If you prefer, a refund, less a $50 non-refundable deposit, will be issued. No refunds or credits will be given for cancellations received within 14 days of an event. However, if you notify us within 14 days of an event, and wish to convert your in-person attendance registration to an Audio CD package (with handout), we can do so. A small additional shipping charge, and sales tax in CA, will be incurred. No shipping charge is incurred for downloads. We will also issue a voucher for the amount paid if you notify us within 14 days and prefer not to have the audio recording.

Substitutions may be made at any time.

Webinars, Tele-seminars and Webcast Cancellations: Once log-in codes and passwords are issued for a webinar, tele-seminars or webcasts, a refund is not possible. If for any reason you cannot attend the event after you have received the codes, we will automatically convert your registration to an instant streaming/instant download or CD format and provide you with the information you need to access the recording after the program concludes and the recording is available.  Conversions to CD require a $7.50 shipping fee, and in CA, 9% sales tax.

Downloads/CDs/DVDs – Refund policy:

Downloads are non-returnable/non-refundable once purchased and received. Tapes, CDs and DVDs are returnable for a full refund or replacement if defective, within 90 days of purchase.

Reminder: The room temperature at hotels and other seminar locations are notoriously hard to control. Please bring a sweater or jacket in case it gets cold and/or layer as if you are going to the movies so you are comfortable.

$425.00 each

For seven years, our Federal Court Boot Camp has taught thousands of attorneys about the ins-and-outs of Federal Court. The program is both a litigation primer and a primer for litigating in Federal Court. Recorded in 2017.