Summary Judgment Motions – Tips from the Trenches

Our speakers are always providing our attendees with helpful tips for their practice, and Karen Kimmey of Farella Braun + Martel is no exception!  When she speaks at our CLE programs, Karen provides great handouts. She provided one on Summary Judgment Motions not too long ago. Here are a few simple tips to improve your briefs:

MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 

Practice Tips

  • Think strategically about whether to file for summary judgment regardless of odds of winning. What are you goals?D Do you want to educate your judge? Are you trying to preview your opponent’s evidence? Always remember to consider the cost and effort involved in a Motion for Summary Judgment – it can get very expensive for your client.
  • Spend more time on your Separate Statement of Facts
    • Too often this is an afterthought for counsel – but the judges and their law clerks read these thoroughly. It is the document most relied-upon by many judges and clerks, so be careful with it, and make it easy for the court to find your references and cites.
  • Include only those facts in your Separate Statement that are truly “material”
    • The Court may assume it is material if it is in your Separate Statement
    • Each fact should be discrete and independent
  • Focus on your introduction and headings
    • Explain in a couple sentences what relief you are seeking and why you are entitled to it
    • Use argumentative headings to guide the argument
  • Do not bother with a long recitation of summary judgment standards – they know what it is. Save the space and word count for your argument.
  • Simplify if you are seeking summary judgment and complicate if you are opposing it
  • Start the process early – it takes a lot of time to prepare the papers

 

Faith Pincus