Motions for Summary Judgment: A Few Simple Tips to Improve Immediately

Karen Kimmey, Esq., a Partner at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, frequently speaks at our annual Superior Court Boot Camps. She is a favorite of attendees and always gives terrific advice and instruction. We’ve taken just a few of her basic tips from one of her presentations on Motions for Summary Judgment, and listed them below for your quick reference.

Karen gets into much more detail at our programs, with a lot more advice, but we just wanted to list a few things for you to think about and do when writing your Motions for Summary Judgment.

  • Think strategically about whether to file for summary judgment regardless of odds of winning.
    • Educate the judge.
    • Preview your opponent’s evidence.
    • Consider the cost and effort required.
  • Spend more time on your Separate Statement.
    • Often an afterthought for counsel.
    • Document most relied-upon by many judges and clerks.
  • 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.
  • Simplify if you are seeking summary judgment; complicate if you are opposing.
  • Start the process early; it takes time to prepare the papers.

Karen is a favorite with our seminar attendees, and has spoken at almost every Superior Court Boot Camp held in San Francisco since 2011.

You can find some of our programs at which Karen has taught here:

9th Annual Superior Court Boot Camp
11th Annual Superior Court Boot Camp

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