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‘May it please the court’: scheduling conference edition

Scheduling conferences seem to go one of two ways. I recently had one in a domestic case that took nearly 2 hours. The parties seemed to be on opposite sides of the spectrum on almost every issue. It was evident that a pendente lite hearing would be needed for the big issues, but at the time of the conference, the magistrate encouraged the parties to reach an agreement on some issues in order to help move things along.

On the other hand, I’ve attended scheduling conferences that took no more than 10 minutes.

While the time spent in the actual scheduling conference may have differed, what actually took place was not much different. Here are five fast tips to ensure that at the time of the conference, you’re ready to go:

  1. Be aware that the time spent in a scheduling conference may vary.
  2. Speak with opposing counsel prior to the conference to ascertain whether any issues can be resolved. In domestic cases, try to streamline the issues to which the parties agree and disagree. “Your Honor, we’ve resolved x, y and z” is always pleasing to the Court.
  3. Be ready to give a “nutshell” version of the case, highlighting the major issues. This will assist the court in giving an accurate trial-time estimate.
  4. You may want to advise the court of any outstanding motions or immediate plans to file future motions.
  5. Finally (and arguably, most importantly) be sure that you and your client physically bring your calendars for the next few months. It slows down the process to call the office and ensure that your schedule is free.