Ready for Trial: Litigation for Paralegals, Legal Staff and New Attorneys

October 17, 2014 | 6.25 General CLE Credits pending; 6.25 WSPA/NFPA Continuing Education Credit, pending

From the first client call all way to trial (with a hopeful stop at mediation), this program will give you the tools & confidence to build a solid, trial ready case.


8:25 a.m.-4:45 p.m.

This program will take you from that first client call all way to trial (with a hopeful stop at mediation) and give you the tools and confidence to build a solid, trial ready case. Speakers will cover intake, investigation, preparation of the client and expert, discovery, damages, best business practices, trial technology, and organization of documents and medical records for trial or mediation.

Co-sponsored by the Washington State Paralegal Association - WSPA supports the paralegal profession in Washington, and provides educational opportunities for members, along with a variety of benefits including job banks and discounts.


Registration & Coffee

Welcome & Introduction to the Program - Peter O'Neil, Attorney at Law

Panel One: Getting Started: Intake, Investigation, and Medical Records

  • Good practices for opening a new file or case - Theda Yandell, Paralegal, Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S.
  • Investigating your case - Christine Beck, Investigator, C.D. Beck and Associates
  • Medical Records: How to Find, Organize and Use Them - Shelley Smith-Jones, Paralegal, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender

The Art of the Interview: How to Let Your Client and Witnesses Tell the Whole Story - Prof. Tomas Guillen, SU Communications Studies Department

The Power of Discovery  - Peter O'Neil, Attorney at Law


Panel Two: Taking Care of Business Through the Lens of Legal Staff

  • Case Management in a Multi-Lawyer Practice - Mary Jane Brogan, Paralegal, SU School of Law Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic
  • Case Management in a Solo Practice - Sue Beichly
  • Building and Organizing the Damages Case - Shelley Smith-Jones, Paralegal, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender


Great (Legal) Writing - Ken Masters, Masters Law Group PLLC

Panel Three: Documents & Depositions - Preparing Your Expert Witness

  • What Your Expert Will Want to See - Will Martin, Construction & Premises Safety Expert, Robson Forensic
  • Organizing the Information to Give Your Expert - Jessica Vick, Paralegal, Brodkowitz Law Firm


Mediation: What a Mediator Needs from You - Judge Cynthia Morgan, BIIA, J.D., SU 1996

The Modern Digitized Trial: Techniques & Technologies - Chris Tiedemann, Prolumina

Taking the Next Step: From Paralegal to Attorney

  • LLLT - Brenda Cothary, President, Washington State Paralegal Association
  • Law School - SU Office of Admissions and Current Law Students/Current or Former Paralegals
  • Rule 6 Program - Peter O'Neil



Program Chairperson

Peter O'Neil
Peter O'Neil focuses his work on complex product liability and negligence cases. He has represented catastrophically injured individuals and the families of people killed by cars and trucks with defective fuel systems, airbags, seat belts, roofs, rollover stability, doors, seats, tires, and more, in dozens of automotive product cases over a span of decades. He has worked on dozens of other product liability cases involving everything from badly designed bottle caps and heating pads to defectively designed windows, tractors and dangerous drugs. His work on negligence cases runs the gamut from simple auto crash cases to highway construction. He studied law the old fashioned way, foregoing law school, and opting instead for the Washington State Bar Association's Rule 6 Law Clerk Program. He is of counsel to the firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender.


Mary Jane Brogan
Mary Jane Brogan is a paralegal in the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, Seattle University School of Law where she enjoys working in the profession of educating future lawyers. After completing the paralegal program in the University of Washington, she worked for various legal offices. She has worked in King County Records & Elections and in the City of Seattle Office for Civil Rights. She has a Masters in Organizational Systems.

Brenda Cothary

Brenda Cothary is the Office Manager at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Tacoma. She has 15 years' experience in bankruptcy and collections, working for a national equipment leasing company, private law offices and the State of Washington. Brenda has a B.A. in Political Science and minor in Criminal Justice from the University of Idaho. She worked in law enforcement for 7 years prior to obtaining her paralegal certificate from Highline Community College in 2001. Brenda has been a WSPA member for 11 years. She attended the NFPA Leadership Conference in 2003 and the NFPA National Convention in 2005 and 2006. She is currently serving her third term as WSPA's President, and has previously served as the Vice President of Membership, NFPA Primary Representative, South Puget Sound Chapter Director and co-chair of WSPA's Regulation (Positions and Issues) Committee. She is a past member of the Tacoma Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Washington State Bar Association's Limited License Legal Technician Board.

Professor Tomás Guillén
Seattle University Professor Tomás Guillén teaches investigative information gathering for advocacy and the Art of Interviewing. Before joining S.U., he worked as a journalist at The Seattle Times. In 1988 he and a colleague were Pulitzer Prize finalists for their articles on the Green River killer and in 1995 his stories on crime laboratories won the Silver Gavel in the American Bar Association investigative reporting competition.

In 1990 Guillén co-authored The Search for the Green River Killer, which became a New York Times bestseller. In 1995 he authored the book Toxic Love and in 2006 he authored Serial Killers: Issues Explored Through the Green River Murders .

In 2008 Guillén was selected to be a Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholar in Cali, Columbia. And in 2011 he was selected to be a Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholar in the United Kingdom, where he taught at Staffordshire University.

Shelley Smith Jones
Shelley Smith Jones began her career as a paralegal in 1989 in Twin Falls, Idaho. She was hired by one of Idaho's premier trial lawyers to prepare over 100 Petitions for Compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Upon completion of that project, she was asked to take over the firm's sizable caseload of silicone breast implant claims. Shelley was also introduced to medical malpractice, product liability, and insurance bad faith cases during her twelve years in Idaho.

In 2001, Shelley was hired by Schroeter Goldmark & Bender as a medical malpractice paralegal. Given her extensive knowledge of and long history with breast implant claims, SGB turned over its 300 cases to her for completion of the process. She also worked on fen-phen, Vioxx, Yaz, and, currently, hip implant and transvaginal mesh cases. Shelley also manages complex individual medical malpractice and product liability cases for SGB.

Ken Masters

For over 20 years, Ken Masters has assisted many great trial lawyers, handling hundreds of civil appeals at Masters Law Group (formerly Wiggins & Masters). Ken was elected to the WSBA Board of Governors in September 2012, currently serves a Governor for the 1st District, and is the Treasurer-Elect. Ken previously chaired the WSBA's Court Rules and Procedures Committee and Amicus Curiae Brief Committee, as well as numerous Committees for the King County Bar Association. He has chaired or presented at dozens of CLEs on appellate advocacy, legal writing, and other subjects. He is a past president of the Washington Appellate Lawyers Association, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Litigation Counsel of America, and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

Will Martin
Will Martin is a registered architect in multiple states and is a licensed general contractor in the State of Washington. His background includes thirty years of building design and construction, with projects ranging from small single family renovations to large mixed-use buildings, schools, casino additions, and military installations. He has been responsible for jobsite safety procedures and company-wide safety programs.

Will can explain the practical applications of established codes and standards in cases involving unguarded edges and openings; building component and maintenance failures including stairs, balconies, walking surfaces, doorways, and egress; worker training; and jobsite and industrial housekeeping. As a registered architect and licensed contractor, he understands and can communicate the proper construction and maintenance of schools, industrial and institutional facilities, single and multi-family housing, retail and restaurants, and site improvements. His background includes CPM schedules, estimates, specifications, and a wide variety of building materials and techniques in all phase of the construction process, starting with initial design and continuing through demolition, sitework, structural elements, envelope detailing, and interior finishes.

Will conducts casework for both plaintiff and defense counsel throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is a certified user of the English XL slip tester. His educational background includes a BA from Yale University and M.Arch and MBA degrees from the University of Washington.

Judge Cynthia M. Morgan
Cynthia M. Morgan joined the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals as a hearings judge in 2012. She currently works as a Review Judge in the BIIA's Seattle Office. Prior to 2012, Cindy worked for the Office of Administrative Hearings in Seattle as an Administrative Judge hearing employment security appeals. She also serves as an arbitrator and mediator through the various county court civil programs and Washington Arbitration and Mediation Service.

Cindy is a graduate of the Seattle University School of Law and has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington. Cindy has been a frequent presenter at CLE's sponsored by various groups, including the Washington State Bar Association, and the Washington State Association for Justice.Jessica Vick is a paralegal at Brodkowitz Law where she works as part of a team representing plane crash victims, commercial airline passengers, pilots, flight attendants, helicopter crash victims and their families following injury or loss. Brodkowitz Law's aviation practice has been nationally recognized.

Jessica Vick

Jessica became a paralegal in 2000 upon completion of the American Bar Association (ABA) Certified Paralegal Certificate Program from Highline Community College. Prior to completing the paralegal program she worked at the firm of Lane Powell in Seattle. Upon receiving her Paralegal Certificate in June 2000 she began work as a paralegal at a local insurance defense firm. In 2002 Jessica began advocating for injured people when she had an opportunity to join a plaintiffs' personal injury firm as a paralegal. In doing so Jessica found a practice area that she could be passionate about. She has been with Brodkowitz Law since September 2008. Jessica is a member of the Washington State Association for Justice.

Chris Tiedmann

Chris Tiedemann is one of the Northwest's leading experts on technology in litigation and has designed and taught Continuing Legal Education seminars for local and state bar associations as well as for many law firms, professional associations, and industry conferences nationwide. In addition, he has authored numerous articles on the effectiveness of technology in the courtroom.  Mr. Tiedemann has more than 25 years of experience in electronic trial consulting and has been involved in matters as far back as in re: Exxon Valdez, to the more recent Toyota "unintended acceleration" cases as well as the Deepwater Horizon litigation to name just a few. He is the principal of Prolumina, a jury consulting and trial services company located in Seattle, WA.

Theda Yandell
Theda is employed as a paralegal in the law firm of Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S., a litigation defense firm. She currently participates in personal injury, premise liability, property damage, and product liability cases. She has been a paralegal for 26 years. During her paralegal career, she has assisted in the areas of legal malpractice, medical malpractice, employment litigation and construction defect. While she has been involved primarily in defense work, she has also participated in plaintiff cases. She has assisted in many trials during her career and has been a speaker on trial preparation for WSPA and IPE. Theda is a member of and past director for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). She is also a member and past president of the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA). Theda became a PACE Registered Paralegal (RP) in December 2006. She graduated from Highline Community College with an A.A. degree and an A.A.S. degree, Legal Assistant. She is a member of the Highline Community College Advisory Board and volunteers at the Kent Legal Clinic.


General Registration - Attorneys - $225.00

Seattle University School of Law Alumni - Attorneys - $195.00

General Registration - Paralegals - $150

WSPA Members - Paralegal Registration - $125.00

Live Webcast - $225.00