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Posted by: Avery Roberts on May 20, 2020

The roundtable discussions are an opportunity for ITLA Members to gather in an informal setting to examine issues as they relate to their specific areas of practice. Moderated by two experienced practitioners, you’ll be able to discuss industry trends, exchange ideas, and offer insights that improve your everyday practice.

If there is a specific issue, idea, or question you’d like to be covered let us know here. 

The conversations will take place on the Zoom Meeting platform with the option to join via video or audio/phone. Please see our current schedule below. Registration is FREE but required. 


  • Tuesday, June 9th at 11 a.m. MDT/10 a.m. PDT
  • Moderated by April Linscott and Gabe Haws


  • Tuesday, June 9th at 2 p.m. MDT/1 p.m. PDT
  • Moderated by John Edwards and Walter Bithell 


  • Tuesday, June 16th at 2 p.m. MDT/1 p.m. PDT
  • Moderated by Matt Romrell and Michael Kessinger


  • Wednesday, June 17th at 4 p.m. MDT/3 p.m. PDT
  • Moderated by Shondi Lott and Terry Ratliff

Posted by: Jarom Whitehead on May 5, 2020

Dear ITLA Members:
After much deliberation and discussion, the ITLA Executive Committee has determined that we will not be holding our Annual Meeting, Seminar, and Convention in Sun Valley on June 18th - 20th, 2020. The decision was not an easy one but is necessary under the extraordinary circumstances we all face. We have consulted with Sun Valley and based upon their current limitations and issues with Covid-19, all have agreed to the cancellation.
The past two months have seen unprecedented upheaval and changes to the world. This has presented enormous challenges to everyone and our community has not escaped the impact. Our hearts go out to those in need at this time. We especially address those of you in our ITLA family whose loved ones and practices have been effected. ITLA’s core mission has always been to help those in need and support trial lawyers in their efforts to represent their clients. During this time we are endeavoring to continue with our mission by offering relevant and timely support and education in a Covid-19 world. We encourage our members to remain actively engaged in helping those around them. We believe that it is vitally important that we all keep the lines of communication open within our community.
As the Executive Committee, we are working to plan a virtual annual meeting so that we can continue to conduct the business of the organization and keep moving forward. Information on that and other opportunities to participate are forthcoming in the next few weeks. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
In the meantime, be strong, be safe and be well. 
The Idaho Trial Lawyers Executive Committee,
Jarom Whitehead, President
Taylor Mossman-Fletcher, President-Elect
Guy Hallam, Treasurer
Russ Johnson, Secretary       

Posted by: Wendy Votroubek on Apr 15, 2020

To assist attorneys during this time of social distancing, Integrity Legal Nurse Consulting has started a free speaker’s series.  Our expert nurses will be speaking to medical topics as related to your personal injury, medical negligence and/or criminal defense cases. The conference series consist of approximately 30 minutes of presentation followed by an open question and answer session. 

These mini conferences are available in both video and audio so you can watch and participate from the comfort of your home or office.
*April 16th, 9 am PST -“What We Find That Might Make Or Break Your PI Case”
Time: 1 hour
*April 23, 9 am PST – TBI and Post  Concussive Syndrome
Time: 1 hour
*April 30th, 9 am PST -  Medical Problems Frequently Mistaken for Under the Influence (Stroke, Diabetes and Psych)
May 7th, 9 am PST – Abdominal Surgeries; Factors That Can Contribute to Bad Outcome
May 14th, 9 am PST- Birth Trauma, What You Need to Know

Past talks soon to be on the website
*April 2nd, 9 am PST – Medical Negligence Cases- Role of Nursing Documentation, Detection of Record Tampering , When to Ask For Help and More”
Soon to be on our website (
*April 9th 9 am PST- Sexual Assault and Strangulation 
Time: 1 hour 
Soon to be on our website (

Posted by: Avery Roberts on Apr 10, 2020


 Recognize a deserving colleague! 

Nominations are open for the 2020 Walter H. Bithell Professionalism Award and the 2020 James J. May Trial Lawyer of the Year.

The Walter H. Bithell Professionalism Award recognizes outstanding professionalism in the practice of law for integrity, fairness, passion for the law and the exemplary courtesy steadfastly extended to all - clients, colleagues, judges and staff.
Nomination Form
The James J. May Trial Lawyer of the Year award recognizes excellence in trial advocacy, commitment to defending justice inside and outside of the legal community, and generosity and dedication to the mission of ITLA. 
Nomination Form
The confidential nominations for both awards must be received by 5 p.m. MT on Friday, April 17th. The nominations will be reviewed by independent committees and the awards will be presented at the 2020 ITLA Annual Meeting, Conference, and Seminar

Please give us a call at (208) 345-1890 or send an email to if you have any questions or concerns.

Posted by: Jarom Whitehead on Apr 9, 2020


A universal truth is that people like a good story. A good story resonates. A good story transcends usual boundaries of society and can act to bind us together and find common cause with complete strangers. What we [hope to] do as trial lawyers is tell our client’s story in a compelling and effective way that gets others to understand and empathize with their cause.

I am not a great storyteller. I have to really work at it. I have eagerly watched, listened and read anything I can get my hands on to help me get better. One of my favorite podcasts is The Memory Palace hosted by Nate Dimeo. Nate is an excellent storyteller. If you’ve never heard of him, use your Coronavirus lock-down time to give his podcast a listen. He takes historical accounts of events and tells the story in a completely immersive and engaging way. Many of his podcasts are 10 to 20 minutes long. He can convey a lot of important factual information in a short amount of time. They are perfect for today’s audience and their notoriously short attention spans.

Listening to Nate has reinforced that effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to truly move an audience. And while everyone can tell a story, there is a big difference between good storytelling and great storytelling.

I recently stumbled across Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling — here are the top six we should learn from.

1.    Great stories are universal 

Great storytelling is about taking a piece of the human condition (things like growth, emotionality, aspiration, tragedy and conflict) and conveying them in an interesting way.
Acclaimed Pixar director Pete Docter puts it perfectly:
“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”
As trial lawyers we are often telling the same story over and over. Our challenge is to make it resonate each time. What we face are negative bias and expectations from our audience [jurors] that we need to avoid. “I’ve heard this one before” could be a common refrain in the jury room.
Find the uniqueness in your client’s story and break down the elements that make them unique and worthy of your advocacy. I’ve heard experienced trial lawyers tell me - go to your client’s home. Find out about the person. The reason this helps is it necessarily evokes those real feelings you have to recognize in order to tell your client’s story yourself.
You and your client are part of the human condition and people will relate to that.

2.    Great stories have a clear structure and purpose

        Part A (Structure)

One way to develop a compelling story is to use “The Story Spine” formula created by professional playwright and improviser Kenn Adams.

It goes:

The Story Spine — Emma Coats
It seems basic, because it is. The problem is most people do not intuitively organize their thoughts this way. The next time you listen to a potential client tell their story to you, keep this in mind. Give the Story Spine a shot to help develop a truly unique story to tell.
        Part B (Purpose)
Your purpose in telling a story as a trial lawyer might be obvious, it might not. Asking yourself the following questions will help you identify the key to your particular story.
Why must you tell THIS story?
What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of?
What greater purpose does this serve? What does it teach?
Answer this to understand the heart of really great storytelling. We often call these themes and try and focus our case presentation around it but it is really more than that. When you focus on the purpose, you inherently begin to focus on the story that will generate the same passion in the listener as it does in you. If you can’t find that passion yourself, find a different case to work on. I think that gets lost a lot of the time.

3.    Great stories have a character to root for

Believe it or not, people want to root for your client (the main character).
AND they love a good underdog.
Find what makes your client’s cause a worthy one and focus on that. In a typical injury case we often worry about things like the amount of medical bills as the determiner of how “good” our client’s case is. While that might be a practical consideration, it doesn’t really tell our client’s story. Learn how to frame the client and their goals in the litigation in a way that resonates with other people. What journey is our client on and why should others care?
Good story tellers understand that the audience admires and identifies with a character for trying more than for their success. In other words, it’s more about the character’s journey than it is their actual destination.
When you and your client are battling against all odds, facing adversity, and their back is against the wall - you have yourself the makings of great story.
Give the people an unexpected hero to root for.

4.    Great stories appeal to our deepest emotions

It has been said that the law should be completely devoid of emotion. It isn’t true. In fact, it is impossible. Understanding the emotional impact of our client’s story is understanding how to tell that story effectively. 
The more you understand how and when your own emotional levers are pulled, the more you’ll appreciate how that works in other people (and the more you’ll be able to convey those emotions in your stories).
Work on being able to recognize the emotions the story evokes in you and think about the “why.”
Continuously question yourself in order to understand your own emotional reactions to your client’s story so that you can learn to convey the authentic story to the audience that counts.

5.    Great stories are surprising and unexpected

The stories we are often asked to tell seem mundane and “typical.” The great challenge for trial lawyers is to avoid confirming some negative bias or prejudice against plaintiffs in general when we present our case. WE can do this by finding the unexpected in our client’s stories.  Our particular audience needs to know that our client’s case is different than what they might have expected.  Stories are engaging when our perceptions of reality are challenged or changed in some way. That’s one of the great things Nate Dimeo does with The Memory Palace. See what you can do in your next case meeting to flesh out the unexpected or surprising elements of the case that make it stand out and worthy of engagement. Stories are compelling when our perceptions of reality are challenged or changed in some way.

6.    Great stories are simple and focused

We as audiences know a good story when we see or hear one.
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book where you had to keep asking yourself (or someone else) what was happening in the plot?
Not a great experience.
As lawyers, we naturally want to include as much information as possible in our stories to try and persuade and convince. We want to pack the story full of characters and facts. More often than not, we’re simply adding layers that don’t need to be there.
The good storyteller’s advice here is to “combine characters and hop over detours.”
While you as the lawyer may feel like you’re losing lots of valuable “facts”, it’ll set you free in the end and will allow your audience to get lost in the narrative. This is where focus groups are invaluable. It helps us focus on what people really want to know. But, don’t be suckered into bloating your case. The best stories are simple. For this I refer you to listen to the episode of The Memory Palace called “Secret Kitty.” To this day one of the best short (true) stories I have ever heard.  Give it a listen and see if you don’t agree. Find it at:
I’m still a mediocre storyteller. But I’m getting better. Now when I plan my closing arguments, I ask myself: “How would Nate tell this story?” I think it helps.

Posted by: Avery Roberts on Apr 8, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the practice of law, ITLA Members are having to adapt to serve their clients and adjust to a vastly changing economic future.
As we navigate these unchartered waters, it is important to discuss and share what we are learning. We hope that you’ll join your colleagues for open, honest discussions about how ITLA Members are responding to this crisis during our web series ITLA Talks: Critical Conversations in a Time of Crisis.
The conversations will take place on the Zoom platform. Links to register for each session will be found on the individual event pages. Participants will have the option to join via video or audio/phone.
Please see our current schedule below. We’ll provide an updated list of upcoming topics and speakers as they are finalized.
Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Considerations for Policyholders Affected by COVID-19
  • Led by Haley Krug
  • Wednesday, April 22nd from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. MT 
How to Effectively use Video Conferencing in Depositions and Mediations
  • Led by Andrea Wecker
  • Thursday, April 23rd from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. MT 
Managing an Office Remotely – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Discussion led by James Ruchti and Erika Birch
  • Thursday, April 30th from 12:00 - 12:45 p.m. MT 
Women's Caucus Happy Hour
  • Thursday, April 30th from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. MT 

Posted by: Barbara Jorden on Mar 27, 2020

Now is the time to nominate ITLA's next leaders. 

The ITLA Bylaws require ITLA to accept nominations for leadership positions in advance of the Annual Meeting. You may nominate any qualified member, including yourself, to serve on the board as an elected officer or as an AAJ representative. Most of the current elected officers are eligible for re-nomination.

  • President-Elect
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary (open position)
  • AAJ Governor (open position) – Must be a member of AAJ
  • AAJ Delegate (open position) – Must be a member of AAJ

Service on the Board of Directors of ITLA in an elected position is a rare chance to help drive the decisions of the Association and shape the civil justice landscape in Idaho. Board service is a chance to grow personally and professionally, to develop skills, gain unique experience, and make lasting connections with a team of passionate and motivated trial lawyers.  

Please, take an active role in the future of ITLA by nominating a colleague or yourself for the position of Secretary, AAJ Governor, or AAJ Delegate. The Call for Nominations closes on April 17th at 5 p.m. MDT and the election will take place at the Annual Conference in June. 

Please give us a call at (208) 345-1890 or send an email to if you have any questions or concerns.

Posted by: John Kormanik on Mar 25, 2020

John R. Kormanik, Lead Guide
Kormanik Coaching Services –
Kormanik & Sneed LLP – Partner –
As I write this post (Thursday, March 19, 2020), we have begun to feel the effects of the measures being taken to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week I have worked almost exclusively from home and wanted to share some thoughts on how to make doing so productive. Of course, I don’t have all the answers, but what I suggest below, has worked for me. Try it on for size if you’re in the #AloneTogether boat; we may be here for a while (hopefully not as long as Tom Hanks in Castaway long, but….).
Read to the end to find out why I purposefully used the word “curveball”!

1. Make a Schedule 
If you’re unfamiliar with working from home, it can feel like you are untethered. When we walk out of our homes and go to our offices, the change in geography and scenery tells our brains it is time to work. At home, simply changing rooms or sitting down at the computer at the breakfast bar (yes, the latter is me) and telling ourselves it is time to work, well, just doesn’t work!
Since I’ve begun my work from home routine, I have created a schedule, so I get my most thought-intensive work done at my most productive time of day … before noon. And this time is not just my most productive time; according to an article in Forbes, the most productive time of day is 11 a.m. and the most productive period of the day is between 7 a.m. and noon. The article confirms the reality of the “post-lunch” afternoon dip in productivity as well.
Before I begin my workday, I consider the most intensive things I need to do and schedule them before lunch. Yes, I write them down in my calendar. Oh, and I also put my phone and computer on “do not disturb” so when I put my head down, I’m working.
2. Take a Walk 
Because we’re working from home, it can be easy to forget we need a break after approximately 90-minutes of legitimate head-down work – aka what Darren Hardy refers to as a “jam session.” In the office, we’re (unfortunately) subjected to interruptions and, oftentimes, naturally, take a break to stretch. Not so at home where it can be easy just to continue to sit and work (or surf Facebook).
GET UP. Get outside and “clear the calculator” between tasks. When we put something aside and want to begin a different thing, research shows it takes 23 minutes to refocus. Your brain is on a virtual walk for those 23 minutes, you may as well move your body as well!

3. Leverage Technology
During this time of social isolation and in the interests of public health and wellness, I’ve canceled all of my in-person meetings. But that does not mean I cannot meet with potential and existing clients “face-to-face.” Instead, I have leveraged technology by using Zoom virtual meetings as well as UberConference. Both have free versions and may also have special features during this crisis. Using these tools, you can not only “meet” potential and existing clients, you can also interact with members of your team.
Because it’s 2020, most of us have either the ability to log into our document server at our office via a VPN, or our client files are in the cloud. If you didn’t have the ability to view your case files remotely, I’m certain your firm’s IT department is putting mechanisms into place to enable you to.
Tools like Trello, Microsoft OneNote (shared note repository), and Airtable (cloud-based spreadsheet/database) can also be used by team members to share work on various projects. I use all of these tools and find they are helpful. Multiple users have can access and make entries in these platforms so you can be certain your projects remain on track.
At the end of the day, we’ll all get through this. We need to continue to be productive for the sake of the people we serve – our clients! Hopefully, some of the information here will not only help you to be more productive…but to maintain your sanity as well!
In closing, I also wanted to take the opportunity to let you know: I have begun a new adventure and am now helping guide solo and small firm attorneys in creating vision-based businesses and lives. If you’re curious about it, contact me and I’m happy to see how I can serve you. You can also check my website
Oh, and the reason I used “curveball” in the title of this post is, of course, because of the postponement of the MLB season. Almost every year since we moved to Idaho in 1998, me, my partner Michelle, our daughter Allie, and our dog (first it was Sherwood, then came Maggie, now we have Olive) road-tripped to San Diego for the Padres home opener. We had tickets this year for March 26. That, of course, isn’t happening, but hope springs eternal!

Posted by: Anthony Shallat on Mar 19, 2020


Last week our law firm, Fisher Hudson Shallat, began to seriously consider how COVID-19 would impact our business, clients, and our employees. As more and more news broke about the way the virus spreads, and the extreme measures taken by governments around the world, our partners knew we had a very serious decision to make. On Monday, our law firm chose to physical close our office. Although we considered simply allowing employees the option to work remotely, we chose to take our response a step further and require them to work remotely. We also chose to halt all in-person meetings. These decisions have been disruptive, but we felt confident that they were the most responsible approach given the many unknowns our community is facing regarding COVID-19.

With that in mind, here are five important reasons why physically closing your law firm is the appropriate response when addressing COVID-19. 

1. Employee Health comes first.
A law firm’s treatment of their employees speaks volumes to their core values. Legal industry employees all over the country are paying extra close attention to how the management treats them. With the COVID-19 news unescapable, employees are hypersensitive to their response. Its critical law firms show their employees that their health and safety come before anything else. I suggest having an open discussion about their concerns rather than simply telling them how it’s going to be. Employee anxiety and fear are real and ignoring it will foster bad will.

2. Client health comes a close second.
When you welcome your clients into your office, they presume they are in a safe environment. However, when you interact with your clients face-to-face, you cannot guarantee you are not putting them at risk for exposure to COVID-19. Many of us have elderly clients who are at risk of death if they contract COVD-19. Given the nature of this virus, you may already be infected but not know it. Thus, you could transmit COVID-19 to your clients without knowing it. Moreover, having your clients come into your office requires them to leave their homes, further exposing them.

3. Community health comes third.
Having an open office means you are inviting the community into your space. This includes deliveries, cleaners, etc. It’s impossible to responsibly practice social distancing with an open office. The people who interact with you, your staff, and your clients, could either be carrying the virus or could contract if from your office.

4. It’s impossible to know the extent of a COVID-19 outbreak in your community.
Given the transmutability of COVID-19 and the lack of testing available, its unfortunately impossible to know how prevalent it is at this stage. Medical professionals now agree that asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus has fueled outbreaks. For example, it appears that a Massachusetts coronavirus cluster with at least 82 cases was started by people who were not yet showing symptoms, and more than half a dozen studies have shown that people without symptoms are causing substantial amounts of infection. Due to these factors, closing your office is the only 100% safe decision.

5. An outbreak at your office is a business killer.
Lastly, businesses should close their physical office given the risk law firms run by remaining open. Imagine the reaction your law firm would receive if a client contracted COVID-19, and suspects it came from you or your staff. At the very least, this rumor would hurt your law firm’s reputation.

Physically closing your office, however, could be very disruptive if not done properly. To help make this transition smoother, here are some additional pointers:

  • Get everyone set up remotely. Many attorneys already have the capacity to work remotely, and often work from home. Law firms, though, tend to believe the staff must be present in the office. This perception is based upon the antiquated idea that someone must be physically there to greet clients and answer phones. That reality is obsolete, and its time for us to evolve. Staff can answer general calls from their cell phones. Most office phone technology can forward calls from the general lines to other numbers. Ask your staff’s consent to have calls coming into the firm forwarded to their cell phones. If they are not comfortable with that, buy them a burner the time being. As for drafting and filing documents, allow staff to take office equipment home with them. Many firms operate off of the cloud or VPNs which will allow staff to access documents from home. If not, go old school and send staff documents to edit via email. Now is the time to get creative and find workarounds to ensure we can all work remotely.
  • Notify clients and the community. After you are set up to work remotely, it’s time to let everyone know your office is now closed. There are a few ways to do this. We chose to create a separate landing page on our website and include that link in our email signature.  We also notified the community via social media. Other firms have chosen to send out an email to clients. Whatever method you chose, it’s important to let clients and the community know why you made this decision. Without telling them why they may think a COVD-19 exposure has occurred at your workplace. Instead, explain that you care about the health of your employees, your clients, and the community. The vast majority of people will understand why you made this decision because it’s happening all across the world right now.
  • Leverage technology and stay in touch with employees. Firms should begin using video conferencing as a tool to communicate with clients and co-workers. There are many different options available including Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. Our firm uses Microsoft Teams. Let clients know this is an option when they request to talk with you. Additionally, schedule a time every day or every other day for your team to check-in via video chat.
Now is our moment to be leaders in the white-collar workforce. Instead of being the last industry to implement remote options for employees and clients, let’s lead the charge and set a responsible example.

Best wishes, 

Tony Shallat 
Fisher Hudson Shallat

Posted by: Avery Roberts on Mar 16, 2020

For the safety of our members and the public, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association has rescheduled or canceled in-person association events for the near future.

ITLA Street Law Clinic
The March 23 Clinic has been canceled.

Spring Member Social
The Spring Member Social hosted by Associated Reporting & Video, originally scheduled for April 3, has been tentatively postponed until Thursday, April 30. 

SoundBoard Series
The April installment of the Soundboard Series has been postponed until a later date. 

Annual Meeting, Conference, and Seminar 
As of now, the 2020 Annual Meeting, Conference, and Seminar is still scheduled to place June 19-20 at the Sun Valley Resort. We are working with the Resort to ensure safety precautions are in place. We share your concerns and are actively monitoring the situation regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19 and will keep you informed of any changes.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this time. ITLA Staff will be working at the office and remotely and will be monitoring the reports as they become available.

We remain committed to providing you with the necessary support and resources to support your practice. If you have any questions, feel free to send an email to or give us a call at (208) 345-1890.


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