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Hon. Margaret A. Brennan, (Ret.), senior mediator and arbitrator at ADR Systems, recently co-presented at a Chicago Bar Association Judicial Roundtable on bench trial presentment and effective advocacy in commercial cases on January 11, 2022.

“As a retired judge, I still believe I can offer attorneys – especially younger attorneys – advice on how to improve their litigation skills when appearing before judges on the Commercial Calendar,” said Judge Brennan. “Although I am currently a mediator & arbitrator, I spent many years as a Commercial Calendar jurist. This Roundtable gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge with the lawyers attending.”

Judge Brennan explained that many of the presenters’ recommendations came directly from the Uniform Standing Order for All Commercial Calendars. These include notes on writing trial briefs and motions, incorporating all required documents into submitted materials for bench and jury trials and following protocols for pretrial conferences.

And despite being required by the Uniform Standing Order, attorneys only submit trial briefs for a minority of cases, according to Judge Brennan. This is a multi-fold missed opportunity, she emphasized. With a well-written trial brief, an attorney can better organize their case before trial and advocate effectively before a judge through a second modality.

“Behaving civilly, speaking frankly, meeting deadlines, coming in good faith, seeking relief earlier rather than later: All these things are common-sense ways to litigate well, but they’re also transferable to alternative dispute resolution,” said Judge Brennan. “Any mediation and arbitration benefits from candid, respectful dialogue and timely, organized presentation of submissions.”

Judge Brennan presented alongside Hon. Thomas R. Mulroy, (Ret.) and Hon. Patrick J. Sherlock of the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division Commercial Calendar. The event was organized by the CBA’s Business Divorce & Complex Ownership Disputes, the Commercial Litigation and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committees.

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Hon. Margaret A. Brennan, (Ret.) served for 19 years in the Circuit Court of Cook County Chancery and Law Divisions and cultivated expansive knowledge of commercial cases such as employment matters involving discrimination and retaliatory discharge, construction and legal malpractice disputes. Colleagues commend Judge Brennan’s intelligence, persuasiveness, remarkable patience, careful case preparation and boundless energy, which contribute significantly to her success as a senior mediator and arbitrator.

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ADR Systems, It’s Settled.®

"Judge Hanlon was an amazing mediator! While I have known her for years, I have never appeared in front of her or mediated a case with her. During a 10-hour mediation with her, I marveled at how hard she worked to get this case settled, and, more importantly, how great she communicated with my clients. She was calm, measured, reassuring, and so incredibly knowledgeable on the facts and mediation tactics. Judge Hanlon will always be on the top of my list for future mediations."

Richard I. Levin, Esq.Levin, Riback & Adelman
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