MTLA Annual Convention
July 19-20, 2018
University of Montana
U Center
Missoula, Montana


11.0 CLE Credits – including 1 ethics credit

Thank You Convention Sponsors



⇒ Register NOW

PDF Registration Form (mail in with check)

Social Hour Sponsors 
Bechtold Law Firm
Odegaard Braukmann Law

Awards Dinner Sponsors
Hunt Law Firm

McKenna & Starin

Speaker bios

Topics & Speakers - Schedule



Thursday – July 19, 2018
7:30   Registration & Breakfast hosted by UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law
8:15   Welcome & Introduction
    Anthony Jackson, Bozeman
8:30   Montana Case Law Update: July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018
    Hon. Justice Beth Baker, Montana Supreme Court, Helena
9:30   BREAK
9:45   The Yankee From Olympus: A Living History Performance
    Bill Barton, Newport, OR
10:45   Confronting Bias in Medical Malpractice Cases (ethics credit)
    Christina Sonsire, Elmira, NY
11:45   LUNCH
    UC Ballroom
1:00   A Different Measure of Damages: Quantitative v. Qualitative
    Bill Barton, Newport, OR
2:00   Cross-Ups in Cross-Examination – The Psychology & Sociology of Persuasion
    John F. Romano, West Palm Beach, FL
3:00   BREAK
3:15   Cross-Ups in Cross-Examination – The Psychology & Sociology of Persuasion (continued)
    John F. Romano, West Palm Beach, FL
4:15   The Top Ten Things I've Learned as A Trial Lawyer, And Then Some: Engaging in Creative, Holistic Lawyering
    Victoria L. Vreeland, Bellevue, WA
5:15   Program Concludes for the Day
5:30   Social Hour & Awards Dinner
    Law School Courtyard
Friday – July 20, 2018
7:00   Registration & Continental Breakfast
7:45   Welcome & Introduction
    Matt Dodd, Bozeman
8:00   Montana Insurance Law Update: July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018
    Prof. Gregory S. Munro, Alexander Blewett III School of Law, Missoula
9:00   Shining A Light On Insurance Marketing Malpractice
    Frederick C. Berry Jr., Phoeniz, AZ
10:00   BREAK
10:15   How To Read And Understand An Insurance Contract
    Michael Cohen, Los Angeles, CA
11:15   Protecting Consumers in a New Age
    Prof. Craig Cowie, Alexander Blewett III School of Law, Missoula
12:15   Annual Membershp Luncheon
    UC Ballroom
1:15   Program Concludes


Faculty Bios


HON. JUSTICE BETH BAKER was raised in Spokane, Washington, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication. In 1985, she graduated with high honors from the University of Montana School of Law. Following graduation from law school, Justice Baker served four years as a law clerk for the Hon. Charles C. Lovell, U.S. District Judge for the District of Montana. From 1989 through 2000, she worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the Montana Department
of Justice, including four years as Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General and four years as Chief Deputy Attorney General. Justice Baker spent the next ten years in the private practice of law with the firm of Hughes, Kellner, Sullivan, and Alke. Justice Baker served ten years on the State Bar of Montana’s Access to Justice Committee and currently serves as ex officio director of the Montana Justice Foundation. Justice Baker also chairs the Montana Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. She was elected to the Montana Supreme Court on November 2, 2010 and was sworn into office January 3, 2011, to fill the 
position of retiring Justice W. William Leaphart.

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WILLIAM A. BARTON has tried over 500 jury trials to verdict as part of a national practice focusing on medical negligence, institutional sexual abuse and insurance bad faith since 1972. He has over 40 million-dollar-plus verdicts and settlements. He has been a guest instructor
for Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and has lectured on trial advocacy over 450 times in thirty-five states and five countries. Mr. Barton is the author of Recovering for Psychological Injuries.  He is a past president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers and Western Trial Lawyers, and received the Oregon Trial Lawyers “Distinguished Trial Lawyer Award.” In 2013, the Oregon State Bar Litigation Section recognized Bill with its Professionalism Award and in 2015 he was presented with the Oregon State Bar’s highest honor, the Award of Merit. Bill is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers,
the International Society of Barristers and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Bill is the “Camp Commandant” of Barton’s Advocacy Boot Camp, now in its eleventh year.

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FREDERICK C. “RICK” BERRY JR. has a Bachelor of Science degree in Insurance and a Juris Doctor degree from Arizona State University. Mr. Berry served as the Deputy Director of Insurance of the State of Arizona for two years and earned professional insurance designations of Chartered and Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) in 1981 and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in 1983. He served as a member of the State Bar of Arizona Insurance Committee for 25 years, including six years as Chairman, and has served as a member of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness. Mr. Berry has
testified as an expert witness in State and Federal Court concerning insurance matters on numerous occasions over the past 39 years and is a licensed insurance producer in Arizona for life, health, disability, property, and liability insurance. He is a member of the American
Association for Justice and the Arizona Association for Justice. He was a Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, State Bar of Arizona, May 14, 1997-June 30, 2011.

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MICHAEL L. COHEN is a trial attorney. He graduated in 1991 from Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Michael began his practice in Texas, representing plaintiffs and defendants in complex civil cases. In 1999 he moved to Los Angeles and began devoting his practice to representing plaintiffs. He has tried a nationwide class action for 48,000 class members, a 49-plaintiff mass action against an insurance company, and many cases for individuals and businesses. Most recently, Michael represented the plaintiff in a trademark infringement trial, and the jury awarded Michael’s client $4.7 million, which was the entirety of the defendants’ net profits from their sales of the infringing product. Much of Michael’s work involves representing individuals and business against insurance
companies—in coverage disputes, in cases of bad-faith claims handling, and in class actions. He is a two-time finalist for the “Streetfighter of the Year” Award, given annually by the Cosumer Attorneys of California. Michael also is the author of The Twentysomething American
Dream: A Cross-Country Quest for a Generation

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PROF. CRAIG COWIE is an Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Blewett Consumer Law & Protection Program at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the
University of Montana. He, his wife, and his two children just arrived in Missoula and cannot wait to explore Montana. They moved from Washington, D.C., where Craig was most recently an Assistant Litigation Deputy in the Office of Enforcement at the Consumer Financial 
Protection Bureau and was responsible for approximately one-eighth of the Bureau’s enforcement docket. Before coming to the Bureau, he was a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block, and an attorney with the National Prison Project of the ACLU Foundation. Craig also clerked for the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after graduating Order of the Coif from the U.C.
Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Prior to becoming a lawyer, Craig studied cultural anthropology as a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, wrote software, and led bicycle trips in Europe.


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GREGORY S. MUNRO is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law having recently retired after a career that involved teaching Torts, Insurance Law and Regulation, Pretrial Advocacy and Trial Advocacy. Munro is a past president and board member of MTLA and our 2017 Career Achievement recipient. He researches and writes the Insurance Consumer Counsel’s Column for Trial Trends. Professor Munro has published articles, a book and book chapters on topics of insurance, torts, medical-legal and legal education, and is co-author of Lawsuit Guide, a book for client plaintiffs, soon to be published by Trial Guides. He co-coached the law school’s national championship Trial Team in ATLA competition from 1989 until 1999. He continues to present at CLE seminars. He serves on the Montana State Uniform District Court Rules Committee and practiced plaintiff’s
civil litigation in Billings for thirteen years before joining the UM School of Law in 1988. In his thirty years at the law school, he has continuously handled tort and insurance cases and also maintained a thriving pro bono practice.

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 JOHN F. ROMANO, editor and co-author of Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit, has tried cases to verdict in excess of 200 times. Cases have included automobile collision injury and wrongful death, trucking collision and wrongful death, automobile and vehicular highway

design and construction zone negligence, DPT vaccine, medical malpractice, product liability, wrongful death, brain and spinal cord injuries, intrauterine device, first degree murder, consumer fraud, and more. He’s currently involved on leadership committees in selected mass tort case projects. His firm is litigating pharmaceutical cases in areas including DePuy Hip Pinnacle hip cases, knee defect cases, fluoroquinolones aortic aneurysm cases; the Gulf Oil
disaster litigation, Pennsylvania (and surrounding region) “gas fracking-drilling” litigation, opioids, Hurricane Irma insurance claims, and more. In recent years, he has obtained
a multitude of major seven- and eight-figure verdicts for cases involving wrongful death, paralysis, brain injury, and more. Mr. Romano is board ceritified by the National Board
of Trial Advocacy and the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. He is a past president of the Florida Justice Association and a recipient of numerous awards.

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 CHRISTINA BRUNER SONSIRE is a partner at the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, New York where she represents plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. She attended law school at the University of Montana where she earned several academic scholarships and served Montana’s Native American population through work in the Indian Law Clinic. In the summer of 2002 Christina traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to study international indigenous affairs and participate in a conference celebrating the conclusion of the International Decade of the World Indigenous People. A member of UM’s highly selective Moot Court Team, Christina was honored as the Western Region’s Best Oralist in 2004, and her team of three earned a

trip to New York City to compete in the National Moot Court finals. Ms. Sonsire currently serves on the board of directors for the Academy of Trial Lawyers, New York’s most prestigious trial advocacy organization. One of six members to be named an Academy Dean for her work
on continuing legal education, Christina has presented more than twenty-six CLE seminars to practicing lawyers at locations all across New York.
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VICTORIA L. VREELAND is a trial lawyer in practice since 1976. In 2011, after 28 years as a partner in a major firm in Seattle, she started Vreeland Law, named in Best Law Firms in America for the past several years. She is adamant about individual rights, the right to trial by
jury, and full and fair compensation to those who have been injured by the wrongful acts of others. Her current practice concentrates on “abuse of power,” such as employment discrimination and retaliation, public policy torts, sexual coercion/abuse, interpersonal violence, civil rights, shareholder rights, and commercial torts. She and her trial team have recovered over $68 million for individuals harmed by discrimination or abuse. She is a past president of the Washington Association for Justice and a recipient of WSAJ’s trial lawyer of the year award. Prior to private practice, she served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, and for the Consumer Protection and Anti-Trust Division. Recently, she successfully represented the Okanogan County Superior Court judges and their
Superior Court and Juvenile Court Administrator against the County Commissioners in a separation of powers case for over-reaching, interference with the Court’s budget and failure to fund.

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