On Friday, October 15, 2021, the Claims Litigation Management (CLM) Maryland Chapter hosted a virtual lunchtime seminar entitled “A View From the Bench.” The seminar was led and moderated by Valerie E. Taylor, Esq., an Associate in the General Litigation Group at Pessin Katz Law, P.A. and Co-Director of Membership for the CLM Maryland Chapter. The seminar featured two distinguished and esteemed guest speakers – The Honorable Judith C. Ensor from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County and The Honorable Geoffrey G. Hengerer from the District Court for Baltimore City.
During the seminar, by way of introduction, both Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer spoke about their respective experiences practicing law prior to joining the Bench, including their extensive backgrounds in litigation and insurance defense practice. Judge Ensor has served as a Judge in Baltimore County since 2005, and is now head of all civil litigation matters in Baltimore County, and prior to joining the Bench, Judge Ensor was a well-respected partner specializing in litigation practice at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP. Judge Hengerer has served as a Judge in Baltimore City since 2018, and prior to joining the Bench, had an impressive career at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White and serving as Deputy Legal Counsel for Governor Hogan.
During the seminar, which was conducted in question and answer format, Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer offered numerous pieces of prudent advice on various topics such as how to most effectively facilitate settlement, ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the practice of law both in and out of the courtroom, tips for presenting one’s case to both a judge and a jury, and even some “dos” and “don’ts” for younger practitioners who are just beginning to build a practice. A more substantive discussion of the aforementioned topics is included below.
With respect to successfully facilitating settlement, Judge Ensor stressed the importance of preparing in advance with your client to both manage expectations and to ensure that as counsel, you have the authority to settle before coming to the table. Regarding tips for effective presentation of one’s case and evidence to a judge or jury, Judge Hengerer emphasized the importance of using demonstrative exhibits to help establish a point, particularly if it is very crucial to the case. For example, if the litigation is regarding a car accident, Judge Hengerer stated that a poster showing the intersection or specific place the accident happened could be useful and effective.
The tips and insight for young professionals offered by Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer were particularly helpful and constructive. Both Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer stressed the importance of being very prepared before coming into Court. This includes conferring with opposing counsel prior to appearing in front of the Judge to work out any outstanding issues and to hopefully come to the Court ready to present the evidence. Further, Judge Ensor mentioned the value in introducing one’s self to the judge’s courtroom clerk and law clerk upon entering the courtroom not only because it is polite, but it helps to get to better know what the judge may like or dislike. Finally, a common theme from the seminar, which was stressed by both Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer, was the importance of maintaining professional and amicable relationships with clients and with counsel to ensure the best possible legal process for all parties involved.
The seminar presented a very productive and fruitful conversation and the CLM Maryland Chapter is very grateful for the attendance of many CLM members, as well as local practitioners, and of course the gracious participation of Judge Ensor and Judge Hengerer. We hope to see many of you at the next CLM Maryland Chapter event!
Valerie Taylor is an Associate in the firm’s General Litigation Group. Valerie graduated cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2019. After graduating from law school, Valerie clerked for the Honorable Dennis M. Robinson, Jr. at the Baltimore County Circuit Court where she performed extensive legal research and drafted opinions and orders for family, civil, and criminal cases, with a focus on the criminal law docket. Valerie can be reached at 410-339-6771 and firstname.lastname@example.org.