Case Management/Moderated Scheduling Conference

Parties could benefit from meeting with the judge or judicial officer at the outset of the case to discuss the trajectory and management of the case, including a scheduling order that addresses motion practice, proportional (i.e., staged discovery, and the timing of ADR processes.) The Case Management Conference can take place after the Early Intervention Conference (to confirm or refine the agreements reached by counsel at the Early Intervention Conference) or in lieu of the Early Intervention Conference.

Often the Courts will triage the case to determine what level of judicial involvement is appropriate (i.e., solely an Early Intervention Conference, a Case Management Conference, or both). This Conference occurs very early in the case and, like the Early Intervention Conference, its purpose is to develop a case management and ADR Plan that includes the appointment of a mutually agreed upon neutral who will be available, if needed, to assist the parties address disputes prior to mediation.

With the goal of achieving the earliest possible case disposition, in many Michigan business courts, judges are meeting face-to-face with the attorneys (and sometimes the parties) approximately 45-90 days after the filing of an action, and tailoring scheduling orders to the needs of the disputants. Depending upon the complexity of the case, future conferences are held to monitor the progress of the case. In addition to addressing the scope of discovery, and how much should be completed before engaging in an ADR process, judges also encourage the early selection of an ADR provider to help remove obstacles to settlement that would otherwise consume significant judicial time through discovery and other motions.

In preparation for the Case Management/Moderated Scheduling Conference, the court

will often ask counsel to submit a joint case management proposal that guides discussions.

Indications for consideration:

  • If the Court utilizes Early Intervention Conferences for smaller less complex disputes, the Case Management/Moderated Scheduling Conference will typically involve more complex cases that could benefit from the Judge’s presence
  • There exists a concern that counsel may not work cooperatively to ensure the case management and ADR plans are met in a timely fashion
  • Parties need to schedule and dispose of preliminary matters that will have a significant impact upon the management of the case and the timing of discovery (motions to dismiss, change of venue, etc.)
  • It appears to the court there is a significant likelihood the parties may not be able to meet important case milestones (discovery or motion cut off, deadline to engage in ADR, etc.)
  • The court desires to establish specific protocols and procedures in the event discovery or other pre-trial disputes arise

Timing

Very early in the litigation and typically the first encounter counsel have with the court.