Annual Ski Seminar Wrap-Up
January 28 - February 4, 2007
Beaver Creek, Colorado

View Seminar photos

The Fabulous CAOC Annual
Beaver Creek Ski Seminar

By Ronald H. Rouda, CAOC Former President and Seminar Co-Chair

Are you aware of the yearly ritual that occurs during the height of the ski season in Beaver Creek, Colorado?

For some twenty years, stellar trial lawyers, the likes of Wylie Aitken, Herb Hafif, Bill Veen, Browne Greene, Cynthia Chihak, Hon. Steve Denton, Cynthia McGuinn, John McGuinn, Brian Chase, Lisa Maki, John Winer, John Montevideo and many more have encouraged family, friends and colleagues to meet in the beautiful snowy mountains of Colorado at a place known for its world class skiing and excellent food and accommodations. Beaver Creek has been referred to by the attendees as their home away from home.

Member Bill Veen said:

I was a latecomer to the Beaver Creek seminar and only showed up as a consequence of a case settling unexpectedly. It was well worth the time away from the office. Not only was the skiing superb and the company unparalleled, but the educational portion of the program was very helpful. High Impact Graphics had demonstrative evidence presentations including animations that were truly trial winners. I also was privileged to witness my good friend Ron Rouda receive a standing ovation to a packed house at Mickey’s in Vail when he presented an impromptu presentation of Rhapsody in Blue.

Let me introduce you to the Beaver Creek Annual Ski Seminar.

This gathering is more about getting to know one another and becoming part of a family of successful trial attorneys than simply attending a seminar. All of us who have enjoyed the beauty and fabulous skiing offered by the Colorado mountains know that this meeting of the minds is unlike any other CLE seminar in that legal education, while very important, takes a back seat to building relationships.

Where else can you spend an entire week, interacting with some of the most knowledgeable and skilled trial attorneys in California? This is not to say that the 12.5 hours of CLE credits earned is not important, it is just that the way in which the CLE credits are earned that is more important.

At the Beaver Creek Annual Ski Seminar, attendees spend time together during meals, on the slopes and during the seminar discussions. The seminars are held in the afternoon and are presented in a roundtable format that encourages discussion and participation rather than dry lectures. After each seminar the attendees often pair up to dine together at some of the most wonderful restaurants in the United States. Every year a Sleigh Ride Group Dinner to Beano’s Cabin, located at midmountain, is included in the package.

Wherever you stay at Beaver Creek, access to the ski slopes on fast moving modern chairlifts is convenient and easy. After sharing a hearty breakfast, included in the package, the participants may choose to ski on the world class Beaver Creek mountain, or go over to Vail, a short distance away. After a full day of skiing, sightseeing, or what ever your fancy chooses, the attendees meet to participate in high level discussions about law, strategy, tactics, jury selection, opening statements, final argument, illustrative graphics, and innovations in jury persuasion. Often there will be a presentation by the trial attorneys who have recently won some of the most important cases in recent years. For example, Douglas Arnest, MS, of High Impact Litigation, was this year’s seminar sponsor. Doug showcased some of High Impact’s products and services that had been utilized by members of the group in the past year. These presentations were augmented by discussions about the efficacy of computer animations, trial exhibits, settlement documentaries and structured settlements.

Special attention was given this year to two innovations, pioneered by the team at High Impact, that were used to demonstrate brain injuries and catastrophic injury cases: The “Diagnostic Slice Chooser” was used successfully by the firm of Aitken, Aitken & Kohn to demonstrate their client’s initial and residual brain injury. The “Digital Injury Summary Presentation” was used successfully by the firm of Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & Zanobini to demonstrate their client’s catastrophic electrical burn injuries.

This year’s roundtable topics included discussions on Vicarious Liability by Wylie and Chris Aitken, Worker’s Compensation Third Party C & R by John Montevideo, Judicial Independence by Ronald Rouda, Persuasive Communication Techniques by the Hon. Steven Denton, The Interplay of Medical Malpractice and Elder Abuse by Cynthia Chihak, and Hospital Negligence by Robert Ruch.

Each attendee is always encouraged to, and given the opportunity to, speak at the conference on topics of particular interest to the group. This type of group participation ensures that attendees learn from the experts and also have the opportunity to share their unique trial experiences.

Every year we hold a NASTAR race, and all of the participants are encouraged to win the gold, silver or bronze medal depending on your time whizzing down the mountain course. This year you should have seen Bill Veen, Wylie Aitken, and Chris Aitken, not to mention a host of other finely trained Olympic-like athletes, fly down the mountain. Like Flash Gordon they were already!

Do the pleasant surroundings contribute to the wonderful experience and camaraderie? You bet. For example, I can recall fondly how one year Wylie Aitken and wonderful wife, Betty, prepared a special listing of the local restaurants in Beaver Creek, nearby Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead. In their printed restaurant guide they suggested The Bristol at Arrowhead, and they recommended bringing Ronald Rouda for your fine company. (No kidding I still have the Aitken’s menu framed, hanging on the wall of my law office. Just don’t ask me how many years ago this was.)

Beaver Creek is just the place to learn, a place to grow, and a place to make new friends with some of the most fascinating people, including, yes, trial lawyers – a unique place, and a unique experience indeed!

When you join us next year, you will not regret it. In fact, based on my experience having attended and participated in an awful lot of other CLE seminars during my forty-seven years of being a trial lawyer I can assure you that the Beaver Creek Annual Ski Seminar will be the best you ever attended, and it will remain part of your fondest memories of the best days in your life.

Please contact Lori Sarracino at CAOC to RSVP for the 2008 Ski Seminar soon, as there are a limited number of spaces available for next year.

We look forward to you joining the family! 


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