Time is Money: Lessons Learned from Rocket Dockets to Improve Efficiency in Litigation

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 60 minutes
Recorded Date: June 26, 2019
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  • What is a "Rocket Docket"?
  • Why Does Time Matter? A Plaintiff's Perspective
  • A Defendant's Perspective
  • What Factors Cause or Contribute to Extended Dockets?
  • What Techniques Do Rocket Dockets Employ?
  • What Techniques Can Realistically Work in Non-Rocket Docket Courts?
  • The Role of Bar Organizations in Contributing to Culture of Efficient and Timely Court Dockets
  • Techniques for Succeeding in Rocket Dockets: Survival Tips
  • Summary
  • Q & A
Runtime: 1 hour
Recorded: June 26, 2019


There are many factors that affect how a court chooses to manage its docket, including the type and volume of cases filed in that court. There is no "one size fits all" approach for courts to adjudicate cases fairly, efficiently and effectively. For various reasons, some courts have adopted rules, orders and practices that attempt to accelerate various aspects of the pretrial and trial process and, as a result, have become known as "rocket dockets." Critics of rocket dockets often complain that rocket dockets do not allow the litigants sufficient time and opportunity to develop and try their cases in a complete and fair manner. Advocates of such courts point to the inherent risks and exorbitant costs of years-long litigation, including the delayed recovery to prevailing plaintiffs. There certainly are lessons to be learned from litigating in rocket dockets. The cost of litigation continues to rise, and new technology both facilitates and burdens case management.

This program will explore what we can learn from the rocket docket experience for the benefit of all litigants who want to increase efficiency without impairing just results.

This program was recorded on June 26th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Hailyn J. Chen

Co-Managing Partner
Munger Tolles & Olson LLP

Hailyn Chen is a Munger, Tolles & Olson litigation partner and Co-Managing Partner of the firm. She focuses her practice on complex business litigation, white collar criminal defense and government investigations.

Ms. Chen frequently represents higher education institutions in a range of litigation matters and investigations. In 2018, Ms. Chen was named among California’s “Top Women Lawyers” by the Daily Journal and “Most Influential Woman Attorney” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Ms. Chen has significant experience in preparing complex commercial litigation and class actions for trial, representing companies in various sectors including energy, financial services, entertainment and technology.

Ms. Chen has counseled higher education clients in internal and government investigations, crisis management, criminal prosecutions and ongoing compliance issues related to government claims and federal grants. She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and has developed a broad understanding of the unique management, operational and regulatory challenges universities face.

Ms. Chen also has extensive experience representing universities in their handling of sexual misconduct matters, including in administrative writ proceedings and Title IX suits for monetary damages. She counsels clients on compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act and FERPA and recommends changes, where appropriate, to policies and procedures for investigating and resolving sexual misconduct allegations. Ms. Chen guides clients through crisis management and helps them develop internal and external communication strategies with respect to these challenging issues.

Ms. Chen has significant experience in leading internal investigations, representing the company itself in some instances or the independent, special and/or audit committee in others. These investigations have covered a wide range of issues, including alleged financial misconduct, alleged misuse of government grants and university resources, and alleged conflict of interest, nonprofit tax law, and False Claims Act violations.

Ms. Chen was appointed by the California Supreme Court to a three-year term on the State Bar of California’s governing body, the Board of Trustees. She also co-chairs the ABA Section of Litigation’s Woman Advocate Committee.

Ms. Chen earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University, where she was one of the first female coxswains to lead the Yale varsity men’s crew and was awarded the MVP award in 1996.

Hon. John F. Anderson

Federal Magistrate Judge
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

John F. Anderson is a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He was appointed to this position on January 22, 2008, and his current term will expire on January 21, 2024.

In July 2013, Judge Anderson issued a warrant for the arrest of Edward Snowden, who was accused of leaking classified information from the National Security Administration.[3] That month, Anderson also issued a search warrant for the home of activist Adam Kokesh, who allegedly had a loaded gun in Freedom Plaza (near the U.S. Capitol) on Independence Day. Kokesh was shown loading a shotgun in a video posted to YouTube, in which he also said, "We are the final American revolution...see you next Independence Day."[4] Kokesh and his roommates claimed that the U.S. Park Police SWAT team, who executed the warrant, used excessive force. The police force chose not to respond to that allegation.

Anderson received his undergraduate and J.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. He was admitted to the bar in 1981.

Charles F.B. McAleer, Jr.

Miller & Chevalier Chartered

Charles McAleer counsels and defends business entities facing complex commercial disputes, including director and officer liability, corporate governance, entity control, civil fraud, contract, business tort, unfair competition, trade secret, intellectual property, Civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, professional liability, securities, real estate and employment-related claims. During his career, Mr. McAleer has represented business entities across a variety of industries. The unifying feature of Mr. McAleer’s practice has been CAP? or “Critical Asset Protection”: minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity for companies by protecting their most critical assets, such as human capital, trade secrets, confidential information, technology, contracts and business relationships. He has dedicated his practice to finding successful, cost-effective, and timely solutions to business disputes.

Mr. McAleer also has extensive experience in prosecuting and defending claims involving foreign entities and individuals, including the litigation of personal jurisdiction issues, obtaining and opposing evidence located abroad through international treaties and conventions, and conducting depositions outside of the United States. He has appeared as trial and appellate counsel in both federal and state courts, as well as in several intellectual property disputes before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). He is a permanent member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.

Mr. McAleer was a long-time member of the Board of the Bar association for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria Division), known as the “Rocket Docket,” where he has practiced for over 25 years. From 2010-11, he served as the President of the Bar Association, and for many years he was the editor of the “Rocket Docket News,” which is the official, award-winning publication of the Bar association. He is the author of various articles in the American Bar Association’s Business Torts Journal.

Published appellate opinions issued in cases in which Mr. McAleer successfully represented business clients include: Cordant, Inc. v. Ogden Government Services Corp., et al., 493 S.E.2d 512 (Va. 1997), in which the Virginia Supreme Court expressly rejected adoption of promissory estoppel as a cause of action in Virginia; and RTC, as Conservator for Commonwealth Savings Bank v. Maplewood Investments, et al., 31 F.3d 1276 (4th Cir. 1994), in which the Fourth Circuit rejected the application of federal common law to deficiency claims asserted by the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) against a partnership and certain individual guarantors.

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