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KU law professor co-writes latest edition of frequently cited guide to civil litigation

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas law professor has co-written a treatise that will help guide judges and attorneys through the ever-evolving field of civil procedure with in-depth, nuanced information on the rules guiding federal courts. “Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules and Commentary, 2020 edition” is complete and designed to keep law practitioners up to date.

Lumen Mulligan, Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor at the KU School of Law, and Steven Gensler, Gene and Elaine Edwards Family Chair in Law, President’s Associates Presidential Professor, University of Oklahoma College of Law, co-wrote the latest edition after tracking thousands of cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts as well as the federal civil rules that have changed as a result. It is designed as a user-friendly guide to provide a balanced, nuanced explanation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

“This project is designed to show we’re keeping track of all 92 federal courts as well as the Supreme Court and letting practitioners know what the answers are to the hundreds of questions they may have about the federal rules,” Mulligan said. “Our goal is to keep it as a two-volume project that is balanced, user-friendly and focused on the case law.”

The authors cover each Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, which guides civil law. For each, they also explain how it has been interpreted and how it is used in practice. For judges, it is designed to help them find answers in the formation of judgments, while attorneys find it useful in preparing the best possible cases for their clients.

In the past decade, the treatise has been cited hundreds of times by federal courts, especially district courts, one of the most important venues in civil procedure. Attorneys have cited it exponentially more times in preparing their briefs for courts. The design allows attorneys and judges to find quick, yet nuanced, answers to questions regarding the federal rules presented by impartial civil procedure experts.

The 2020 edition features updates to rules, information on rulings that have affected them and reactions to rulings from lower courts. The authors also provide emphasis on matters critical to practice such as pleading and amendments, motions to dismiss, discovery and summary judgment.

Mulligan said the project is gratifying to be a part of, given that the treatise can be of service to judges, attorneys and courts “from Guam to Puerto Rico.” He gives special credit to KU School of Law for providing the support necessary to devote the time and effort to the extensive undertaking.

“This is a large-scale project with the goal of making civil litigation a bit easier to deal with for judges and lawyers and to bring clarity without taking sides,” Mulligan said. “In supporting my work and that of my faculty colleagues, KU Law provides value back to the law and the bar, and that’s a hallmark of our school.”

In addition to teaching classes and publishing in top academic journals on civil procedure matters, he also co-writes annual updates to civil procedure on the state level. The annual “Kansas Code of Civil Procedure” helps guide the State Supreme Court, courts of appeals, the state bar, judges and practitioners.

Photo credit: KU Alumni Association