Feb 14, 2020 12:09 PM

University of Kansas professor helps write 'rules of the road' for lawyers

Posted Feb 14, 2020 12:09 PM


Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A University of Kansas law professor collaborated with a colleague from Oklahoma on a guide for Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

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.

To illustrate its importance, Mulligan paraphrased the statement of Rep. John Dingell at a hearing back in 1983.

"I'll let you write the substantive law, if you let me write the procedure and I'll screw you every time," Mulligan said.

The point is, procedure is the real rules lawyers work by.

"Procedure, to a large degree, is the whole gig," Mulligan said. "How you do it, where you find that evidence. Imagine if someone is saying, well, gee, I was fired from my job because of my religion, well, how are you going to prove that? Where are you going to get that information? How are you going to force people to talk to you? All that type of stuff is wrapped up in procedure and that's how people actually enforce their rights."

If you are a part of any legal action on the civil side, procedure matters.

"People interact with them daily," Mulligan said. "Anyone who has ever been involved in a lawsuit of any kind or has answered a subpoena or has been involved in what is called discovery or had to bring documents to some sort of proceeding, all that has to do with procedure."

Since the combinations of facts in any given case are infinitely complex, there must be a set of rules for how facts are determined, or arguments cannot be constructed successfully and countered where necessary to bring out the truth.