A status conference is a pre-trial meeting of attorneys with a judge. Such a meeting is required under Federal Rules of Procedure and in many states the purpose of the status conference is to lay out the progress of the case and set a timeline for discovery matters and a trial. Counsel will confer regarding the status of the case, outstanding discovery issues, need for motions prior to the trial date, and readiness for trial. The judge is usually informed about any settlement negotiations, probable length of trial and other matters relevant to moving the case toward trial. In addition to setting the schedule for the case, many judges try to learn more about the case and give some of their initial impressions. Court rules usually require the filing of a status conference statement prior to the conference.
Status conference statements vary by jurisdiction. The following is an example of a statute governing status conference statements:
"Rule 1640.5. Status conference statement
(a) In the two pilot program courts selected to make mandatory referrals to mediation, the court shall require, by local rule, that, prior to the status conference, the parties serve and file an early mediation status conference statement. This statement shall include:
- A discussion of the appropriateness of the case for referral to mediation; and
- A list of three nominees to serve as mediator.
(b) In the other pilot program courts, the court may provide for a status conference statement by local rule."