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Summary Judgment in Contract Cases: Strategy and Tactics for Movants and Respondents

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will guide experienced counsel through advanced strategies and tactics for successfully avoiding, achieving, or resisting summary judgment in a contract dispute. The panel will discuss the rules of contract interpretation and real versus imagined ambiguity, when other evidence and parol evidence are admissible, what issues and arguments are most well received by a court, and how to make it easier for the court to decide the issue. The program will discuss strategies to use when the contract at issue is tailored to a transaction and when it is a template used by the client routinely, as well as the consequences of having a court definitively interpret the writing. For these reasons, this program will also assist corporate counsel who draft contracts.


Contract disputes are ideally suited for summary judgment because the interpretation of the contract is a question of law for the court. When a written agreement is clear, complete, and unambiguous it will normally be enforced according to its meaning, but under some circumstances parol evidence may be admissible to help the court construe the contract.

Difficulties can arise when the parties' intent changes over time and when substitutions or adjustments must be made in performance. The attorney who drafted the contract may or may not be able to testify.

Summary judgment is often decided on briefs. Putting the right issues before the court in briefing and oral argument requires thought and planning.

Listen as this stellar panel shares what they have learned from litigating contract cases for decades.



  1. What is the best way to avoid creating issues of fact?
  2. What are the best types of issues to submit for summary judgment?
  3. What are the best and worst arguments to make on summary judgment in contract cases?
    1. Interpretation of contracts
    2. Ambiguities are the exception, not the rule
    3. Parol evidence rule
    4. Anti-reliance clauses
    5. Creating and rebutting material questions of fact
    6. Burden of proof
      1. In the trial court
      2. On appeal
        1. De novo
        2. Evaluation of trial court's expressed reasoning


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Evaluating strategic decisions regarding rules of interpretation for a contract
  • Avoiding determination that a contract is ambiguous as a matter of law


Cochran, Anthony
Anthony L. Cochran

Smith Gambrell & Russell

Mr. Cochran represents individuals and businesses in a wide variety of matters. He has tried jury trials, bench trials,...  |  Read More

Eber, Michael
Michael L. Eber

Smith Gambrell & Russell

Mr. Eber is a Partner at SGR whose practice focuses on complex business litigation and appeals. He has significant...  |  Read More

Goldstein, Daniel S.
Daniel S. Goldstein

Smith Gambrell & Russell

Mr. Goldstein’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and employment law. He regularly handles cases before...  |  Read More

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