About First Court

Our Focus: practical tools to evaluate and settle lawsuits.

Because the opinions that ultimately count the most in our civil justice system belong to the jurors, First Court has retained its focus on helping to evaluate and settle lawsuits based on the reactions of disinterested citizens. Although we work with experts in communication theory, the heart of our research and settlements has never been theory.  Instead, our process centers on real lawyers, real witnesses and real jurors.

We use our Midwest location to conduct private trials and mediations throughout the United States. In the last 28, years we have had the pleasure of working with great attorneys in some of the most urban and some of the most rural venues in the countryfrom New York City all the way to Vidalia, Louisiana.

Our Story: small mediations to nationwide consulting.


Our company began in 1989 as the first mediation organization in North Dakota. Our founder, Mike Liffrig, was convinced he could use his litigation knowledge to save time, money and stress for the people caught up in lawsuits.

We built a private courtroom in Houston in the 90s. Soon we were working with great lawyers from all over the nation. First Court has now evaluated and resolved lawsuits in 44 states and counting.

We aim to become America's most trustworthy, creative and efficient dispute resolution organization.



Mike is an attorney, mediator, and expert jury consultant. Mike graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1985. He started his career at a prominent North Dakota insurance defense firm, and eventually went on to start his own law firm specializing in plaintiff's personal injury work. As a mediator, Mike has settled over 1,200 cases. Mike founded First Court in 1989. Over the years, First Court has produced hundreds of mock trials in over 40 states. Mike excels at crafting jury research projects to provide realistic, high-quality feedback on the most important issues in a case.

On the personal side, Mike ran for the United States Senate in 2004. Mike and his wife Julie have nine children, and live on a 500-acre ranch in beautiful western North Dakota.

Ryan Liffrig - Operations

Ryan Liffrig

Ryan is an attorney, mediator, and jury consultant for First Court. He attended the University of Notre Dame prior to earning his J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School. Before joining First Court, Ryan worked in Indianapolis for six years as an attorney representing businesses, schools, and individuals. As an attorney, Ryan's practice included litigation, business advising, and IP work. Ryan's focus with First Court is on creating, organizing, and analyzing excellent jury research projects for our clients across the country.

Ryan lives in the Denver, Colorado, area with his wife and two young boys. Ryan enjoys outdoor activities of all sorts-from skiing to biking to rock climbing, as well as building towers and tunnels with his two-year-old.

Melissa Kienzle - Operations

Melissa Kienzle

Melissa recruits and manages jurors, and facilitates logistics for jury research cases. She attended Bismarck State College, and started her own wedding decor business. Her previous work experience includes managing services for people with disabilities. Working with people has always been a passion of Melissa's. She appreciates being part of a team at First Court that cares about people and resolving disputes, and she loves the chance to create job opportunities for people! 


Joe Maronick - Client Development

Maronick Family
Joe works to develop and maintain partnerships with First Court clients. Joe started his career as a Territory Manager for Swisher International in Portland, OR. He and his family relocates when he was promoted to Denver, CO as a Regional Manager. He then worked for 7 year at Advantage Solutions as a multi-line Food Broker. Joe is experienced is cultivating relationships and strategic business development.

Joe was born and raised in Helena, MT and currently lives in Castle Rock, CO. He is married to Erin and they have two young boys who keep them both very busy. For the past six years he has been an avid soccer coach. He enjoys ski trips with his family and friends. Every year they all look forward to going back to Montana for his family golf tournament that was started in 1952.

Interested in joining our team? Email careers@firstcourt.com