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.



Will graduated from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Education and Spanish, and a minor in Computer Science. He also has an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Will joined First Court in 2004 as a web applications developer, programmer, and graphic artist. 

Will manages a team of software developers and testers. Projects have included First Court's proprietary live trial application, Vulcan Interactive, as well as reporting, private trial preparation, and juror management applications.

Will is active in the community as a board member for the Mandan Soccer Club, and is an active member of his church. He enjoys playing piano and writes music.

Damon Williams - Hardware

Damon Williams

Damon started his career in special needs/behavioral education, and as a vocational instructor in small engine repair, welding, and horticulture. He has 14 years of experience in logistics, audio engineering, and video editing, and worked as an independent IT provider/consultant for small businesses.

Damon's passion at First Court is for excellence. He's constantly looking for ways to improve our product, to make what we do better, more reliable, more professional, and more efficient. Quality is his focus, and he always has an eye out for ways we can improve what we offer. Damon loves music, cycling, and is an avid Star Wars fan. 


Chris Fennen

Chris has been instrumental in the success of First Courts mediation division. From on-boarding new clients to helping develop the present day mediation process all our clients have come to love, Chris is First Court mediation.  Chris graduated from Rutgers University, and prior to First Court worked as a consultant and entrepreneur. 

Chris wakes up every day excited to help others discover new ways to improve their work and life. He lives in Mifflintown, PA and enjoys collecting superhero memorabilia and spending time with his canine companion, Mercury. 

Joe Liffrig - management

Joe Liffrig

Joe graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with an officer’s commission and a B.S. in Management, and earned his MBA from the University of Denver. He served tours of duty in San Francisco and New York as a commercial shipping inspector and accident investigator working hand in hand with risk management and legal professionals, developing regulatory solutions to improve safety and business outcomes for the industry.

This experience building consensus between adverse parties inspired Joe to seek out opportunities as a peacemaker, leading him to join First Court as a mediator and manager. Joe currently lives and works in the Denver metro area with his wife, children, and German Shepard Shelby.

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.

Kara Gardner - Operations

Kara Gardner

Kara is instrumental in the day to day jury recruiting process for our various projects. Prior to joining the First Court team, she worked in banking, insurance, and dispatch.

Kara was born and raised in North Dakota, and currently lives in Virginia with her husband, who is a professor of Theology and Philosophy. She has a very large extended family and enjoys trips back home to North Dakota to spend time with them. She also enjoys traveling, reading, dancing, crocheting, and appreciating nature. 

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! 


Gabriel Perez - Mediator

perez family

Gabriel is an attorney and mediator with First Court. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and Michigan State University School of Law.  Prior to joining First Court, Gabriel was a Senior Associate for a general practice firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gabriel’s area of practice included criminal defense, worker’s compensation, and personal injury litigation. Gabriel lives in the Denver metro area with his wife and two children.

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? Please give us a call at (855) 908-9089, or email careers@firstcourt.com