Slide Background

The Institute for Complex Litigation and Mass Claims
The institute hosts judicial seminars, bar conferences, academic programs, and research advancing our understanding of new developments and trends in the resolution of mass claims within and without the litigation system.

The practice of complex litigation is rapidly evolving, not only to address changes in the underlying law but also the varied and changing substantive claims being brought within the system.  At the same time, agency actions and private settlements have expanded the traditional model, presenting new strategic options for resolution.

The Institute seeks to advance the dialogue around these changes, helping stakeholders identify positive innovations early on – as well as identifying problematic developments and approaches, and facilitating a bipartisan discussion of ways to improve the system.  For more information, click on the tabs below to learn about the various aspects of our programming

The Institute’s Judicial Advisory Board provides leaders within the complex litigation bench an opportunity to participate in a strategic dialogue about lessons learned and anticipated new challenges, as well as a mechanism to share these insights with their colleagues in the bench and bar.  The Board’s membership was comprised through the recommendations of their peers within the judiciary, in an effort to identify both the thought-leaders who helped shape the law and practice to this point, as well as those judges that will be instrumental in driving the practice in the years to come. 

  • Carl Barbier (La. E.D.)
  • Charles Breyer (Cal. N.D.) (JPML)
  • Eldon Fallon (La. E.D.)
  • Donovan Frank (Minn.)
  • Jay Gandhi (Cal. C.D.)
  • Joseph Goodwin (W.Va. S.D.)
  • David Herndon (Ill. S.D.)
  • John Lee (Ill. N.D.)
  • Brian Martinotti (N.J.)
  • Beverly O’Connell (Cal. C.D.)
  • David Proctor (Ala. N.D.) (JPML)
  • Cynthia Rufe (Pa. E.D.)
  • Amy St. Eve (Ill. N.D.) 

In addition, Judge Kathryn Vratil (Kan.) (former JPML Chairwoman) and Judge Michael J. Davis (Minn.), serve as the co-chairs of the Institute’s diversity initiative, as part of our Next Generation programming. 

The institute’s advisory board is comprised of preeminent, established players and emerging leaders within the complex litigation bar, representing a diverse range of perspectives and insights. 

The board’s composition includes experts in both class actions and multidistrict litigation (MDL), as well as key players in not only federal litigation but also parallel state court litigation, in order to ensure that all stakeholder constituencies and perspectives are represented. These board members are tasked with advising on the strategic direction of the institute, as well as providing financial resources and support for the institute’s programming.

The Institute also holds roundtable dialogues on rule of law and emerging issues.  The class action roundtable is co-chaired by Lynn Sarko (Keller Rohrback, Seattle WA) and Cari Dawson (Alston & Bird, Atlanta GA); the MDL roundtable is co-chaired by Ellen Rekin (Weitz Luxenberg, New York, NY) and Joe Petrosinelli (Williams & Connolly, Washington DC). 

The Next Gen initiative is designed to help attorneys at all levels of practice, from new attorneys to seasoned partners, take the next step in their careers.  The program operates under the guidance of Judges Kathryn Vratil and Michael Davis, and program co-chairs Tripp Haston and Leigh O’Dell.  The Emerging Leaders Board of Advisors works with this leadership team in the development of programming.  

Upcoming Events:

Bridge Program – September 14-15, 2017 | RegisterAgenda  

Rising Stars Conference – January 18-19, 2018

The Bridge Program: The success of complex litigation counsel often turns upon understanding the complex strategies and motivations of stakeholders, in a process that in many ways operates based upon “inside baseball” understood only by those on the inside.  The Bridge Program is designed to help attorneys new to complex litigation – whether new to the practice of law, or mid-career attorneys at firms or in-house who are increasingly finding themselves involved in complex matters – understand this strategy, and in turn shorten the learning curve for both class action and MDL matters. Register for the 2017 Bridge Conference

Leadership Conference: For many reasons, class actions and MDL have been a particularly challenging area with respect to both diversity and succession planning. The Leadership Conference seeks to address these challenges, bringing together partners of all vintages to discuss the complex origins of this dynamic, assess the success of existing in-house, judicial and law firm initiatives, and identify the hurdles that remain and ways that they may be overcome. This bench-bar conference seeks to promote the free exchange of ideas and lessons learned, across all stakeholder groups. 2016 Agenda is listed here. 

Emerging Leaders Board of Advisors: Our advisory board is composed of leaders from both sides of the bar, typically partners within their firms with a track-record of leadership appointments.  All of our board members received the support of both sides of the bar as amongst the best and brightest of their generation, as well as being remarkable for their ability to collaborate across the aisle.  The Board is responsible for designing the Rising Stars conference, as well as participating in other Institute programming.  Nominations for 2018 board members can be sent to the director, and interested individuals are also welcome to reach out to the director for more information. 

2017 Emerging Leaders

  • Kim Adams – Levin Papantonio (Pensacola, FL)       
  • Rebecca Weinstein Bacon – Bartlit Beck (Chicago, IL)  
  • MJ Blakely – Pope McGlamry (Atlanta, GA)       
  • Sarah Burns - Simmons Hanly Conroy (Alton, IL)                 
  • Erin Copeland – Fibich, Leebron, Copeland, & Briggs (Houston, TX)                  
  • Sindhu Daniel – Baron Budd (Dallas, TX)                                                       
  • Hassia Diolombi, Shook Hardy (Miami, FL)                                           
  • Marcella Ducca, - Greenberg Traurig (Atlanta, GA)                                      
  • Jennifer Greenblatt – Goldman Ismail (Chicago, IL)                                       
  • Yalonda Howze – Mintz Levin (Boston, MA)           
  • Alyson Jones – Butler Snow (Jackson, MS)                                       
  • Danielle Mason – Beasley Allen (Montgomery, AL)                                 
  • Kristen Sagafi – Tycko & Zavareei   (Oakland, CA)                            
  • Craig Thompson – Venable (Baltimore, MD)       

Inaugural Emerging Leaders

  • The Bridge to Practice program is the best starting point.  It focuses on helping you take your knowledge of both the black letter and strategy to the next level, while also helping you build your network on both sides of the aisle.
  • The Rising Stars program is designed with your needs in mind.  The program, put together by our advisory boards, focuses on issues of particular interest to you.  We assume you have the substantive skills to succeed, but instead are focusing on how to build your book of business, how to become the first-chair in bet-the-company litigation (for defendants) or gain your first PSC appointment (for plaintiffs’ counsel).
  • In addition, given your seniority and experience, we welcome your interest in participating in any of our training and mentoring programs for younger lawyers.
  • We also welcome nominations for our Next Gen advisory board – but please note that the board’s membership is very limited and thus only a handful of those nominated will be accepted.
  • The Roundtable Conferences bring together the best and brightest partners from both sides of the aisle, together with select other stakeholders, to discuss cutting-edge issues in a confidential forum.  These topics are often selected because of their interest to the judiciary and lawmakers, with the goal of identifying commonground and facilitating productive conversations about the development of the rule of law. 
  • In addition, given your seniority and experience, we welcome your interest in participating in any of our training and mentoring programs for younger lawyers.
  • The Bridge to Practice program is the best starting point.  It focuses on helping you take your knowledge of both the black letter and strategy to the next level, while also helping you build your network on both sides of the aisle.
  • The Bridge to Practice program is the best starting point.  It focuses on helping you take your knowledge of both the black letter and strategy to the next level, while also helping you build your network on both sides of the aisle.
  • The Roundtable Conferences bring together the best and brightest partners from both sides of the aisle, together with select other stakeholders, to discuss cutting-edge issues in a confidential forum.  These topics are often selected because of their interest to the judiciary and lawmakers, with the goal of identifying commonground and facilitating productive conversations about the development of the rule of law. 
  • In addition, given your seniority and experience, we welcome your interest in participating in any of our training and mentoring programs for younger lawyers.
  • With our rule of law programming, your voices and experience help us understand what works from the perspective of the bench as well as the limitations and struggles that may hinder the efficient effectuation of justice.  With your partnership, we can find a better way forward and for this reason, we welcome your participation.
  • The participation of the bench is equally essential to our bar programs.  We very much welcome the participation of all judges in furtherance of our diversity programming.  Likewise, we are very focused on promoting ethics and professionalism for counsel, and believe that having the voice of judges in these dialogues is invaluable.