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)
  • Sara Ellis (ND Ill.)
  • Eldon Fallon (La. E.D.)
  • Donovan Frank (Minn.)
  • Joseph Goodwin (W.Va. S.D.)
  • John Lee (Ill. N.D.)
  • Brian Martinotti (N.J.)
  • David Proctor (Ala. N.D.) (JPML)
  • Casey Rodgers (Fla. N.D.)
  • Cynthia Rufe (Pa. E.D.)
  • Amy St. Eve (7th Cir.)
  • Edmund Sargus (Ohio S.D.)

Recognizing the strategic role of the interplay between state and federal courts for parties and counsel, the Institute has formed a working group focused specifically on these issues.

  • Brian Martinotti (N.J.) (Co-Chair)
  • William Highberger (Los Angeles, CA) (Co-Chair)
  • Daniel Buckley (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Rachelle Harz (Bergen County, NJ)
  • Carolyn Kuhl (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Arnold New (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Mary Wiss (San Francisco, CA)

The Institute also works to actively further the development of new entrants to the complex litigation space, as well as programs to help enhance the awareness of new techniques and lessons learned among experienced players.  We are grateful for the tremendous work of Judges John Lee (MDL) and Amy St. Eve and Sara Ellis (Class Actions), in leading these efforts.

  • John Lee (Ill. ND) and Casey Rodgers (Fla. N.D.) – MDL Chairs
  • Amy St. Eve (7th Cir.) and Sara Ellis (Ill. ND) – Class Action Co-Chairs

We recognize the late Judge Beverly O’Connell (Cal. C.D.) for her service as a member of our Judicial Advisory Board, and will present our first award in her honor at our state/federal coordination conference in May.

We appreciate the efforts and guidance of special masters Cathy Yanni and Ed Gentle, as well as the ongoing leadership of former judicial advisory board members and federal judges David Herndon and Jay Gandhi.

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 Institute recognizes the unique role in-house counsel play in the complex litigation system and values the perspective they bring to the range of Institute programs, from conferences to rule of law development.  The in-house counsel advisory board is comprised of a variety of industries impacted by today’s complex litigation system. 

  • Connie Matteo, Pfizer (chair)
  • Kristen Allen, State Farm
  • Will Barnette, Home Depot
  • Christina Diaz, GSK
  • James Grasty, Merck & Co.
  • Chris Guth, Bayer
  • Craig Halseth, Ford Motor Company
  • Carrie Hazard, Endo
  • Jeana Littrell, Fed Ex
  • Susan Manardo, Sanofi
  • Rita McConnell, Medtronic
  • Jody Porter, Toyota
  • Jon Wasserman, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Aviva Wein, Johnson & Johnson

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.  

Past Events:

  • Rising Stars Conference – January 18-19, 2018
  • Bridge Program – September 14-15, 2017 

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. 

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. 

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 2018-2019 board members can be sent to the director, and interested individuals are also welcome to reach out to the director for more information. 

To nominate an Emerging Leader, email the director »

2017-2018 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