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Anyone practice "complex Litigation"

What exactly makes something "complex litigation" vs. just g thirdtierlaw07/02/18
Complex litigation is another way to make people feel good a jd4hire07/02/18
Awesome! Thank you so much! The guy's prior clients list is thirdtierlaw07/02/18
Lots of discovery and expert witness dependence are the hall midlaw07/03/18
I've been told complex business litigation means non-insuran lolwutjobs07/02/18
Pressing or defending a mish-mash of state and federal claim wutwutwut07/02/18
I'm thinking about sending him a thank you card. I have a go thirdtierlaw07/02/18
Given "I could never get a read on this judge... barely get wutwutwut07/02/18
jd4hire pretty much beat me to it, but "complex litigation" williamdrayton07/02/18
Complex means just that, multiple claims, multiple parties, trollfeeder07/02/18
Millions of documents, frequently, too. therewillbeblood07/02/18
My understanding is that complex litigation means trying to ibrslave07/02/18
When all else fails, read the law: 2018 California Rule passportfan307/02/18
I have always considered “complex” to be almost synonymo disappearedattorney07/02/18
The answers above are pretty good. However, if you want to k jorgedeclaro07/03/18
In my experience, Complex Litigation means the court will ac hous07/04/18
Thank you everyone for your responses! I met with the guy ye thirdtierlaw07/04/18
Thirdtierlaw, did the guy offer a job? newyorkcity07/04/18
He wants to give me a tour of the office in the next week or thirdtierlaw07/04/18
Are you in charge of your own shop? As enticing as this look snowday7507/05/18
I'm not. I'm an associate in a family/crim law shop. I have thirdtierlaw07/05/18
Keep an open mind. I was at a great mid-law firm that paid jd4hire07/05/18
Thanks, I'm definitely going to keep an open mind and go tou thirdtierlaw07/05/18
One warning: class firms tend to pay poorly, but with large midlaw07/09/18

thirdtierlaw (Jul 2, 2018 - 9:53 am)

What exactly makes something "complex litigation" vs. just general civil litigation?

I'm a criminal and family law attorney so I don't spend much time around that world. I received a LinkedIn message from a partner at a decent sized firm saying, "I was talking to Judge --- the other day and he recommended I buy you a cup of coffee, it's so hard to find people comfortable in the courtroom. Are you free anytime this week?"

I looked up this guys biopage and it says he and his team handles and oversees "complex litigation" for the firm.

I poked around further on their site other partners list civil litigation and business litigation, but none seem to list "complex litigation."

Is "complex litigation" a different area or is it just a marketing buzzword.

I never turn down a meeting, or free cup of coffee, but I also don't want to look like a complete idiot.

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jd4hire (Jul 2, 2018 - 10:17 am)

Complex litigation is another way to make people feel good about what they do, market themselves to potential clients, and make their spouse/ family think more of them.

Beyond that, generally indicates complex claims. They are normally complex either due to (1) extremely technical means of injury (space shuttle engine fails and incinerates team of scientist testing rocket engine); (2) sheer number of claimants (mass torts are often complex in their own right) - train derails with dozens dead and dozens significantly injured; (3) significant discovery involving significant paper documents and electronically stored information; (4) environmental litigation is often complex due to information and management.

There is no clear line, but it just indicates you aren't dealing with low impact soft tissue rear enders. I also don't think it would be idiotic to ask the partner, "so what exactly does complex litigation mean to you?" Or something along those lines.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 2, 2018 - 10:27 am)

Awesome! Thank you so much! The guy's prior clients list is pretty impressive.

I'm not really a "prestige" chaser but I still want to leave a good impression and not going to lie about being slightly intimidated by this guy.

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midlaw (Jul 3, 2018 - 7:54 pm)

Lots of discovery and expert witness dependence are the hallmarks of complex litigation. Some other types of litigation can be complex just based on procedural complexity, e.g. class actions (even if not expert dependent, which most are) or MDL practice.

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lolwutjobs (Jul 2, 2018 - 10:43 am)

I've been told complex business litigation means non-insurance defense litigation/non-personal injury stuff. So, I'd assume high exposure cases or cases with complex areas of law (i.e. securities, health care, environmental, etc.) It has no defined meaning, just an understanding I guess

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wutwutwut (Jul 2, 2018 - 11:04 am)

Pressing or defending a mish-mash of state and federal claims is another example; examples like making Lanham Act claims alongside California unfair business practices, maybe toss in some antitrust claims, all arising from the same (overall/global) group of actions by the defendant.


OP, you mention his client list, if you have time, why not try to look up some of the cases and pull the complaints/answers?

P.S. Would it be appropriate under the circumstances to send the judge a simple "thank-you" note? (Assuming you know which judge it was)

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:09 pm)

I'm thinking about sending him a thank you card. I have a good relationship with most judges I appear in front of, but I could never get a read on this judge. I won two trials in front of him, but I can barely get a smile if I see him in the hallway of the courthouse. So I'm pretty surprised he'd drop my name to anyone.

He was a well respected civil litigator prior to ascending to the bench. I'm trying to figure out if he came from this firm.

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wutwutwut (Jul 2, 2018 - 2:06 pm)

Given "I could never get a read on this judge... barely get a smile if I see him in the hallway", I retract the suggestion of the thank you card. Like you said, hard to read, and so he may not take receiving a card in the same vein you'd be offering it. I'd table it until some point in the future where you might drop him an informal "thank you" if (e.g.) you move into this new area and aren't directly before this judge so much.

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williamdrayton (Jul 2, 2018 - 12:13 pm)

jd4hire pretty much beat me to it, but "complex litigation" is a legitimate term and not just a marketing gimmick - the easiest definition is anything with voluminous amounts of discovery - so mass toxic torts, product liability, sometimes securities fraud, sometimes antitrust.

if the plaintiff attorneys are hiring "claims managers" then you know it's complex. and if either side are hiring doc reviewers, that's an automatic signifier.

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trollfeeder (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:00 pm)

Complex means just that, multiple claims, multiple parties, many pre trial issues, lots of discovery.

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therewillbeblood (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:13 pm)

Millions of documents, frequently, too.

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ibrslave (Jul 2, 2018 - 1:52 pm)

My understanding is that complex litigation means trying to address very large problems that affect many interests. A typical complex case would involve trying to reform an entire statewide system or problem, or suing on behalf of hundreds or thousands of individuals.

A similar strategy is impact litigation, where the plaintiff brings a case on behalf of one or few plaintiffs but the potential result could affect the rights of many more individuals. For example, suing on behalf of an illegal immigrant who was separated from her kids, and the outcome could affect the rights of thousands of illegal immigrant parents.

These are strategized used by a lot of nonprofits and government agencies. The idea is to get as much bang for their limited buck/resources.

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passportfan3 (Jul 2, 2018 - 6:14 pm)

When all else fails, read the law:


2018 California Rules of Court

Rule 3.400. Definition

(a) Definition

A "complex case" is an action that requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel.

(b) Factors

In deciding whether an action is a complex case under (a), the court must consider, among other things, whether the action is likely to involve:

(1)Numerous pretrial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time-consuming to resolve;

(2)Management of a large number of witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence;

(3)Management of a large number of separately represented parties;

(4)Coordination with related actions pending in one or more courts in other counties, states, or countries, or in a federal court; or

(5)Substantial postjudgment judicial supervision.

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disappearedattorney (Jul 2, 2018 - 10:47 pm)

I have always considered “complex” to be almost synonymous with “class action.” I suppose some multiparty litigation that isn’t class action could be complex, but it needs to “feel” like a class action. And if it’s one plaintiff versus one defendant, it isn’t complex.

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jorgedeclaro (Jul 3, 2018 - 1:34 pm)

The answers above are pretty good. However, if you want to know more about what his practice looks like, hop on Pacer and search by attorney. You can see exactly what type of cases he is handling in your local federal court.

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hous (Jul 4, 2018 - 9:08 am)

In my experience, Complex Litigation means the court will actively manage the case. Business cases when the amount in controversy exceeds $750,000 may be filed or transferred to the complex litigation section. Once there, the court will hold frequent case management conferences and hold the parties to a strict scheduling order.

Insurance cases can be complex and frequently are. I've seen construction defect and malpractice cases in the complex litigation section frequently. These cases frequently have a number of parties and claims involved but I sometimes see just two litigants in complex. That's why I think it has more to do with the court's active management of the cases than anything else.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 4, 2018 - 12:26 pm)

Thank you everyone for your responses! I met with the guy yesterday. He mostly handles class action, product liability cases. He also handles cases that involve multiple state and federal jurisdictions.

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newyorkcity (Jul 4, 2018 - 1:38 pm)

Thirdtierlaw, did the guy offer a job?

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 4, 2018 - 2:31 pm)

He wants to give me a tour of the office in the next week or two. (When we were getting coffee I mentioned possibly being in trial next week if the case doesn't resolve at jury draw) So I suspect that is where it's going.

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snowday75 (Jul 5, 2018 - 9:21 am)

Are you in charge of your own shop? As enticing as this looks, being a trench lit associate in these cases is grueling. You won’t have the freedom to chart the case. Assumedly, many more hours.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 5, 2018 - 10:14 am)

I'm not. I'm an associate in a family/crim law shop. I have a really great set-up now. I manage my own cases, the partners don't require much from me, I'm able to duck out to go to all my kid's activities and school functions, and I'm home for dinner almost every night while rarely working weekends. Financially, I'm doing fairly well for the area I live in.

I'm not sure it's a job I'd want. When graduating law school I passed on a midlaw transactional position because I wanted a good work/life balance and to actually see my kids when they were young. Most days I think I made the right decision, even if my starting salary then was about half of where the transactional firm was going to start me. Though I'm doing well now, I can guarantee that if I'm offered a position with this firm, I'll be offered significantly more than I'm currently making. But it isn't the money that makes it a tough decision for me. I'm a super competitive person, so I have this desire to keep pushing forward. There is a desire to see how good of an attorney I can actually be, and whether or not I could be successful in that world. The tradeoff is that I'd have very little if any, work-life balance. I doubt it'd be as bad as NYC biglaw, but I don't think it'd be drastically better either.

This is starting to turn into a diary entry haha.

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jd4hire (Jul 5, 2018 - 10:38 am)

Keep an open mind. I was at a great mid-law firm that paid very well and had the best work-life balance I've experienced thus far (I've held four jobs since graduating 7 years ago - I know a little high, but all explainable).

People in mid law and big law, for the most part, don't actually like working any more than any others, they just want the prestige and money. If there is a path towards partnership, billables are reasonable, and the collegiality is there, it could be a great move. Inversely, I know plenty of solos/ small firms who are extremely good at what they do, make as much if not more as partners at small/ mid law firms, have the joy of owning and running their own shop, and the freedom/ flexibility to make their schedule as they want it to be.

And also consider the competitive aspect of you staying where you are and potentially opening a firm of your own down the line or being a central partner in your current shop.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 5, 2018 - 11:41 am)

Thanks, I'm definitely going to keep an open mind and go tour their office and meet his team.

It's very likely that I'll be a named partner if I stay where I am now for a few more years. That is something to be said for that.

I bet a big piece of this is that I spend way too much time on forums like this. I've subconsciously started to internalize some of the "prestige" talks.

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midlaw (Jul 9, 2018 - 2:28 pm)

One warning: class firms tend to pay poorly, but with large bonuses associated with case outcomes. If your goal is consistent income, plaintiff-side class action is a poor choice. YMMV of course, but watch out, especially if the firm has had a lot of turnover.

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