Lieff Cabraser plaintiffs’ attorney Elizabeth J. Cabraser spoke with legal news service Law360 on the topic of how to land a leadership role in multidistrict litigation or MDL. Alongside other veteran litigators, Ms. Cabraser advises young lawyers to think long-term, start out small and build a reputation, view the judge’s perspective, and think about the business side of cases when working towards landing a seat on an executive or steering committee.
Ms. Cabraser explained that there is no shortcut to developing a good reputation, and that her legal success was built gradually over the course of decades – it takes time.
“They really don’t teach this in law school,” she said. “I never set out to become a lead counsel in multidistrict litigation, but I’ve been doing it for over 35 years now, and so as MDLs have evolved, I’ve kind of learned about them by doing them.”
“Part of it is just being around and doing the work over a period of years,” Cabraser added. “Becoming known to judges, becoming known to colleagues, becoming known not only to fellow steering committee members, but even to opposing counsel.”
Ms. Cabraser suggests that young attorneys to not overlook their involvement in smaller MDLs, even if their ultimate goal is towards an MDL leadership position.
“They are interesting and important, but they don’t involve a cast of tens of thousands,” she stated. “Younger attorneys can apply for roles, do the work, and build up some of that sweat equity so when a larger case or a more high-profile case comes along, they’re ready. They’ve done it.”
About Elizabeth J. Cabraser
Under Elizabeth Cabraser’s leadership, Lieff Cabraser has become one of the country’s largest law firms serving clients seeking redress for financial and consumer fraud, anti-competitive practices, harmful drugs and products, and illegal employment practices. For over three decades, Ms. Cabraser has made sure that our firm remains dedicated to its core values.
A name partner and co-founder of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Ms. Cabraser chairs the firm’s personal injury and environmental litigation practice groups. One of the nation’s leading class action litigators and possessing unparalleled expertise in complex civil litigation, she has served as court-appointed lead, co-lead, or class counsel in scores of federal multi-district and state coordinated proceedings. These cases include multi-state tobacco, the Exxon Valdez disaster, Breast Implants, Fen-Phen (Diet Drugs), Vioxx, Toyota sudden acceleration, numerous securities/investment fraud cases, and Holocaust litigation.
Today, she serves in court-appointed leadership positions in several of the nation’s highest profile civil cases, such as VW “Clean Diesel” Emissions case, GM ignition switch defect, and Takata defective airbag litigation.