At its annual Industry Awards ceremony taking place on Wednesday, December 4th in New York City, The American Lawyer will present Lieff Cabraser founding partner Elizabeth J. Cabraser with its Lifetime Achievement award. Elizabeth is among six recipients to be honored this year.
An in-depth profile of Elizabeth that was featured in The American Lawyer’s September issue pays tribute to her 41-and-counting years of litigation experience. The profile describes a career that has earned Elizabeth an outstanding reputation as one of the leading plaintiffs attorney’s in the nation, leading groundbreaking cases against corporate giants like Google and GM, and Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and Big Oil, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the BP Deepwater Horizon industrial disaster, over the last several decades.
In an interview with American Lawyer, Elizabeth explains that for her, presenting in the courtroom is like making jazz music. “You improvise, you listen,” she says. “You are making music as you go along. I watched and listened to the judges more than the lawyers because I realized very early on that I wasn’t a typical courtroom lawyer,” she notes.
Shy and soft-spoken by nature, the article notes that Elizabeth spends most of her time in the courtroom observing, listening to others instead of just running and re-running her own arguments in her head, a strategy that has allowed her to improvise dynamic and focused strategies to beat her opponents—most often men.
“So many times the guys weren’t listening, they were just talking, they have prepared outlines, they have prepared arguments, they were going to give those arguments regardless,” said Elizabeth. “I was willing to improvise. I was willing to be responsive. I was always trying to have a respectful conversation in court.”
Elizabeth told The American Lawyer that she intends to keep improvising alongside her colleagues. “When it’s time to take your solo, you take your solo,” she says. “It’s going to be for four bars only and then you get out of the way and you let somebody else lead.”
Our congratulations to Elizabeth on this wonderful and richly-deserved recognition!
About Elizabeth Cabraser
Name partner and co-founder of Lieff Cabraser, Elizabeth 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. Today, she serves in court-appointed leadership positions in several of the nation’s highest profile civil cases, including a solo leadership role in the VW “Clean Diesel” Emissions case, as well as lead positions in the GM ignition switch defect and Takata defective airbag cases, and the recently-filed Fiat Chrysler Jeep Dodge diesel emissions fraud litigation, Generic Drugs Pricing antitrust litigation, and the National Prescription Opiates litigation.