This week, Vanderbilt Law School hosted the panel discussion “What is a Plaintiff’s Attorney?” organized by the student group Plaintiffs’ Advocates & Litigation Society (PALS). Lieff Cabraser partners Mark P. Chalos and Kenneth S. Byrd were among the featured panelists, exploring the distinctions between plaintiff-side attorneys and traditional Big Law roles. Panelists addressed what is meant by the term “plaintiff’s attorney” and discussed the intricacies of the practice, providing insights into the professional life of attorneys in this area.

The full list of panelists included:

Mark P. Chalos, Lieff Cabraser Nashville Managing Partner
Janna Maples, Stranch, Jennings & Garvey Partner
John Spragens, Founder of Spragens Law
Kenny S. Byrd, Lieff Cabraser Partner

About the Plaintiffs’ Advocates & Litigation Society (PALS)

The Plaintiffs’ Advocates & Litigation Society (PALS) at Vanderbilt Law School is dedicated to broadening the career perspectives of law students beyond the conventional paths of joining corporate defense firms or working for the government or nonprofits. Recognizing the influence of institutional norms and corporate sponsorship on career choices, PALS emphasizes the option of becoming a plaintiff’s attorney. This path allows students to leverage their high-quality legal education to represent individuals against powerful corporate entities. PALS aims to introduce Vanderbilt students to this alternative legal career by organizing events that offer insights into plaintiff advocacy, collaborating with firms that align with their values, and providing resources and information that might not be available through traditional career services. Additionally, PALS focuses on connecting students with career opportunities in the plaintiff’s legal sector, an area that is typically challenging to enter.

About Mark Chalos

The Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s Nashville office, Mark P. Chalos (twitter/X: @mpchalos) represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries and families whose loved ones died due to the negligence or misconduct of others. In the national opioids litigation, Mark represents counties and cities across the U.S., as well as Native American Tribes and health benefit plans. Most recently, Mark served as trial counsel in the national bellwether trial on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, which resulted in a successful verdict for plaintiffs.

Mark has tried cases to juries and judges around the country. He serves in the leadership of numerous class actions and multidistrict litigations. He is Immediate Past-President of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School teaching The Practice of Aggregate Litigation, a frequent speaker at legal seminars nationwide on a variety of civil litigation topics, and is regularly cited by top-tier media outlets.

About Kenny Byrd

A partner in our Nashville office, Kenneth S. Byrd represents clients in mass tort cases, defective product cases and consumer fraud litigation. He is a leader in groundbreaking national litigation filed on behalf of Tennessee governments and taxpayers, among many others, against opioid manufacturers and distributors in the wake of the ongoing national opioids crisis. Kenny also serves on the Early Vetting Committee in the nationwide product defect lawsuit against 3M relating to allegations that for over a decade, 3M provided defective earplugs to men and women in the U.S. military.

In 2013 and 2014, Kenny was the lead trial attorney in obtaining several substantial jury verdicts for smokers and their families, including a $27 million jury verdict and a $41 million jury verdict. These verdicts were ranked by The National Law Journal among the Top 100 Verdicts of 2014 and paved the way to a $100 million global settlement with Big Tobacco in 2015 on behalf of hundreds of gravely injured smokers in Florida, the first smoker cases group settlement by the cigarette companies in history.

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