December 19, 2013 Articles

How I Began My Class Action Practice

One lawyer's journey from general litigation to class action expertise.

By Kate R. Isley

Two years ago, the extent of my knowledge of and experience in class actions was limited to a complex litigation course I took in law school. I had four years of general litigation practice under my belt and had always thought class actions sounded interesting, but it was not until I was thrown into drafting a class certification opposition that the unique issues and strategic considerations of defending clients in class actions became my reality.

Class action practice is different from non-aggregated litigation in a number of important aspects. First, the life of the case takes on a different rhythm owing to an additional layer of procedure imposed on aggregate litigation. Second, there are unique burdens imposed on named plaintiffs to ensure a case may properly proceed as a representative action. Third, certain types of class actions have the propensity to spur copy-cat cases that increase a client’s exposure to liability exponentially from what may have been expected at the start of the case. Defense-side practitioners must consider these three issues, among others, to defend clients effectively from class actions.

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