When you are a class action defense attorney, you are responsible for ensuring the best interests of your client. Class action suits can be very expensive to litigate, which is why some judges view them as a way to extort settlements. The problem with this is that settling, just for the sake of settling, will most likely mean more class action suits later on. If a suit should not be settled, then it is important that the company defense lawyer plans on taking it to trial. They should set a defense budget and then stay within that budget. This provides the best scenario for the defendant. There are several things a class action defense attorney can to help make the defense as cost effective as possible.
To begin, the internal investigation is the primary means of developing case strategy. This is not an area where the defense attorney should try and save money. However, it is important to ensure the investigation is conducted as efficiently and effectively as possible. The defense attorney can identify key witnesses within their own organization and send out litigation notices and begin isolating important documents. These interviews should be done quickly and efficiently and all outside counsel should be held to tight deadlines conduction interviews and provide interview summaries. There is no need to spend hours editing these summaries. Simply turning interview notes into content is good and less expensive. It will usually take at least two attorneys to conduct an interview, with the most junior taking notes. They can then summarize the notes and review documents. Since they are the junior lawyer, their billing is less expensive.
Once the investigation is completed, the class action defense attorney should sit down and walk through the various scenarios with any outside counsel. Budgets may then be developed based on each of the possible scenarios. Ask for a flat rate, since most class action defense attorneys will have some idea of the pre-trial phase costs at this point. Outside counsel may be open to accepting a flat rate if they believe the case can be dismissed or settled quickly.
The most expensive part of any class action lawsuit is discovery. This is done pre-trial and can be quite extensive. Depending upon what documents and evidence are provided, it can take hours to sift through everything to find what is relevant to the case. Take advantage of electronically available documents and evidence whenever possible.
Work with the outside counsel to develop a trial budget and stay within those numbers. As the in house class action defense attorney, keeping the costs down is up to you.