Federal Appellate Judge, Two Attorneys to be Honored for Excellence in Ethics in Complex Litigation

Federal Appellate Judge, Two Attorneys to be Honored for Excellence in Ethics in Complex Litigation
• First-ever awards for ethics in complex litigation excellence will be presented Oct. 22.

• Nominations evaluated by a committee comprising a federal judge, scholars, and litigators.

• Committee selected a current judge on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a plaintiff’s attorney, and a defense attorney.

SAN FRANCISCO – Sep 30, 2022 – Nominated for their contributions to ethics in class actions and complex litigation, the first-ever recipients of the Awards for Excellence in Ethics in Complex Litigation are: jurist, scholar, and teacher, the Honorable William Fletcher; preeminent plaintiff’s attorney Elizabeth J. Cabraser; and distinguished employment defense attorney Fred W. Alvarez. The awards will be presented at the inaugural Complex Litigation Ethics Conference on Oct. 22, 2022, held at the UC Hastings College of the Law in association with the college’s Center for Litigation and Courts.

Program co-chairs Joshua P. Davis and Scott Dodson – both professors at UC Hastings – have assembled an exemplary faculty of leading jurists, litigators, and other subject matter experts.

“In developing this program we wanted not only to educate litigators and stimulate discussion on the important and evolving ethical aspects of this practice, but also to honor those who have demonstrated leadership, scholarship, and dedication in promoting ethical behavior and professionalism and to whom others look for inspiration,” said Davis.  “Judge Fletcher, Elizabeth Cabraser, and Fred Alvarez,” Dodson added, “are exactly the kinds of individuals and representatives of the profession we had in mind when we developed these awards.

More about the recipients of the Awards for Excellence in Ethics in Complex Litigation:

Honorable William Fletcher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge / Scholar / Other Recipient) – A respected jurist, scholar and teacher, Judge Fletcher was a professor at Berkeley Law for decades before his appointment to the federal bench. He is the co-author of an authoritative textbook on civil procedure which addresses complex litigation and class actions. Lauded for his wisdom and integrity, Judge Fletcher has demonstrated his respect for “the need to circumscribe the role of unelected judges in a democracy” and ensuring parties have the “practical capacity to protect their legal rights in court.” As he once explained in an interview, Judge Fletcher believes it is paramount that judges develop “a culture of decision making,” one in which they will, “to the extent of their ability and to the extent human nature will permit, state carefully, fully, and honestly the factual and legal bases for their decisions. I make no claim that American judges always live up to that ideal. We do not,” he said, “but we try.”

Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP (Plaintiffs’ Counsel Recipient) – Few attorneys can boast leadership positions and success in so many consequential complex legal disputes implicating so many industries and varieties of claims. Cabraser’s role in litigation against Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Auto, and others inspired Law360 to call her “a titan of the plaintiffs’ bar.” In their profile of Cabraser, Law360 wrote that defense attorneys see her as “a formidable opponent who comes to cases thoroughly prepared” and someone who can “win a judge’s ear.” Cabraser serves on the Executive Committee of the Counsel of the American Law Institute and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She regularly lectures on complex litigation at Berkeley and Columbia Law Schools, publishes scholarship on complex litigation, and presents and conducts seminars in various settings, including the Federal Judicial Center, ALI-ABA, and the National Center for State Courts. She was nominated, in part, because she has “broken new ground not only as a plaintiffs’ lawyer, but also as a professional overcoming the various impediments to success for diverse attorneys. She serves as a role model for diverse young lawyers to pursue justice through complex litigation.”

Fred W. Alvarez, Partner, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP (Defense Counsel Recipient) – Alvarez is one of the foremost employment attorneys in the country, known for his experience, public service, and leadership in the profession. Early in his career, Alvarez was a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, a commissioner on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Assistant Secretary of Labor. After serving in the government he moved into private practice defending employers against class actions. Alvarez, who has been recognized for his integrity and ethics before, has repeatedly been selected as a monitor or special master to oversee the implementation of employment and civil rights consent decrees and settlements. “This work is complex, typically spans several years, and requires the trust of the litigants and counsel,” his nomination read. “It matters that, once the active class action litigation is over, Mr. Alvarez commits his time to ensure that reforms negotiated as part of a class action settlement are faithfully implemented. In other words, it’s not just about the money. His work helps ensure that the promise of civil rights class action litigation can be realized.”

The Complex Litigation Ethics Conference is being co-sponsored by Huntington National Bank, a nationwide provider of settlement fund and other financial services for law firms. Professor Davis is both a research professor at UC Hastings and managing partner of the San Francisco offices of Berger Montague, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected class action and complex litigation law firms. Professor Scott Dodson is Founding Director of the Center for Litigation and Courts at UC Hastings Law. The awards are being presented by the Center for Litigation and Courts and Huntington National Bank.

Qualifying attorney attendees will be eligible to receive eight CLE credits (subject to state and local bar rules). Learn more and register at bit.ly/LitEthicsConf.

Members of the legal and business press are invited to request passes to attend the event in San Francisco or via webstream, and to receive program materials. Pre-program interviews with the conference leaders and faculty should be addressed to Tom Hagy, +1 (484) 844-0428, or Editor@LitigationConferences.com

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