James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Center

The center conducts studies and issues guidelines and best practices, which improve the administration of justice in complex litigation. These projects support or follow up on the bench-bar conferences.

Diversity and Excellence: Guidelines and Best Practices for Judges Appointing Lawyers to Leadership Positions in MDL and Class Action Litigation. (Full Report) (3-Page Summary Report and Signatories List)  The center plans to issue the Inclusivity and Diversity Guidelines and Best Practices on March 15, pending final approval. They offer concrete suggestions for giving lawyers across the profession an equal opportunity to be appointed to MDL and class action leadership positions.  A draft for comment was circulated to all 150 federal judges handling and MDL. More than 35 judges commented, virtually all favorable, often suggesting changes that improved the final versions.

More than 85 law firms, five major bar organizations, and five companies support the Inclusivity and Diversity Guidelines and Best Practices as "Founding Signatories." The center will be accepting new signatories for the next 12 months.  All signatories registering before March 15, 2021, will be recognized as a "Founding Signatory." Please send your request to be included as a "Signatory" to John Rabiej at [email protected].

Assessing Proportionate Benefit and Cost ESI Model: The center has embarked on a project to develop a discovery-proportionality benefit-and-burden assessment model that provides a practical means of assessing claims of proportionality by plaintiff and defense counsel. The model creates a new analytical framework that classifies custodians and their respective data sources in four broad categories by priority and discovery costs. Custodians with the highest priority at the lowest discovery cost are quickly identified. Under the framework, a table of projected discovery costs for every custodian and every data source is developed to refine proportionality assessments. The model is intended to provide a structured methodology, which enhances a party’s proportionality assessments, facilitates discovery negotiations with the opposing party, and better informs judicial resolution of discovery disputes. The model does not determine proportionality, which can be made only after considering all six Rule 26(b) factors. The model will be issued for public comment for a period of six weeks and a bench-bar, online conference will be held on March 25-26 to examine it. Please check back frequently for updated information. Here are links to a list of the drafting-team members and a working draft of the model (Unit Cost Chart) (Cost Projection Unit Cost) (Cost Projection Data Source), which contains an illustrated table of costs and heat map.

Class-Action Best Practices: Following its inaugural November 2020 class-action annual-review conference, the center formed three teams of 35 volunteer lawyers to draft best practices addressing six issues identified at the conference.  The best practices will be the first installment in a new compendium of class-action best practices, prepared under the center’s auspices.  Additional compendium installments will be added following every annual class action conference.