"Conflicts of Interest in Multi-party Litigation" featured Judge Gerald B. Tjoflat of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit as keynote speaker. Panel discussions explored conflicts of interest in public defender offices, multi-district litigation and cause-lawyering.


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Friday, February 23rd
9:30 AM

Keynote Presentation

Gerald B. Tjoflat, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Jacksonville, FL

Classroom A, Hirsch Hall

9:30 AM - 10:25 AM

10:30 AM

Conflicts of Interest in Public Defender Offices

Russell C. Gabriel, University of Georgia School of Law
Margareth Etienne, University of Illinois College of Law
Pamela R. Metzger, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Judith P. Miller, University of Chicago Law School

Classroom A, Hirsch Hall

10:30 AM - 11:40 AM

Public defender offices serve a crucial public interest, but they are uniquely prone to a number of conflicts of interest. Clients indicted together may have adverse interests but few other options for defense counsel. Every state structures its public defender offices differently; in some states, public funding regulations may incentivize high client volume over quality counsel. The panelists have extensive experience in state and federal public defender offices and are also leading scholars on the unique conflicts those offices face.

1:00 PM

Conflicts of Interest in Multi-district Litigation

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, University of Georgia School of Law
Charles M. Silver, Center on Lawyers, Civil Justice, and the Media
Gerald B. Tjoflat, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Jacksonville, FL

Classroom A, Hirsch Hall

1:00 PM - 2:10 PM

While multi-district litigation promises plaintiffs and defendants flexibility in litigating and settling mass tort claims, it also presents conflicts of interest, some of which are familiar from the class action setting, and some of which are just being explored by scholars, litigants, and courts. This panel will discuss cutting-edge questions about the economic incentives posed by MDL practice and procedures. In
class actions, class counsel must act in the best interest of the class members as a whole, but in nonclass MDLs, lead attorneys’ ethical obligations to their individual clients may conflict with their fiduciary obligations to the plaintiffs as a whole. And lead attorneys have a strong economic incentive to encourage all claimants to agree to a settlement package. Settlements can provide substantial benefits to lead plaintiff
attorneys in the form of common-benefit fees, but only if enough plaintiffs opt-in to the settlement program to meet a defendant’s closure goals. The panel includes some of the leading MDL plaintiff attorneys in the country and the leading scholars on MDL procedures and incentives.

2:30 PM

Conflicts of Interest in Cause-Lawyering

Nathan S. Chapman, University of Georgia School of Law
Scott L. Cummings, UCLA School of Law
Eric Rassbach, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Gerry Weber, Southern Center for Human Rights

Classroom A, Hirsch Hall

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Cause-lawyering comes in many shapes and sizes. For all of them, there can be tension between the interests of a particular client and the lawyer’s public policy goals. This panel explores those tensions and how lawyers can best serve their clients while advancing legal change. The panelists include lawyers with extensive cause-lawyering experience in a variety of fields and the leading scholar of legal
ethics and cause-lawyering.