A Monday article in the Wall Street Journal takes a look at the MDL process. The article noted that in MDL actions, plaintiff lawyers have to compete for the work:
For plaintiffs’ attorneys the streamlining can be brutal.
While hundreds of attorneys may be representing clients in the cases, judges typically pick only a handful to handle the day-to-day workload. The sidelined attorneys must pay the lead lawyers a fee and often say they feel shut out from key decisions.
"Lawyers fight, hog work, are overloaded and squeeze out others," said Joseph F. Rice, a South Carolina plaintiffs’ attorney who has been involved in cases filed by asbestos victims and families of victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Lawyers hogging work and squeezing out other lawyers is usually found on the defense side where lawyers are getting paid by the hour. Lawyers want to do some of the work, but other lawyers will not share. National counsel hogs work and squeezes out local counsel. The problem also happens within a firm if there is not enough work to go around. It was going on in Mississippi firms before the litigation boom in the late 90’s and has probably resumed in some firms.
In contrast, on the plaintiff side it is sometimes hard to get co-counsel to do any work. Some plaintiff lawyers will sit back and wait for co-counsel to do the work. If two lawyers with that work ethic are co-counsel, the case can grind to a complete halt.
There are some defense lawyers who have the reputation that they will work up a case, but will not try it unless they believe that it is a slam-dunk.
There are some plaintiff lawyers who have the reputation that they will not work up a case. If the case ever gets to trial, they will usually lose due to the lack of preparation.
The best lawyers on both sides work very hard to prepare their cases and are not afraid to lose at trial.
But the MDL appears to turn the plaintiff lawyers into defense lawyers, where they have to compete for work. Pretty funny if you ask me.