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Complex Litigation Preparation and Management: Law Firm Trial Lawyers Advise In-House Counsel, Contributed by Frederick L. McKnight, David J. DiMeglio and Geoffrey P. Forgione, Jones Day

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Introduction

Increasingly complex national and international litigation has inundated the dockets of state and federal judges, who along with in-house lawyers for the corporate defendants, have been striving to keep up with the flood. In many ways, complex litigation comes in so many different varieties (multi-jurisdictional, mass action, class action, bet-the-company, international dimensions, etc.) that it defies concise definition. One may even employ Justice Potter Stewart's celebrated yardstick from his concurrence in Jacobellis v. Ohio1 ("I know it when I see it."). State and federal rules define complex litigation in their own ways. For its part, the California Rules of Court offers this definition: "[a] 'complex case' is an action that requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel."2 This article is offered from the perspective of defense counsel, experienced in handling complex civil litigation, for the benefit of the in-house corporate counsel charged with building and implementing a litigation strategy, in conjunction with outside counsel, to defend the company against complex claims, filed in different courts and jurisdictions, by sophisticated, well-heeled, aggressive, and highly coordinated plaintiffs' lawyers. In essence, we hope to help guide in-house counsel as to the tools and philosophies appropriate to reduce the risks and to manage the costs of complex civil litigation. Those dual goals

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