Monday, January 14, 2008
I posted my new paper -- CAFA's Impact on Class Action Lawyers -- on SSRN. The article examines data on forum selection and claim selection in the wake of the Class Action Fairness Act, in an effort to understand the statute's impact on the legal profession. Post-CAFA forum selection in class actions focuses less on particular counties in state court and more on federal courts within circuits with relatively favorable law on class certification. Post-CAFA claim selection has shifted away from personal injury torts and toward contract, fraud, and federal question claims. Taken together, these adaptations by plaintiffs' lawyers appear likely to benefit the dominant class action law firms. Along the way, the article looks at CAFA in the context of other recent class action reforms, and especially as a reflection of popular and political mistrust of class action plaintiffs' lawyers. Here's the abstract:
The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) reflected a profound mistrust of class action lawyers. Three years after its enactment, examination of lawyers' adaptation strategies offers an emerging picture of the statute's impact on class actions and class action lawyers. CAFA, like the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act a decade earlier, shifted class action practice in ways that appear likely to strengthen the upper tier of the plaintiff class action bar. CAFA has affected not only the division of labor between state and federal court, but also horizontal forum selection among federal courts and class action claim selection. Analysis of these effects suggests that CAFA is achieving some of its stated objectives but is unlikely to squelch class actions or to disempower leading members of the class action bar.