Tips on Navigating the MDL Process


Francesca Castagnola

June 25, 2021


Multidistrict litigation (MDL) has always been complex terrain, and the events of the past year and a half only made it more so. Stakeholders from each facet of the MDL process, from leadership committees, to the judiciary and third parties, are working to make the sector more diverse and inclusive within leadership committees and in developing settlement strategies.

To help practitioners and others better understand the MDL landscape, Western Alliance Bank produced an on-demand CLE-eligible webinar “MDL Leadership Appointments, Committees and Settlement Strategies: Tips and Advice to Help Navigate the MDL Process.” Featuring a panel of experts from all facets of the MDL process, moderated by dispute resolution and settlement consulting attorney Randi S. Ellis, the webinar provides a wealth of insights.

The panelists included:

  • The Honorable J. Michelle Childs, The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • Sarah R. London, Esq., Partner, Lieff Cabraser
  • Carmen S. Scott, Esq., Member, MotleyRice
  • A.J. de Bartolomeo, Esq., Shareholder, Tadler Law LLP
  • Brooke Hodge, Esq., Director at Postlethwaite & Netterville (P&N) Class Action and Mass Tort Administration Services
  • Marcy Spitz, Esq., Partner, MASSIVE, Lien Resolutions Services
  • Sondra R. Monroe, J.D., Vice President, Western Alliance Bank Settlement Services

Key takeaways:

Building Strong MDL Leadership Committees: The best MDL leadership committees are diverse, and include individuals of different genders, race, geographies and have varying backgrounds and experience among other factors. In MDLs, the judiciary creates a kind of super law firm including lawyers with differing, complementary backgrounds and experiences. These diverse committees cultivate a new generation of lawyers that will support MDLs in the future. The committees play a large role in developing relationships within the legal industry – not only with their fellow plaintiffs’ counsel but also to the defense bar.

Importance of Mapping Litigation at Onset of Case: Mapping out the litigation at the beginning of an MDL provides numerous benefits. Having a plan ensures that diverse members of leadership teams play active roles in the case, obtain the necessary experience for professional growth and allow the legal team to develop accountability metrics. Furthermore, a strategic map enables lawyers to anticipate potential challenges and enlist experts where needed to help execute the goals of the parties and the court.

Involvement of Third Parties: Utilizing third parties, particularly special masters, banking partners, lien resolution companies, and administrative consultants, can help ensure efficiency and organization through the MDL litigation. These experts help keep the case on track and can provide valuable assistance to judges who have many cases on their dockets. The earlier third parties are involved, the better they are positioned to offer their advice and expertise on the logistics of the case and settlement strategy.

What’s On the Horizon for MDL Leadership: Overall, with the guidance of the judiciary, the MDL leadership selection process has become more inclusive and diverse, but we can agree that more work is needed. Creating space for a more diverse judiciary, additional mentorship opportunities for young lawyers, and continued evaluation of best practices in selection of MDL leadership will assist in continued meaningful change.

To hear the full presentation, start the recording below and then register:


To receive MCLE credit, click here and enter the requested information. To download the handouts from this webinar, click here.

About Us

Settlement Services

Western Alliance Settlement Services, a national banking group within Western Alliance Bank, Member FDIC, specializes in banking for law firms, claims administrators and related businesses managing class action, mass tort and bankruptcy settlements nationwide. Relationship bankers bring clients years of experience and offer outstanding service to support all phases of the settlement process, from escrow to distribution, with a single point of contact. Settlement Services is part of Western Alliance Bancorporation, which has more than $70 billion in assets. Major accolades include being ranked as a top U.S. bank in 2023 by American Banker and Bank Director. With significant national capabilities, the Settlement Services Group delivers the reach, resources and deep industry knowledge that make a difference for customers.