In today’s installment of The Hearing, a Legal Podcast, an award-nominated podcast conducted by Thomson Reuters U.K., we feature a conversation between Ron Levine, General Counsel at Herrick Feinstein, and host Joseph Raczynski, of Thomson Reuters, about the history of consumer activist litigation and how that’s changed today.
The essence of what the legal system is designed to do in our society is to seek justice for those who have been harmed or protect those in need. Over time, however, these ideals have been bent, even twisted, leaving us with a Frankenstein-like embodiment of these protections under the law. One could argue that some class action lawsuits in the United States are a form of that monster.
In our podcast, we shine a light on a different era of consumer activist litigation and uncover some truths in litigation before setting our sights on the future. As with all that is good and all that often goes awry, we begin the conversation around the ideal — Ralph Nadar, the epitome of the consumer advocate, and a household name since the mid-1960s. Nader used the law to fight for people in dozens of causes, including most famously, helping get seatbelt use mandated in cars.
Now, compared to that bygone era, something in the litigation space has changed. Our guest, Ron Levine, knows that not all class action cases are frivolously or pure nonsensical rubbish; but unfortunately, these types of cases have become more commonplace today.
You can listen to the full podcast with Ron Levine here.
Levine, a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, speaks as a thoughtful realist and a practitioner of what he preaches. He bears witness as a litigator of some 40 years, discussing the fascinating dealings of what happens behind the scenes in class action suit, attesting to a lack of transparency, and describing what he would do to improve the system.
He also dives into the importance of technology, especially in the eDiscovery space, as a crusader for others in the field, and stresses the importance of tools, AI, and being smart about the use of email. He also discusses what the future of litigation might look like with prediction modeling and big data in common use.
The podcast also touches on non-attorney ownership of law firms, which has become a hot topic in Utah and Arizona with those states launching pilot programs that allow for non-attorneys to have a new role in the business. Levine has advocated for that development. Lastly, Levine also highlights the “five stages of grief” as an important concept to be addressed with every client, especially as they move through difficult litigation.