Cause Lawyers and Class Actions: Principles, Pitfalls, and Community Lawyering for Classes

AuthorAdrienne Lipsey
Adrien ne Lipsey
Abstract: Class actions are an exciting tool for cause lawyers
— lawyers who choose their cases to champion particular
ideals and goals. The excitement sur rounding class actions
stems from their potential to create broad-based change, and
to augment access to justice for unempowered people whose
cases would other wise go unlitigated. This enthusi asm should,
however, be tempered by the lessons and principles of cause
lawyering l iterature, which is concerned with avoiding power
imbalances and disconnect between law yers and clients.
Cause lawyer ing literature has produced good and useful
principles to guide law yers in their interact ion with individ-
ual clients. When the se principles — autonomy, collaboration,
the importance of personal relationships, and commun-
ity involvement — are transposed to the class setting, some
troubling issues arise. The structure of class proceedings
makes it diff‌icult to apply these principles at each stage of
class proceedings, from the pre-certif‌icat ion stage through to
settlement. When cause law yers become class counsel they
risk becoming disconnected from their ser vice community.
The issues of power imbala nce, meaningful representation,
and instrumentalizing community members come to the
forefront once more.
Cause lawyer s should be cogni zant of these potential pit-
falls, and may con sider alternative approaches to the manage-
ment of class actions in order to ref‌lect t he principles in cause
lawyering l iterature. These approaches may include tactics
332 The Cana dian Cl ass Action Rev iew
to involve more community members, or even community
groups in steering lit igation, or leveraging the alternative dis -
pute resolution powers of class proceedings.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT