Background - Practices (Details)

National Coordinating Counsel & Complex Litigation


Our National Coordinating Counsel practice is nearly three decades old and one of the core litigation practices of the firm. It combines the skill sets of multiple practice areas and disciplines across the firm and integrates our litigation and trial strengths with the unique management skills required to effectively coordinate broad-based national litigation. We have served as NCC in some of the highest-profile matters in the U.S. court system and represented some of our largest clients, including Actavis, AT&T, Bridgestone/Firestone, Caterpillar, CSX, DuPont, UTC, among others, in a coordinating counsel capacity.

Our NCC practice applies strategic, trial, appellate, and management proficiency to complex litigation and large-scale mass tort litigation. We recognize that there is no such thing as a generic, one-size-fits-all national coordination representation. We build each of our representations around the specific strategic and management challenges facing our clients. For some types of litigation, we have served as "full service" NCC supported by purely local counsel, while in others we have forged true partnerships with jurisdictional counsel—focusing largely on big-picture, strategic issues—and have developed many models in between. We develop a recommended NCC structure in consultation with our clients, based upon an upfront strategic assessment, the unique needs of the litigation, existing in-house and outside counsel resources and relationships, and our clients' present and long-term objectives. Our ability to analyze the unique strategic and management needs of each client and litigation, and to tailor our representation to those needs, is an overriding strength of our practice.

We recognize that, for every client, cost efficiency must be part of any long-term strategy. We work with each client to determine the appropriate balance between risk and cost and to develop a management structure to achieve such balance. This may include strategic use of contract lawyers, application of cutting-edge technology, and use of value-based fee arrangements—collectively applied to ensure that overall spend is calibrated with our client's objectives for the litigation.

Our NCC practice is built upon deep experience in seven key areas, the mix of which is tailored to the needs of each potential engagement. While this list identifies key components of our NCC practice, we also provide a host of complimentary services, including: the development, administration and management of claims processes; e-discovery and information management; and attorney-led internal investigations into causation.

Trial Depth 

At its core, Crowell & Moring is a trial firm, with a deep bench of accomplished trial lawyers. In many of our NCC representations, our trial lawyers serve as lead counsel in cases pending around the country. In other representations, our trial lawyers develop trial strategy, identify and prepare key fact and expert witnesses, and serve as lead counsel in certain trials, while developing and overseeing jurisdictional firms to implement our clients' national trial strategy. Our role is highly dependent on the needs of the litigation, cost-effective and efficient allocation of roles and responsibilities, and the existing external and internal resources of our clients. 

Lead Class or MDL Counsel 

We often serve as lead counsel in national class actions and multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings. We have an extensive class action practice and regularly appear in MDL proceedings that are core components of national dockets. Our lawyers are involved in Advisory Committee efforts to reform Rule 23 and frequently lecture on class action developments.

Management of Legal Issues/Appellate Experience 

Large-scale national dockets require careful coordination of cross-cutting legal issues central to national litigation. This involves ensuring the quality and consistency of briefing at the trial court level, marshaling key precedents from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and implementing a well-coordinated appellate strategy. We have substantial party and amicus appellate experience within our NCC team, and we have developed important precedents in each of our NCC representations. 

Coordination and Preparation of Experts

The Firm's national coordination and mass tort work regularly involves complex, cutting-edge issues in science, technology and engineering that often dictate the outcome of the litigation. We track developments in the scientific literature and the standard-setting bodies and work with our worldwide network of top experts to present data-driven theories grounded in the best scientific and industry expertise as well as commercial and business realities. We are also active in developing appellate law on key issues. We identify strategic needs for new expertise as plaintiffs modify their theories and cases. We seek out novel ways to present the fact-based and data-driven defenses to end cases early. In all of our cases, we strive to match the best testifying experts with the geography and specific case needs and ensure the presentation is geared to the judges and lay jurors we encounter.

Cost-Effective Management of the Unique Challenges of National Litigation

Coordination of complex litigation requires a unique set of management skills, including: (1) developing  a structure for appropriate resource allocation between and among firms; (2) working with our clients to develop networks of law firms or to supplement existing networks to ensure efficient allocation of responsibility between NCC and jurisdictional counsel; (3) applying rigorous project management procedures to ensure efficiency on complex projects integral to the litigation; (4) integrating use of technology (including client extranets, communications tools, online document review, and file management) in all phases of the defense effort; and (5) applying cost-management strategies, including tracking methodologies for staffing and cost performance, use of alternative fee arrangements and, in certain representations, accountability for total spend and meeting annual budget goals. 

Regulatory Depth and Breadth

With more than 100 lawyers who have held significant government positions both federally and at the state level, we have unique perspective and first-hand knowledge of how regulatory agencies work and how they think. Many large, national litigations have significant related regulatory issues that must be carefully coordinated with litigation objectives. We know and understand both the regulatory expectations and the business imperatives that drive the decisions that can become the focus of motions practice and discovery in related litigation. Our understanding of when and how regulatory decisions can impact both procedural and trial strategies allows us to provide a more comprehensive approach to problems with both litigation and regulatory dimensions. 

Media Relations, Public Affairs, and Crisis Management

We help clients develop a sophisticated public relations strategy to counteract the media activity of plaintiffs' counsel and to ensure that our clients' stories are heard and understood. We work closely with media firms to safeguard against potential conflicts between external initiatives and our clients' litigation goals. When unforeseen crises arise, we can rapidly assemble and deploy teams of crisis management professionals to help avert negative publicity and take appropriate action to identify and resolve issues. 

Click here for a list of representative engagements.