‘Top echelon’ MDL faculty among highlights of 2021 Mass Tort MDL certificate program

Dec 17, 2021Latest News

Bolch Judicial Institute | Duke Law School

The Bolch Judicial Institute hosted Duke Law’s third annual Mass Tort MDL Certificate course in November, welcoming its most diverse group of attendees to date: 53 students representing 13 states, from Alabama to Wyoming, including two judges, the first international participant, the first paralegal participant, and five full-tuition scholarship recipients. While a few of the participating attorneys recently joined the legal profession, most were established practitioners with an average of seven MDLs and 15 years of experience.

The course received high remarks for the quality and content of the panels, the instructors’ willingness to speak candidly about their own work, and current developments in mass tort litigation. In a follow-up survey, several participants commented that the faculty are what set the course apart from other programs.

“Very rarely have I seen this many of the top echelon of the MDL practice in one program,” one participant noted. Another attendee wrote, “A great event — I especially enjoyed counsel discussing particular cases.”

The program was established in 2019 by the late Duke Law Professor Francis McGovern with the goal of diversifying and expanding the field of attorneys practicing in mass tort and multidistrict litigation. The program now honors Professor McGovern’s legacy and is imbued with his spirit of creativity, excellence, and intellectual rigor.

“Most of the mass tort and MDL cases in this country have historically been handled by a small group of highly distinguished and experienced attorneys, who, like Francis, have mastered the intricacies of these complex cases,” said David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. “But mass tort and MDL cases now comprise half of the federal caseload, and it’s clear the pool of lawyers and judges who can handle these cases needs to grow. This program is preparing a new generation of lawyers for work in MDL and provides a chance for these top lawyers to share their experiences, develop best practices, and work together to advance the field.”

The 2021 program featured 35 esteemed faculty who volunteered their time and expertise on nine different panel discussions and two breakout sessions, including 26 of the nation’s leading plaintiffs and defense attorneys and nine judges.

“It is a privilege to work with such distinguished judges and lawyers in developing the MDL certificate program,” said Jessica Waddle, the 2021 McGovern Fellow at the Bolch Judicial Institute. Waddle directed this year’s certificate program with the assistance of Lora Farmer, program coordinator at the Institute. “We are deeply grateful that these practitioners take time to share their expertise and guidance. The caliber of our faculty and the opportunities our students have to ask questions and engage with these experts really set this program apart.”

Participants who have attended any of Duke Law’s Mass Tort MDL Certificate courses are eligible to attend the Advanced Certificate Course and McGovern Symposium to be held in person at Duke University May 26-27, 2022. To receive updates on this and other complex litigation programs hosted by the Bolch Judicial Institute, please subscribe here.


Thank you to our 2021 sponsors!

Chris Seeger, Seeger Weiss LLP
David Bernick, partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

David F. Levi
Keller Lenkner LLC
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Milestone Consulting, LLC

Western Alliance Bank