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by Vault Law Editors | February 20, 2024


Products liability lawyers represent companies or individuals in lawsuits arising out of alleged defects in consumer products that cause injuries to the public, generally in class action lawsuits. Because products liability cases involve many parties, jurisdictions, and claims, they are complex and often long-lasting cases. In large law firms, products liability attorneys most often represent the companies being sued by a group, or class, of plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ attorneys generally operate out of smaller firms and often take cases on contingency basis, meaning the attorneys do not earn any fees unless they reach a settlement or a victory in court. Products liability cases often involve very large and long discovery processes.

In our Products Liability Q&As, attorneys from law firms with top-ranked Products Liability practices share insights about their practice, including what a typical day is like and what training they recommend for interested jobseekers. Keep reading for their insights!

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Amy Laurendeau, Partner—O'Melveny: One of the great things about my practice is that there is no "typical" day. I get to do so many different things for different clients. Some days, my calendar is filled with calls. Other days, I try to catch up on emails (a never-ending battle). I spend a good deal of time revising briefs, advising clients on strategy, working with experts, preparing witnesses to testify, taking depositions, and going to court.... I handle trials and appeals. I negotiate settlements. My day can be very different depending on my case load and client needs.

Hayden Coleman, Partner—Dechert: There are certain constants in my days, like meeting and phone calls with clients and colleagues about ongoing events in our cases. But my days vary significantly based on the phase of the case that I'm working on. For new cases, I spend a lot of time researching the governing law and underlying facts in order to develop a strategy for how best to defend the case. Later in the case, I generally work with my discovery and expert teams, often in preparation for summary judgment and Daubert motions. This generally involves a lot of travel to take and defend depositions and meet with experts. Once summary judgment motions are written and filed, my focus shifts to argument preparation. If we are successful, the case is dismissed, and there generally will be an appeal. Otherwise, my focus shifts to potential settlement discussions and/or trial preparation.

Caroline Power, Associate—DechertOne thing I love about my job is that no day is typical. We handle cases at every stage of litigation, so my day could involve working closely with the client to learn more about a product, drafting briefs, conferring with opposing counsel about discovery disputes, collaborating with expert witnesses, conducting depositions, or preparing exhibits and exams for trial. I also take time to shadow and learn from more-senior lawyers and to mentor younger associates.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Amy Laurendeau: Torts, civil procedure, evidence, jurisdiction, complex litigation, trial advocacy, and writing classes are fundamental to a product liability practice. Understanding principles, thinking critically about issues, and developing experience in these subjects will provide the building blocks to become a successful product liability litigator.

Hayden Coleman: As a starting point, I recommend taking a product liability class. I would also recommend building a strong foundation in complex civil procedure and federal courts. An understanding of class actions and multi-district litigations is particularly important.

Caroline Power: While scientific training is not necessary, a basic understanding of anatomy, chemistry, and statistics will help you quickly learn the science in a given case. I would also suggest an e-discovery course and as much public speaking practice as you can get.