How to Deliver Compassionate Class Actions
The key to leading a successful class action lawsuit often rests with client communication. What are the most effective ways of conveying information between counsel and clients, and why is it important to be attentive when vetting claims? We hear from SW Employment Law founder Jacob Whitehead on how human understanding can help when litigating class actions.
Why do you feel that compassion is crucial when handling class action litigation?
Attorneys all too often fail to listen to their clients in order to fully understand them. Attorneys want to jump to the conclusion and dismiss the situation without fully understanding it. This happens a lot because those seeking legal advice often times have a sense that something illegal happened, but are poor at articulating it.
The job of a good, compassionate attorney is therefore to listen intently and then follow up with the questions that will shed further light on the situation, rather than hurrying the person through some scripted questionnaire without fully vetting the claims. The best class actions that we have been fortunate to pursue on behalf of our clients were those where we listened and found unique claims that we could bring on behalf of all those who were in a similar situation.
What measures do you take to ensure that clients’ issues are handled with kindness during these cases?
The kindest thing a law firm can do for its clients is to achieve results. We spend a lot of time creating and honing internal processes and procedures that will lead to best and fastest results for our clients. Many attorneys falsely believe their clients want their hands held, so to speak, and are “needy.” What those clients usually want, rather, is to know that their attorney is handling the case efficiently and competently towards their ends. When clients feel that their attorneys are not pushing the case along, conflicts arise. With that in mind, it is important to keep your clients informed of your progress and seek input when appropriate.
The kindest thing a law firm can do for its clients is to achieve results.
How do you ensure effective communication with the individuals you represent during a class action?
With our class actions, we use many modern forms of communication that allow for mass dissemination of information. For example, we host Zoom calls with hundreds of clients at a time to provide confidential case updates. We also regularly send emails and text messages to our clients which will include a video updating them on the progress of the case or particular issues. In addition, we routinely post across social media about our class actions.
When we keep our clients up to date on the case proactively, they are happier and our staff are not spending time away from working on the cases in order to speak with individual clients about the status of their case.
What advice would you offer to a relatively inexperienced lawyer who is interested in prosecuting class actions?
Find a good class action attorney and bring them on as co-counsel. In that way, the case is handled appropriately and the new attorney is able to learn how class actions are handled correctly. Judges routinely disqualify inexperienced attorneys from being class counsel, so having a good co-counsel would help in that regard as well.
Jacob Whitehead, Founding Partner
7700 Irvine Center, Drive Suite 930, Irvine, CA 92618
Tel: +1 888-492-0633
Jacob Whitehead is the founder and managing attorney of SW Employment Law, with extensive experience in single-plaintiff employment-related cases as well as class actions and PAGA representative actions with multiple plaintiffs. A fluent Spanish-speaker barred in both California and Washington DC, he routinely litigates complex cases representing hundreds of plaintiffs.
SW Employment Law is a California-based law firm specialising in all aspects of employment law, from class action lawsuits to individual wrongful termination, wage and hour violations, disability discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and whistleblower lawsuits. The firm has recovered tens of millions of dollars for California employees.