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Featured Guests
Christopher L. Dore

Christopher L. Dore is a Partner at Edelson PC where he oversees the firm’s investigative and case development team....

Aaron Lawson

Aaron Lawson is a member of Edelson PC’s Issues & Appeals Group. Aaron regularly litigates complex issues in both...

Sydney Janzen

Sydney Janzen is an Associate at Edelson PC, where her practice focuses on consumer protection and privacy-related class actions....

Your Hosts
Joe Patrice

Joe Patrice is an Editor at Above the Law. For over a decade, he practiced as a litigator at...

Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is the Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline and the Editor-At-Large of Breaking Media. He’s appeared...

Episode Notes

When it comes to litigation, law schools generally funnel students into larger, defense-oriented firms. These firms offer steady paychecks — all the better to pay your monthly debt bill, my dear — and a tried and true path. But there is another side to the “v” and it often involves better opportunities and more rewarding work. Joe and Elie chat with Edelson PC about the tech-oriented plaintiff and class action firm’s work from protecting biometric privacy rights to addressing sexual misconduct in youth sports with partner Chris Dore and associates Aaron Lawson and Sydney Janzen.

Special thanks to our sponsor, Logikcull.

Transcript

Above the Law – Thinking Like a Lawyer

Life On The Other Side Of The V

01/21/2020

 

[Music]

 

Intro: Welcome to Thinking Like a Lawyer with your hosts Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, talking about legal news and pop culture all while thinking like a lawyer, here on Legal Talk Network.

 

[Music]

 

Joe Patrice: Hello and welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer. I’m Joe Patrice from Above the Law. I am joined by Elie Mystal, who is not from Above the Law. How are you?

 

Elie Mystal: Let’s go Mets. We did the right thing.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Elie Mystal: We got rid of our cheating manager before he managed the game.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Elie Mystal: I’m so happy.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah, well, as I said not formerly of Above the Law but still with us, Elie Mystal.

 

Elie Mystal: Oh yeah, we wanted talk about that.

 

Joe Patrice: Well, I figured you should at least make the announcement about like what you’re doing, I think listeners would care.

 

Elie Mystal: I am, I have formally left Above the Law full time, I am now the Justice Correspondent at The Nation, which is great for me. But as I said to my departure memo, can’t actually leave Above the Law, so I will still be doing this podcast because I love you guys so much.

 

And honestly like who else would let me do a podcast where I get to talk to lawyers all the time.

 

Joe Patrice: Right, right there we go. So what is your complaint of the day?

 

Elie Mystal: And who will let me get to do a podcast where we start every week with me complaining about something. This week I have a lot of complaints coming out from over the holiday.

 

So as regular listeners might know, I’ve been having some problems with my house. It is generally erupting in a spates of home improvement nightmare problems that will require hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years, most likely.

 

In any event, some of that money should be taken care of by insurance and this begins my problem. Here’s a little fun scientific fact for you listeners. Do you know why humans have no hair?

 

Because you know all the other great apes are hairless, we’re the hairless ape you know why? It’s because we are persistence hunters. What that means is that the way that we would hunt down our prey was basically run after it until it got so exhausted, it overheated and then we would stab it with a pointy thing, right.

 

It’s called persistence hunting, it’s how wild dogs hunts, it’s how humans hunt and we lost our hair because the ability for humans to sweat to basically dissipate heat through our skin made us quite frankly the most effective persistence hunters most likely the world has ever seen; although, I’m not counting the dinosaurs.

 

Joe Patrice: Okay.

 

Elie Mystal: This, so it was an evolutionary advantage to be persistence hunters and it is this evolutionary advantage that modern insurance companies have figured out how to use. They are persistence hunters for people with claims. So you have a claim, you’re supposed to get money from your insurance which you pay for and they persistence you to death or at least they require you to persistence them to death if –

 

Joe Patrice: Right, I think that’s probably more, yeah.

 

Elie Mystal: Spin on it right. They are exhausting. It’s always another department you have to call, another person you have to get in touch with, another word and they know what they’re doing, so that one department says you can’t follow the claim unless you talk to the other department first, you call the other department, the very next thing they say is that they can’t file the claim until you talk to the first department first and they act like — they act like they’re not sitting in the same goddamn room.

 

Joe Patrice: Right, right.

 

Elie Mystal: And so, we’re 40 year old homeowners, this ain’t our first rodeo. So when we call, we are taking down information, we’re taking down oh, whom am I talking to, what’s your extension, like we’re taking down all of that information so that we can transmit it to the next call that we have to make and this doesn’t matter for these home improvement nightmares.

 

They keep running us through, not only to different departments but then different like home improvement assessors that needs to come out and be scheduled and whatever to come, and then the assessors come and they say well, I can’t assess until I get authorization from Department X and it’s all designed, it’s all designed so that you give up and stop trying to get your money out of the insurance company.

 

It is a scam. It has a plan. The amount of times in the past two weeks I have had to threaten somebody with litigation just to get them to answer my call truthfully, to the point where and my wife and I do very good, good cop back up on this, where my wife is the good cop and she calls that she stays on hold and she’s very nice and then as they give her the runaround which we know that she’s going to get, I basically start screaming off-camera and getting louder and louder and louder as they get to the phone.

 

And then I finally grab the phone and whoever she’s talking to like what is your name and there was sir, why do you need to know, like I need to know who to name in my complaint. That’s why I need your name.

 

(00:05:02)

 

And that would you have to threaten litigation against some of these people to even get them to tell you the right form to fill out. It is persistence hunting, it is ridiculous, I hate the entire insurance industry so very much and the only like political segue I’ll have for that is like do not come to me with your sob stories about how Medicare for All is too expensive, like just, I do not want to hear that no mo.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah, once you actually deal with an insurance company, you lose a lot of your —

 

Elie Mystal: No.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Elie Mystal: Because I’m just trying to get my house fixed, not my heart.

 

Joe Patrice: Right.

 

Elie Mystal: I mean God forbid I had a medical problem and was dealing with this, I wouldn’t be able to play bad cop because my heart would be too weak to take it.

 

Joe Patrice: No. Though that’s — now that’s, that’s fair. I’m sorry you’re working with insurance companies, they are bad, there was a former, I won’t name who Southern District of New York Federal Judge who privately informed his clerks every year when they came in that it’s important for you to understand that in this courtroom the insurance company is always wrong.

 

And I don’t necessarily think that was a bad prejudgment or a bias situation. I think that was probably just born out of years of experience.

 

Elie Mystal: Which is accurate.

 

Joe Patrice: Anyway. Well, we have some people to thank. So we’ll begin with today’s episode is brought to you by your adorable pony, who’s very mad at you and thinking of jumping the fence all because you’re still at the office slogging through an endless doc review project, make better decisions, keep your pet and work smarter with Logikcull, e-discovery software that gets you started in minutes. Rein in your e-discovery challenges, create a free account today at logikcull.com/atl. That’s logikcull.com/atl.

 

Elie Mystal: Well, I was thinking what the ponies do? Do they eat carrots, this is going to be a Salt Lick.

 

Joe Patrice: See, this is what’s fun about these ads is now you actually think because you know the format, you, once you hear the animal, you’re like trying to work out.

 

Elie Mystal: Yeah.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah, what I’m going to do next.

 

Elie Mystal: Right, that’s fun for the listeners.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah. I mean I don’t know, but it’s fun for me and frankly that’s really all I care about at this point.

 

So with all that said, let’s begin our show. So we’re joined by some guests today from Edelson PC, I want to bring them in and talk about some of the work that they’ve been doing there.

 

So I’ll just introduce everybody first and then start asking some questions. So we’re joined by Chris Dore from Edelson as well as Aaron Lawson and Sydney Janzen. How’s everybody doing today?

 

Christopher L. Dore: Hey guys.

 

Aaron Lawson: Doing good.

 

Sydney Janzen: Thanks for having us.

 

Joe Patrice: Great well –

 

Elie Mystal: You guys do plaintiffs work. Can I have you help me sue my insurance company?

 

Christopher L. Dore: We would love to, sure.

 

Aaron Lawson: Talk to us after the show.

 

Joe Patrice: Fair enough. So well, so Chris, let’s talk a little bit about the firm, longtime listeners of the show, I mean we’ve had Jay on here before, so long-term listeners have heard a little bit about the firm before probably, but just in case, well it’s — let’s assume we’ve gotten some new listeners in the last several years.

 

So talk to us a little bit about the work that Edelson does in particular? I mean Elie is already kind of foregrounded that there’s some plaintiff work there, but talk a little bit more about that?

 

Christopher L. Dore: Sure. Yeah, the primary work we do is plaintiffs work in the class and mass action space as well as representing a variety of different government regulators. We, I think established ourselves in the industry focusing on privacy and technology, but have significantly expanded our practice over the years.

 

As our firm has grown, our practice has grown and we do everything from representing families that were impacted by the campfire in California to representing former NCAA football players that are dealing with the long-term effects of concussions as well as continuing to work in the privacy and technology space and kind of push the boundaries there.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve attempted to do in my work and I don’t know how well I’ve done it, but there’s — for political point-scoring there are people who always bash plaintiffs and mass action lawyers. But I always try to use different terms than trial lawyer or plaintiff’s lawyer.

 

As much as I can, I try to talk about public interest lawyer or something like that, because in a very real sense, a lot of the claims that you’re bringing are more about advancing public rights that just wouldn’t have any other — there wouldn’t be any other way for them to be redressed other than the kind of work that you do.

 

Christopher L. Dore: I think that’s absolutely right. We view ourselves as pursuing what a government regulator might do, if it had more time and more resources available to it and the system is set up to incentivize us through the contingent fee system to be able to pursue that, and bring cases on behalf of people that otherwise would never be able to pay for it or would choose to pay for it.

 

(00:10:07)

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah. I mean there’s that famous Posner quote about the alternative to these sorts of class actions would not be a million little suits, it would be zero suits, that just no one would actually do it.

 

Christopher L. Dore: That’s exactly right, yeah.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Elie Mystal: And I think the point that you’re making about how the system is set up this way is also an important one that people forget like that that the way that we design certain laws and certain regulations, they are reliance on the class action to point out problems, to point out weaknesses, to point out issues within the system. The system does not have any other — I shouldn’t say any other, the system has very few other ways to actually address long-term structural problems in our either regulatory structure or general statutory structure without the class action.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Christopher L. Dore: That’s right, yeah.

 

Joe Patrice: So I want to ask — so we’ve written about you in the past and one of the stories that I’ve — most recent stories that I’ve written about the firm that I wanted to talk a little bit more about is, I wrote up a rap video that you all put out, which was great, but it was more than just this rap video, it was part of a broader strategic turn for you all which is the creation of this Edelson creative work and the podcast, the non-compliant podcast.

 

So what’s going on with the Edelson Creative side?

 

Aaron Lawson: You know we for years and years have had creative interests that that we have pursued primarily internally. We like to think of ourselves as creative lawyers and the work that we do and the way that we approach things is different and unusual, and we like to come at things from first principles and we apply that to just how our firm functions in the social aspects of it as well and we want to find new outlets for it.

 

Some of it’s purely to entertain ourselves internally and have fun at our holiday parties and things like that and some of it is a way to kind of convey messaging to the world around us about how we view things and how we see ourselves in that space.

 

And so some of it is comedic, some of it’s musical and then the podcast like you said non-compliant, which we have a couple of episodes already out and a couple more that we’re recording. We think it’s a really fun platform. Jay is hosting it and there’s a lot of really interesting conversations going on. Some of them are very legal and some of them you’ll see are not so legal and our dressing more societal questions and interesting topics like that.

 

And so we’re having a lot of fun developing that and finding new guests to kind of bounce around interesting ideas with us.

 

Elie Mystal: So confession time. When I was in law school I continued my performance career. I did the law school parody, all three years that I was in it that I was in school, I was a writer for the show. I kept my performative aspect up. And one of the ways that I justified it so my mother who couldn’t understand why I was still literally acting in plays as opposed to I don’t know, trying to get on law review.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean that was a valid question.

 

Elie Mystal: For instance, she was wrong to ask me, like my mom is a smart lady. Well, one way that I justified is that well, I’ve sought — one of the reasons why I was interested in law was the performative aspect of it, right, and I’m one of those kids that did mock trial in high school and although I didn’t do moot court in law school, I knew a lot of kids did.

 

There is I think the law attracts as opposed to medicine for instance, the law attracts people who do kind of disproportionately want to perform, want to get up and be even for a moment the center of attention and yet the practice of law for so many people so often is kind of solitary, it’s a very quiet profession. You spend a lot of time in documents, in notes, in books, in research, and comparatively very little time kind of performing your trade in perhaps the way you thought you were going to when you were in college or law school.

 

So with your Edelson Creative Program, do you find that what you’re doing is giving an outlet for people who kind of thought they were going to be more kind of on stage or center stage or do you also find that as plaintiffs’ attorneys or however we want to call it, that some of these creative aspects really are helpful for people who at some point will have to be in front of a jury or at least in front of a judge.

 

Christopher L. Dore: That’s an interesting approach. I don’t think we –

 

Elie Mystal: I feel deeper than intended.

 

Christopher L. Dore: And it’s hard. We’re looking to entertain ourselves and to have fun and to change up the atmosphere. Everything that we try to do in the operation of a law firm is to try and make us not like most law firms out there and provide opportunities, legal and non-legal for people to explore that.

 

(00:15:02)

 

So, in some cases yes. My partner Ari Scharg, who is, who appears in that rap video and wrote it had a career that never launched and it launched here, he is incredibly talented and has a lot of fun putting that stuff together.

 

I love movies. I love TV and so I’ve done some of the acting myself and directed most of the work that we’ve done and done a lot of — worked with our cinematographer. And that for me is a great, great outlet. It’s something that I enjoyed doing and to be able to do it at work and to incorporate other folks that we work with and have a lot of fun with it.

 

Our fall is often wrapped up with brainstorming and having fun, thinking about this and filming this kind of stuff and as I said, mostly it’s been for internal use, but some of it we’ve shared and we think people enjoy it.

 

And so I don’t think this is training to put people in front of court, I think this is more about who we are and just the culture that we build and having fun together and being friends frankly. You know that’s the type of firm we have.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah. Well and it’s a culture era, let’s see how this works as a transition, all right. See how this is. So that’s a culture that actually seems though you somewhat share, you do a lot of tech work, you share that with a Silicon Valley style culture of having a little bit of fun along with the work and one Silicon Valley sort of organization would be Facebook. See so now that’s going to be my transition.

 

So –

 

Aaron Lawson: This is a pretty good transition.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah. I mean as transitions go. I mean this was tough. I feel like all right. So Aaron, talk to us a little bit about the work you’ve been doing. You’ve been working with Facebook, I guess maybe not with shouldn’t be the right word, but tell us about privacy and Facebook.

 

Aaron Lawson: Wow. Oh that’s a — it’s a huge subject. So –

 

Joe Patrice: Or at least your corner of it, maybe yeah.

 

Aaron Lawson: Yeah. So I think though that this is a good transition because the Facebook case really — I think kind of is a very good exemplar of some of the sort of Silicon Valley things that we pride ourselves on both having the tech expertise and thinking about these problems in kind of a different way, but also relying on younger lawyers and people who might have different and new ideas.

 

I mean out here in San Francisco we call them disruptors, but people with different ideas about how things should be done and the case began six years ago when somebody who was then an associate found this Illinois law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act, that really hadn’t been litigated much if at all, kind of kept that into that pocket, but because he also had some tech expertise he was able to kind of look at what Facebook was doing with photos and noticed hey, you know this law seems to apply to what Facebook is doing and as an associate proposed this lawsuit which is now kind of a big deal.

 

And so –

 

Elie Mystal: Just a bit.

 

Aaron Lawson: Yeah. And so my piece of it, which is five or six years later right when I’m arguing Rule 23(f) Appeal is — this also I think is a culmination of the same kind of thinking.

 

So if I could switch to a different case right, we had Spokeo up in Supreme Court four or five years ago and at that point, we’re in the Supreme Court, oh my gosh, this is such a big deal. Spokeo, right, we have these privacy cases and you’re often met with skepticism from judgments. We’re like what is really going on here and why do you care.

 

And so Spokeo I think a lot of people in our section of the plaintiffs bar we all sort of collectively held our breath when Spokeo went up the Supreme Court. So we associated with someone who knew what they were doing at the Supreme Court, but we watched them work and then our younger associates fanned out and this is an argument we saw in a lot of cases and we relied on these young associates including myself to brief it and argue it at a bunch of other cases.

 

So in the last four years, we’ve developed a pretty deep working knowledge of those issues, class certification obviously is something that’s a procedural step we had in a lot of our cases and a few years ago I sort of — I just offered to work on class certification in one of our cases, did so successfully in that case and have continued to do that and even though that’s a really big step in a lot of our cases as an associate, I’m given that opportunity and that responsibility, and so this big Facebook appeal comes around, it’s probably the biggest class certification fight we’ve had in a long time.

 

(00:20:04)

 

It’s probably the biggest Article III fight we’ve had since Spokeo itself, but because I’ve been working on these issues, I get to stand up in front of the Ninth Circuit and argue it, and as I honestly I think I blacked out a little bit. I don’t remember the argument at all.

 

And I’m a little afraid to go back and listen to it or watch it. I’ve listened to all my others but I don’t want to know what happened. We won the appeal and that’s good enough for me.

 

But it presents a lot of interesting issues about how you sort of think about what the harms are in these privacy cases because our traditional understanding of harm is put it bluntly blood or money and that’s really not what you’re dealing with here. But I think recently especially we’ve had some success convincing people that what these companies are using data and maybe manipulating you and this is sort of in the zeitgeist now that especially following some of the revelations after the 2016 election that what this data is out there and it’s being used by companies in ways you might not understand, but some of this is governed by laws that are on the books and it’s up to us to enforce those.

 

So it was pretty exciting stuff to be honest.

 

Elie Mystal: I just want to for — we got — we have a lot of listeners who defined themselves as associates in major law firms.

 

Go back through a little bit, sorry that part where you are the associate arguing in front of the Ninth Circuit, like you went a little bit faster I think for me at least like so you developed an expertise in class certification which I okay, so you want to do it and then you say, you work on — you are working on this case, you are working on that case. Now this major case comes up and you’re the go-to lawyer on class certification in the firm. Like how does that happen?

 

Aaron Lawson: That’s — it is pretty crazy, but that’s sort of our attitude that I was on the front lines of these fights in a number of cases and I did help, I didn’t appear in the District Court. I have a — when you appear on District Court dockets all of a sudden you’re on big reply all emails chains, and I’m just not about that.

 

But I do some ghostwriting when we got to the class certification stage in the District Court, but yeah, I’ve developed an expertise and I’ve been successful enough in drafting and occasionally arguing these motions, and this is actually not the first Rule 23(f) Appeal I had argued, but and it’s also now not the only one I’ve argued successfully.

 

That when it came time to argue this case, that the partners at the firm put their trust in me, and I really appreciate that. It makes it a lot easier to come into work and when you know that you get that kind of trust from the people who are in charge, and it is really nice and but in this case, it was incredibly intimidating. I mean it’s definitely the biggest class certified we’ve had in some time.

 

The Article III issues were obviously — I mean they are in front of the Supreme Court right now. And I was — I was really nervous, but this is — if you’re going to invest in associates this is kind of where it leads you.

 

And for the moment at least, that bet has paid off.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah. No, that’s —

 

Christopher L. Dore: If I can just jump in here.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Christopher L. Dore: Aaron is being modest here where he is a little bit describing himself as having just stumbled into this and we said okay, yeah, go ahead. He has done, ever since he has come to the firm, he has done incredible work for us. He is a fantastic writer and his oral argument in Facebook was — we all watched it, we all had it up on our conference room and it was an amazing thing to watch and there was really no doubt in our minds sending him out there.

 

But it’s because it’s also not the first time we’ve ever done this. It’s not that we just took a flyer on an associate for the first time in this case. We’ve been sending associates to court generally constantly forever, but we’ve also been sending associates to Circuit Court arguments around the country. Someone we just made partner this year Ben Thomassen argued in the Eleventh Circuit years ago when he was a first or second year, and he won.

 

And it’s a ground — it’s a groundbreaking case in the privacy world about data breaches and overpayment.

 

And so this is just at the core of who we are to be putting essentially people into positions where they are the best at whatever they’re doing. And if you’re the most knowledgeable person, be it in a mediation or on a call with opposing counsel or if it’s going to court, it doesn’t matter what year you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re partner and associate, we want whoever is in the best position to make an argument to answer a question, to be the person who’s there, and that’s our philosophy.

 

(00:25:03)

 

Joe Patrice: And I guess there’s something to be said for being on your side of the V out there, because a lot of the — I talked to big law partners who do a lot of defense work and they say, the reason they don’t let associates get that sort of FaceTime with the court is because – well they’d frankly love to, but then you have to turn around into whatever corporate in-house muckety-muck you’re working for and say, oh yeah, no, I know I’m the person you’re paying a thousand dollars an hour, but I’m going to let the first year try it, and they just don’t feel comfortable doing that, but that doesn’t mean — they say the first year is absolutely capable of doing it, in fact maybe more capable because they’ve done all the work on it, but I just can’t report to the in-house folks that way, whereas on the class action side, in a lot of ways you’re go directing how it works.

 

And so you have a little bit more freedom.

 

Aaron Lawson: Yeah, and something you said there also — I mean it definitely applies to us, right. Your younger associates in any case are going to be the ones kind of on the front lines and driving the litigation forward. They will be knee-deep in the documents or knee-deep in the research that’s being done on a motion to dismiss, because they’re writing the first draft of whatever.

 

And to us, it just makes sense to have that person also get up and explain whatever it is that needs to be explained to the court, because that’s one, it means two people don’t have to learn the same thing, but it also — it ends — you can put someone like me out in front of the Ninth Circuit in our Facebook case and be confident I guess, people were confident that the outcome will be okay.

 

Sydney Janzen: I’ve noticed more and more to that. A lot of district judges are starting to have standing orders that note that they want younger associates in court and kind of admonishing big law partners when they don’t bring them or don’t put them in a speaking role in the courtroom, which I think is awesome.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

 

Christopher L. Dore: Yeah Joe to your point I think there’s some truth to the statement you made about big law making decisions about associates, but I don’t think that’s the full story. I think that’s a nice way to — a nice excuse for them to say we don’t trust them, and it’s harsh, but I think it’s unfortunately true that there’s a lot of incentives to keep the work either at the top from a monetary standpoint, or they just simply do not trust young associates, and it creates a terrible problem.

 

And you know if you talk to Jay about this, this is a lot of his thought process on how he developed the firm is that when he was himself a first-year associate at a big law firm, there was no trust, there was no effort to put them out there and there was a lot of reasons for that, and he found that the people around him were — they were scared, they were scared of going to court, they were scared of confronting opposing counsel, they were scared of all the things you need to be able to do as a lawyer, because they hadn’t done it for years.

 

And then all of sudden they’re asked to do it at a later time and our philosophy is the opposite. You’re going to court as fast as we possibly can get you out there. We have a rule around here that it’s like, you get sworn in, you have the next available court date you’re going to court and you’re speaking, sometimes it’s that day if we can manage it.

 

And it’s tearing that Band-Aid and saying look, you’re competent, you can do this and there’s nothing to be scared of and to get comfortable in that position, so that by the time Sydney is a couple years in and is going to court like she absolutely has lost track of how many times she has ever been to court, it’s just second nature.

 

Joe Patrice: Well, that’s a good way of pivoting. So we’ve talked about working on tech cases, Sydney you’ve worked on a high-profile case, that’s not so much in the tech space, can you talk a little bit about what’s going on with the sports performance case?

 

Sydney Janzen: Sure, yeah. This is definitely not our typical type of case, but certainly in recent years with MeToo and everything, sexual abuse has come to the forefront.

 

So that what this case is about is there’s a youth volleyball coach here in the Chicagoland area, who’s one of the most prominent youth volleyball coaches in the country and there are allegations that he sexually abused his players going back decades.

 

And so this came to our knowledge. I think anyone who has researched our firm might have found that we like to play volleyball here. Jay loves volleyball, we’ve got a volleyball court at the office. So Jay heard of this and we were just kind of brainstorming on is there anything we can do.

 

The women who have come forward those claims date back to the 80s, so the Statute of Limitations had long run on those claims from a criminal or even civil perspective for those women.

 

(00:30:00)

 

But we decided to take a route relying on our class action consumer protection backgrounds and found that we had actually pretty good claims under the Consumer Protection Act here and there’s also a statute dealing with contracts with gyms or fitness facilities, where now we have a lawsuit on behalf of parents whose children play volleyball at Sports Performance Volleyball and specifically for this coach.

 

And basically the claim is a simple consumer protection claim. We wouldn’t have brought our kids to be coached by this guy if we had known that he had a history of sexually abusing his players. And it’s certainly been eye-opening. It’s been just amazing speaking to these women and knowing how brave they are to have come forward and knowing in some way, shape or form, we’re trying to help them tell their stories, give them a platform, but also kind of hold this coach and his facility accountable.

 

Elie Mystal: Wow. I mean that’s usually the kind of work you hear people doing pro bono, right because like that’s like — when you are fighting so often I think especially in the world of like high, big firm, high pressure law, when you’re fighting the good fight so often you’re kind of forced to fight that fight for free.

 

Sydney Janzen: Well to be clear, we are bringing this case pro bono. We are not taking any fees for this case. It’s just something we believe in really strongly and so it’s definitely not our typical pro-bono case here. We do encourage attorneys to pursue pro bono cases that mean a lot to them.

 

But this was definitely something that everyone could get behind and it just felt like the right thing to do and something we really wanted to do.

 

Aaron Lawson: Yeah and this case has really been a focus of the firm and Sydney has been leading in that, and it’s not a typical pro-bono case that a lot of big firms look at it and push down to younger associates just as to keep those wheels moving.

 

This is something that as Sydney said Jay is very passionate about and the firm was passionate about and it’s been honestly one of the most heavily litigated cases that we’ve had. There has been so much action in this case and we’ve gotten class certification, we are dealing with summary judgment and our expectation is this case is going to trial in Federal Court here in Chicago.

 

And we’re really excited to keep pushing it and to get to the right resolution.

 

Joe Patrice: I mean obviously the cases that most come to mind about this are all of the cases surrounding the gymnastics scandals and it just seems as though that there might be deep-seated problems within youth coaching in sports and I think there’s something to be said for coming up with a novel approach for how to get at these issues even where there are Statute of Limitations problems is a real service, not just to these women and these parents who are involved, but to others who will pick up this mantle potentially if more problems are discovered elsewhere.

 

Sydney Janzen: Absolutely. I mean we’re hopeful that moving forward — if this happens to anyone else which we obviously hope it doesn’t, but our eyes are open to the fact that there is a rampant problem in youth sports today with these sorts of things. We’re hopeful that this case can kind of act as a blueprint for ways to hold these folks accountable moving forward.

 

Joe Patrice: Well great. Well thanks everybody for joining. This was really useful and I think it’s good. We have a — our audience is kind of all over the place but we do have a good deal of vocal folks who reach out to us who are in the pre-law space trying to figure out where they want their law school career to go.

 

And I think a lot of times when you show up in law school, you’re funneled down the path towards being at some defense, on the defense side and I think it’s good to hear what’s going on, on the other side of things and the sort of work that you could be doing if you chose to go on more of a plaintiff’s route.

 

Christopher L. Dore: It’s a good time on this side of the V and law schools and you guys too would be appreciated to make sure that the law students know that there is another half of the world out there.

 

Joe Patrice: Yeah and that’s why it’s been really good over the years, not that we don’t talk about other firms but you’ve always been very forward about bringing stories to us and stuff that you’re working on so that we’re in a position to talk about it. Some others don’t publicize their work in ways that meet our radar all that often. So it’s been very good of you all to keep us in the loop as to what the work you’re doing.

 

Christopher L. Dore: Yeah, happy to do so.

 

(00:35:00)

 

Joe Patrice: Well great. Thanks everybody for listening and if you aren’t already subscribed, you should be doing that. You should go, give us reviews not just the little stars but write something. The mere act of writing things helps those algorithms figure out that we’re a law podcast that’s out there that people should listen to.

 

Elie Mystal: Oh algorithms.

 

Joe Patrice: I mean I’m sure it’s something that violates one of these rules, but the point is you should be doing that. You should also be reading Above the Law obviously following and The Nation, I guess I should start saying now. You should be following us on Twitter. I’m @JosephPatrice. He is @ElieNYC.

 

You should be listening to all the various offerings of the Legal Talk Network as well as The Jabot which is Kathryn Rubino’s podcast here at Above the Law and with all of that said and thank you and thank you to Logikcull for sponsoring and giving me an opportunity to come up with a different animal pun every week. So thank you. Oh yeah. So thanks everybody and we’ll talk to you soon.

 

Elie Mystal: Peace.

 

[Music]

 

Outro: If you would like more information about what you heard today, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. You can also find us at abovethelaw.com, atlredline.com, iTunes, RSS, Twitter and Facebook.

 

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

 

[Music]

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Episode Details
Published: January 21, 2020
Podcast: Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Category: Legal Entertainment , Legal News
Podcast
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law

Above the Law's Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice examine everyday topics through the prism of a legal framework.

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