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US: Liebenberg, Nast appoints new antitrust head

 |  November 30, 2016

In an “extremely rare” move, one that was hailed as an advance for diversity, two women have been tapped to lead a federal multidistrict antitrust litigation.

US District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered an order appointing Roberta Liebenberg of Fine, Kaplan and Black and Dianne M. Nast of Nast Law as co-lead counsels in In re Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation. The appointment comes a few months after Jan P. Levine of Pepper Hamilton was appointed as lead counsel for the defense.

Researcher Dana Alvare at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the appointment of women and diverse attorneys on steering committees and as lead counsels, said she has not seen two women appointed as lead counsel on an MDL in her research, which looks at appointments over the past five years.

“It’s extremely rare for there to be a female-only lead, either joint or single,” Alvare said. “It is a really big deal, and Dianne Nast and Bobbi Liebenberg are significantly qualified in that field.”

In a similarly unusual move, Rufe’s order said that the leadership should encourage younger attorneys to participate.

“The court expects that the leadership will provide opportunities for attorneys not named to the plaintiff’s steering committee, particularly less-senior attorneys, to participate meaningfully and efficiently in the MDL, including through participation in any committees within the plaintiff’s steering committee and in determining which counsel will argue any motions before the court,” Rufe said.

Liebenberg said she felt that language was an important step toward ensuring that younger attorneys, many of whom are women and minority lawyers, will get the opportunities that will ultimately allow them to one day be appointed as lead counsel in nationwide litigations.

Full Content: The Legal Intelligencer

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