Impact Fund Training Institute: A Catalyst For Thoughtful Class Action Justice

Jacob Bell - Associate Attorney, Ward & Hagen LLP | Linda Gordon - Summer Intern, The Impact Fund

Jacob Bell - Associate Attorney, Ward & Hagen LLP | Linda Gordon - Summer Intern, The Impact Fund

To round out her Summer Internship with us, Linda Gordon interviews Institute alumnus Jacob Bell...

For a decade now, the Impact Fund Training Institute has served as a catalyst for thoughtful and thorough class action litigation. Over the past ten years we have trained over 250 attorneys giving them the knowledge and foundation they need to advance justice in the United States. The Training Institute has assisted in bridging the gap between private firms and nonprofit organizations by highlighting opportunities for collaboration.

Institute alumnus, Jacob Bell, sat down with us recently to share his experience and reflect on the value of the Training Institute to him.  

Link to: Application Form

What were your biggest take aways from the training institute?

The balance of people, personalities and work backgrounds was impressive.  As someone in private practice, I feel lucky to have been included. I was really impressed with the balance between the presentations, the discussions, and the networking opportunities. The size and layout of the room and the constant shift between presentation, small group, and open discussion, meant that the pace of the training rarely slowed down.  You’ve no doubt heard the same from others, but just know that you’ve struck the right balance.

How did your background in private practice affect your experience?

Specific break-out sessions which highlight methods of collaboration between private firms and non-profit organizations were especially helpful given my background. The session on “Co-Counsel” for example, really helped me think through some issues my own firm might face in joining a large class action. The workshop on “Allies” was also enlightening. I’m sure some of the public interest people have used organizations in the past, but I have yet to come across it in private practice. It was a great lead-in to start thinking of the cost/benefit analysis on being a named plaintiff vs. a resource and ally.

Participants, instructors and guests of the 2016 Institute enjoy some social time together, digesting the day!

Participants, instructors and guests of the 2016 Institute enjoy some social time together, digesting the day!

How did the institute influence the way you approach plaintiffs?

After these workshops, I will approach identifying plaintiffs with renewed thoughtfulness and recognition of the significance of geography and damages as key for later discussions. The speakers’ experiences representing undocumented plaintiffs and selecting named plaintiffs were invaluable and really helped me think through issues that I might otherwise have checked off and pushed forward.

What sessions did you find most helpful in influencing your work moving forward?

It’s tough to overstate how great it was to have an experienced mediator share their thoughts, and share what they would have said should certain things happen.  I hope all groups get to experience this. Many thanks to the mediator for their time. I also enjoyed the “media” presentation—nice use of the communications director, I thought he added a lot to the discussion. The interviews with actual named plaintiffs was excellent; Lindsay did a great job moderating and asking the right questions. The perspective of the two plaintiffs interviewed were invaluable and probably the single most important thing I’ll take with me.

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The Impact Fund Training Institute is designed for attorneys who have limited experience in class action litigation and/or some exposure to general litigation and are looking to expand their plaintiff-side class action capacity. Class size is limited to no more than 20 students to ensure a quality experience for all attendees.

The cost of the three-day program is $1,600 for attorneys in private practice, which includes materials, as well as breakfasts, lunches, and one dinner. Attorneys from non-profit/legal services organizations qualify for a special rate of $250.

Financial assistance is available with respect to travel and lodging expenses for attendees from nonprofit organizations.