19 Oct 2022

Leading US class action lawyer sets sights on UK with Manchester law firm opening

Mark Lanier taps two former Linklaters solicitors to help launch Lanier Longstaff Hedar & Roberts

A photo of Mark Lanier and Tom Longstaff

Mark Lanier (left) and Tom Longstaff

The founder of a leading US claimant class action law firm is opening a new firm in the UK.

Mark Lanier, founder of Texas-based Lanier Law Firm, is setting up the new firm – Lanier Longstaff Hedar & Roberts (LLHR) – in Manchester to target group legal actions such as pharmaceutical claims, product liability and competition liability.  

The firm will be run by Lanier and his US COO Kevin Roberts, with plans to recruit up to 15 staff locally. Joining the firm are two barristers from Exchange Chambers, Tom Longstaff and Duncan Hedar, both former solicitors at magic circle firm Linklaters and DLA Piper before that. Longstaff joined Exchange Chambers in 2017 and Hedar in 2020, with both men remaining members of that large regional set.

Lanier brings with him a solid reputation for securing payouts in large class action claims in the US. He has won jury verdicts in a $9bn pharmaceuticals litigation, a $1.5bn hip implant-related litigation and $4.7bn for a cancer-related product liability claim against Johnson & Johnson.

He has also handled significant cases on behalf of US states, counties, municipalities and similar agencies, including representing 16 states suing Google over anti-competitive practices and obtaining billion-dollar settlements in opioid litigation on behalf of his home state, Texas. Lanier is estimated to have won almost $20bn in verdicts.

Lanier said: “We see the UK as an emerging market for our work. The same injustices that we’ve seen in the US have affected people in the UK too and so we want to provide the same representation.”

That sentiment was echoed by Roberts, who accused UK claimant firms of having “swerved certain cases” in pharma and product liability claims, which “require significant know-how and resource to run.”

Roberts said these are traits LLHR has thanks to his and Lanier’s expertise, alongside Longstaff and Hedar’s legal knowledge and understanding of the UK market, although the firm’s work as an SRA-regulated ABS will be limited to England and Wales.

Longstaff said group litigation is a huge growth area, noting that in recent years it has become easier to bring cases on behalf of groups of people in the UK, a reference to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, following the MasterCard and other cases.

Longstaff said: “The English legal profession [sic] has much to learn from the US in terms of how to run such cases effectively,” adding, “Through creating one of the leading pro-consumer law firms in America, [Lanier] has learnt a huge amount about the market, how to structure and grow this type of firm and the business processes needed to bring these cases successfully.”

Hedar added: “We will explore whether those cases brought successfully in the US could be replicated here. We expect that many can be.”

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