Philadelphia lawyers Peter Muhic and Peter “Tad” LeVan, Jr. founded
MLA Dispute Resolution to fix the nation’s inefficient and flawed mediation system.
Philadelphia (June 25, 2019) – Two prominent Philadelphia attorneys who have built practices at several of the region’s most accomplished law firms—including Cozen O’Connor, Hangley Aronchick and Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, where they spent many years together as colleagues—have teamed up to launch MLA Dispute Resolution, a boutique dispute resolution firm focused on mediation services for class actions and complex litigation matters.
Co-founders Peter Muhic and Peter “Tad” LeVan, Jr. launched the firm earlier this month after enduring many inefficient and unproductive mediation sessions throughout their combined half- century spent litigating class actions and complex litigation from both sides of the aisle.
“Simply put, the current mediation system is inefficient and flawed,” said Peter Muhic. “As most attorneys who have mediated even one case have come to realize, class actions and other complex litigation cannot be effectively and efficiently mediated simply by exchanging settlement memos and having a mediator walk back and forth between rooms of opposing counsel and clients.”
Before co-founding MLA Dispute Resolution, Muhic was a partner at Kessler Topaz for ten years where he litigated many class actions and complex cases involving areas of law such as fiduciary duties, consumer protection, RICO, ERISA, and wage and hour. Prior to joining Kessler Topaz, Muhic was a member of Cohen, Placitella & Roth. Muhic spent the first eleven years of his legal career at Cozen O’Connor where he rose from an associate to a partner before leaving to pursue a plaintiffs’ practice. Muhic also has been conducting settlement conferences for over a decade as a judge pro tempore for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
“Peter and I launched MLA because we have a unique perspective that the vast majority of mediators do not: we’ve litigated and tried class actions and complex litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants, and we know the key issues that drive settlement and the elements that courts consider before they approve class actions,” said Tad LeVan. “We’ve built MLA’s services around a fundamental belief that runs counter to how most mediations are carried out today: that joint mediation sessions should be culminating events which take place only after the mediators have worked substantially with the parties to immerse themselves in the key facts and legal claims that are central to a dispute—and the possible settlement of it.”
Prior to co-founding MLA Dispute, LeVan founded and still operates the LeVan Law Group, a boutique litigation firm. LeVan launched the firm five years ago after practicing as a partner at Kessler Topaz, where he prosecuted complex class actions on behalf of pension and 401(k) plans. LeVan joined Kessler Topaz after practicing at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller for more than a decade, where he rose from associate to shareholder and was elected to a three-year term on the firm’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. LeVan, a former federal law clerk, began his legal practice in the Cleveland office of what is now Squire Patton Boggs.
In addition to creating an innovative mediation process that saves time and money, and maximizes effectiveness through advance work and proactive involvement before a joint mediation session, Muhic and LeVan will also provide services geared toward resolving fee disputes among plaintiffs’ counsel and dealing with objections to class action settlements. Objections and fee disputes—which Muhic and LeVan have significant experience resolving throughout their careers—frequently delay the final approval of settlements and/or the distribution of proceeds.
“With the rise in large global class settlements and their associated fee awards, it is no surprise that fee disputes are occurring more frequently as plaintiffs’ counsel want to ensure they are being fairly compensated for their efforts in a particular case,” said Muhic. “This is a niche area of mediation where it is highly beneficial for mediators to have the significant real world experience that Tad and I have in dealing with these kinds of issues and disputes—and the insights that experience has provided us.”
Regarding objectors, Muhic and LeVan believe that with the December 2018 changes to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure concerning objections to class action settlements, class counsel and defense counsel alike will need to be more proactive and strategic about resolving these objections in a timely manner, and will need assistance from mediators like them to do so.
“If objections to class action settlements are not resolved before the final settlement approval hearing or an appeal, there can be significant delays and procedural hurdles that will pose problems for all parties involved,” said LeVan. “Because dealing with objectors is time consuming and can create potential conflicts for class counsel and defense counsel, our services focusing on monitoring and resolving objections provide real value to the parties and attorneys on both sides of the dispute.”
While MLA is based in Center City Philadelphia, the firm offers mediation services nationwide in a wide variety of subject matters and in both federal and state jurisdictions.
About MLA Dispute Resolution
MLA Dispute Resolution offers a better way for attorneys and their clients to resolve class, complex, and two-party disputes by providing an innovative mediation process that dispenses with the gross inefficiencies and unproductive sessions inherent in the traditional mediation model. MLA was founded by two attorneys who have a wealth of combined experience litigating, trying, mediating, and resolving complex legal matters throughout the country in a wide variety of subject matter areas—on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants alike. For more information, please visit www.mladr.com or call 215.337.3995.
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