Class Dismissed

Drew Hansen was a lock-down defender on the court at the University of Utah, and is one again at Arent Fox

Published in 2010 Southern California Rising Stars — July 2010

The way Drew Hansen sees it, it’s the corporations he represents who are the little guys.

“On our side we have an actual client who looks over our shoulder because he’s concerned,” says the class action defense attorney for Arent Fox. “On the other side, plaintiffs often only have a nominal familiarity with the lawsuit, and most benefits accrue to the plaintiff’s attorneys.”

To emphasize this point, Hansen notes that class actions are one of the few types of cases where after a settlement is reached, the court has to approve it, to ensure that the chief plaintiff and the class counsel don’t “sell out” the rest of the class.

As examples, the 34-year-old Hansen cites a case in which he defended Biotech Research, a marketer of air purifiers, in which the judge declared both plaintiffs unfit to represent the class, and implied that the class counsel was inadequate as well.

In another case, when unhappy customers filed a complaint against Rescue Debt, a company that ostensibly helps people with credit-card debt, Hansen determined that unless the plaintiffs had help from relatives or friends, there was no way they could have avoided bankruptcy. On a hunch, he researched this and found that the parties had filed bankruptcy in other jurisdictions, which meant that their claim now belonged to the bankruptcy estate. Hansen ended up purchasing the claim from the trustee, nullifying the plaintiffs’ standing.

Hansen is attracted to the competitive nature of litigating cases. That’s not surprising considering that in his relatively short career since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2001 he’s already clerked for a Utah Supreme Court justice; worked at Sidley Austin, where he began his career in class action defense; jumped to Call, Jensen & Ferrell; co-founded Hansen & Taylor (later Hansen & Phillips), a business litigation firm with co-counsel and friend Greg Taylor; and then left it to become an equity partner at Arent Fox.

While he loved having his own firm, and it was successful, with more than $1 million in revenues its first year, Hansen now says, “I’m glad I didn’t know all the pitfalls and risks going in. I’m not sure I would’ve done it if I didn’t have a little ignorance.” Still, it fit with his philosophy, which is, “We like to bet on ourselves.”

He grew up in Tooele, Utah. In a town of hard-working people, Hansen says his parents were the hardest-working he knew. His father still rises at 4:45 each workday morning to go to his job.

These days Hansen lives in Orange County with his wife Emily (whom he met on a basketball court) and two daughters, ages 3 and 4, and spends a chunk of his down time involved in various social programs with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hansen is as proud of the fact that up until Stanford Law School he only received one grade as “low as an A-” as he is that he shares the record for playing in the most basketball games in University of Utah history. A three-point shooter and defensive stopper, his team even played in the NCAA championship game, losing to Kentucky. His description of his ball-playing days seems apt for his entire career.

“Whatever my abilities were, I maximized them,” Hansen says.

CORRECTION

The article that ran in our print magazine incorrectly stated in the subhead that Drew Hansen was a lock-down defender at BYU when it should have said the University of Utah. We regret the error.

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