Note: This article was also published in Bloomberg Business

Alan Kaplinsky, now a senior partner at Ballard Spahr, was working as an attorney for banks and credit card companies in the mid-1990s when he introduced an innovative idea. His proposal—to require cardholders to work with an arbitrator to settle their claims instead of going to court, while also waiving the right to file a class-action lawsuit—sparked what now is regarded as a highly effective tactic by American business again plaintiffs’ class actions.

His novel idea catapulted Kaplinsky from obscurity to now being recognized as the key corporate attorney behind the shift in how these matters were resolved.

Financial services companies hailed his new approach and quickly adopted the practice for credit card agreements and many other consumer transactions all across the country. On the slip side, plaintiffs’ attorneys were outraged, and there were efforts underway at the federal level to sharply restrict the use of arbitration. One outcome is the birth of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, authorized by Congress in response to the 2008 credit crunch, which now is moving toward adopting rules that would outlaw such class-action waivers.

Corporate America shares Kaplinsky’s view, preferring the streamlined process of arbitration, without juries and limited rights of appeal

"Very often plaintiffs' attorneys file without any intention of pursuing the lawsuit (to its conclusion)," he told me. "All they want is a settlement. All they want to do is make 25 or 50 grand."