A blog called Disgusted Beyond Belief has an interesting post refuting the criticisms often levied against class action cases generally and the class action bar in particular. An excerpt:
Dealing with the [class action attorney's] fees [and] whether they are "deserved" - I say that they clearly are. Were it not for those fees, as noted above, the poor could be trod upon with impunity (as it is, they still often are, but it would be much much worse without [class action cases]). Putting together a class action suit is hard work that requires specialized lawyers with years of experience and also requires spending a lot of cash upfront on the part of the law firm. Only a large, rich law firm can handle class action suits for that reason. Veteran lawyers with highly specialized skills are needed. They don't come cheap, for good reason. They work hard, working long hours, sometimes for years, and all with the chance that in the end, they will get nothing. So the winning cases not only have to pay them for their time for those cases, they also have to cover all of the money spent on losing cases or on cases that, despite winning, still did not cover the cost of their actual time spent. In short, they deserve every penny - they work hard for it.
Thank you. I don't necessarily think that only a "rich, large law firm" can handle a class action case, but you definitely have to be persistent and very hard-working to succeed in this area of practice.