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Contingency fees are the way personal injury lawyers finance access to the courts for those wrongfully injured. While the public senses that lawyers manipulate the justice system to serve their own ends, few are aware of the high costs that come with contingency fees. In Lawyer Barons, Professor Lester Brickman sets out to change that, providing a window into the seamy underworld of contingency fees that the bar and the courts not only tolerate but even protect and nurture. Contrary to a broad academic consensus, he argues that the financial incentives for lawyers to litigate are so inordinately high that they perversely impact our civil justice system and impose other unconscionable costs. In so doing, he presents the intellectual architecture that underpins all tort reform efforts.
Accident rates decline, but tort costs increase. In Japan, legal fees consume just 2% of compensation payments, but American lawyers take more than half the money. If you suspected that our legal system is rigged to fund lawyers at consumers’ expense, this book well documents that. Our system is disgusting. In great detail, Lester Brickman explains how American lawyers collaborate with judges to use their special coercive powers to overwhelm defendants and create “a huge money making” machine for themselves.
— John Stossel, Fox Business Anchor
Lester Brickman is a Manhattan Institute Visiting Scholar and a Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. He is an expert in administrative alternatives to mass tort litigation, asbestos litigation, and contingency fee abuses and reform.
Hans A. von Spakovsky
Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow