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Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America Paperback – January 31, 2011


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Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America + Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 584 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521189497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521189491
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lester Brickman is a man with a mission: To expose the waste and fraud that permeates the system of tort liability as it has grown up over the past forty years in the United States. Brickman is an indefatigable researcher who understands the keys to unlocking the secrets of the tort system. What is truly striking about Lawyer Barons is not just the massive amount of evidence presented but the tenacity with which he tracks down just about every scrap of available evidence on a particular problem and melds it into a compelling narrative that reads as a coherent whole.

Anyone who reads this book will quickly conclude that tort reform belongs back on the national agenda."

- Richard Epstein
Lawrence A. Tisch Professor of Law, N.Y.U. Law School
Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution




"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




"In Lawyer Barons, Lester Brickman exposes the new legal power elite as little more than a sleazy, self-interested racket. Brickman surgically dismantles each rationale for their approach to justice, revealing a sewer of hypocrisy and greed. Brickman lets the facts do the work of the powerful indictment, leaving the Bar with this unavoidable choice - does it stand for justice, or money?"

- Philip Howard
Founder, Common Good
Author, The Death of Common Sense




"Tort litigation in America is riven with abusive and corrupt practices that Dickens would find familiar. Dickens is not around to chronicle them, but fortunately, Lester Brickman is. Himself an able story-teller, Brickman combines compelling narrative with lucid summary of pertinent theories and research. He builds a powerful case that current fee practices undermine the tort system and betray the professed values of the legal profession."

- William H. Simon
Arthur Levitt Professor of Law
Columbia Law School




"Lester Brickman has long strikingly exposed in scholarly and other writings the gross unfairness of much personal injury law, especially the often scandalously excessive 'contingent fees' charged by many claimants' lawyers. In this thorough but readable book Brickman both collects and expands on his seminal scholarship to the benefit of all - except those same claimants' lawyers."

- Jeffrey O'Connell
Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law
University of Virginia School of Law




"There is about [LAWYER BARONS] the sort of fascination one has in being let in on the workings of a particularly long con. ... Mr. Brickman has made the case for a re-thinking of contingency fee arrangements. Considering the powerful role of such arrangements in the shape and evolution of the American legal system, that is a considerable achievement."

- Dennis Jacobs
New York Law Journal




"...Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the modern American tort system actually works."

- Daniel Fisher
Forbes.com


Book Description

This book is a broad and deep inquiry into how contingency fees distort our civil justice system, influence our political system, and endanger democratic governance. It provides a window into the seamy underworld of contingency fees that the bar and the courts not only tolerate but even protect and nurture.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By T. Frank on May 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
How much do I like this book? I got a free review hardcopy, and I ended up buying the Kindle version so I could always have a searchable version with me as a reference.

Professor Brickman is one of the few scholars commenting on the striking problem of legal ethics that lawyers tolerate lawyers cheating their clients out of small fortunes to an extent they would never tolerate any other business cheating their customers--which is especially ironic given that attorneys are supposed to have fiduciary duties to their clients. (The opening account of Mary Corcoran, and how an appellate court shrugged when an attorney took her for $140,000 without winning her a penny is alone worth the price of the book.) Brickman lays out a compelling case for the distorting effects of contingency fees, their effect on tort law, their incentives for extensive mass tort fraud, and the failure of the judicial system to police the conflicts of interest inherent in class actions.

Brickman marshals evidence to an extent no previous author has before. A reader is almost getting two books in one: a readable account of the problem that one can read straight through without ever flipping to the back, and then an extensive set of detailed footnotes and appendices for those looking for further scholarship. Any aspiring legal academic or law student looking for paper ideas can mine these footnotes for several full careers worth of further inquiry in this understudied area.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachel P. Maines on September 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you think corporate greed is a problem, just wait'll you read about the systematic avarice associated with contingency fees in American litigation. Sums of money larger than the GDPs of small nations pass into the hands of the plaintiff bar on claims that another reviewer of this book rightly characterized as "long-running scams." Brickman really has the goods on outrageously inflated compensation for risks the plaintiff bar isn't taking. Some of his well-documented tales would be rejected by fiction authors as too outlandish to be believed. Lawyer Barons is a necessary corrective for the theory that plaintiff attorneys, especially those in mass torts, are knights in shining armor, out there championing the downtrodden. If you're sufficiently downtrodden to face any real risk in litigation, Brickman argues cogently that you'll be very fortunate indeed if you can persuade one of the high-flying plaintiff law firms to take your case. We are all paying for this "entrepreneurial" litigation in the costs of all the goods and services we buy, as well as in jobs permanently lost to the U.S. economy. Read Brickman's Lawyer Barons if you care whether or not the American legal system is really delivering justice.
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