A good run: Overlawyered, 1999-2020

I published the first Overlawyered post on July 1, 1999, and I expect this post on May 31, 2020 will be the last.

As someone in the entertainment world once put it, “Leave before they want you to leave.” I appreciate the outpouring of good wishes in recent days.

My gratitude to all those who have made it possible, including the Cato Institute, which has published the site for the past 10 years. And especially to the readers.

— Walter Olson

Searching the Overlawyered archives

Overlawyered always prided itself on having usable archives, and I would often hear from writers, attorneys, and others who had been alerted to cases or issues by our old posts or had found them useful in other ways. It was sometimes a struggle, because changeovers from one blogging platform/format to another can throw old posts into less readable or useful form, while the march of technology obsoletes some methods for organizing information while advancing others. (“Tags” replaced “categories,” for instance.) Still, we have managed to retain most content over the site’s 1999-2020 lifespan in searchable form.

If you’re researching more serious topics in litigation and legal reform, you might also consider searching what was for many years the sister website to Overlawyered, Point of Law, published by the Manhattan Institute (launched 2004, most recent update at present writing 2014). I launched that site with the aim of serving readers who wanted to get deeper into the details of litigation as a policy matter, and it was anything but a one-person blog, attracting a host of talented writers and editors over the years.

Finally, consider searching the Cato Institute site, where you will find decades of content by me and others on topics also covered by Overlawyered.

— Walter Olson

Best of Overlawyered

More than once a “best of Overlawyered” book was envisioned, but the project never panned out. We did, however, occasionally assemble January roundups of the best posts of the previous year, or sometimes of the most popular or clicked-on posts. You can read those, along with a number of anniversary and other themed posts, at our Best Of tag.

Detective: fraudsters broke limbs of supposed crash victims

Also from the draft-post archives, this time 2003: was it just too grotesque? Detective Ken Bigg “said that in an attempt to ward off suspicion from insurance companies, the [Chicago-area] crew would alternate between breaking arms and legs” of the victims they would then insert into staged crash scenes. “Bigg said police only learned of the scam when authorities at various homeless shelters began calling to report unusual numbers of residents showing up with broken arms or legs,” and that “the homeless ‘victims,’ who were often recruited from shelters, rarely saw much of [the] money, receiving ‘anything from nothing to $1,500’ on settlements that ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 apiece.” [AP/Northwest Indiana Times; one defendant reportedly nicknamed “Bonecrusher”; more on claims fraud]

Overlawyered’s cast of characters

While I’ve been here all along as the main writer for Overlawyered, most of that time solo, others have played key roles too, especially attorney Ted Frank, now a leading class action reformer, who was a co-blogger here from 2003 to 2010. David Nieporent joined us for the better part of a year as a third hand.

We’ve had dozens of guestbloggers, most often during summer, holiday, and vacation periods. You can read more about them here including a 2016 post series in which I briefly biographized about half of the total number and linked to a few of their guest posts. Some were well known in their field already when they joined us; others were early in their careers and have since gone on to make a name as law professors, podcast hosts, and who knows what all. With expertise in fields as diverse as medicine, insurance, sports, and food policy, our guestbloggers brought a range of posting styles from funny to serious to outrageous. All were and are appreciated.

May 28 roundup

  • Squatter sues homeowners from prison, gets default judgment [Eric Ross, KOAA; Colorado Springs. Colo.]
  • “Judge Thomas Hardiman on the history of judicial independence” [Cato Audio of last year’s Constitution Day lecture]
  • There really needs to be an off ramp at Child Protective Services by which an investigation of a family that proves unfounded can just end instead of cycling through more and more investigation [Lenore Skenazy]
  • Authors, journalists, photojournalists challenge AB5 in court: “California’s Anti-Freelancer Law Violates the First Amendment” [Trevor Burrus on Cato amicus brief in American Society of Journalists et al. v. Becerra, Ninth Circuit]
  • California’s legislature has long been itching to gut or repeal Proposition 109 (1996), in which voters banned race and sex preferences. Now they’re going to try to bring back the old identity-spoils system [Gail Heriot, RealClearPolitics]
  • “Identifying #NeverNeeded Regulation after COVID-19” [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Matthew D. Mitchell, Mercatus Center]

Liability roundup

  • Artificial intelligence dodges a legal dart: “An Algorithm for Predicting Recidivism Isn’t a Product for Products Liability Purposes” [Eugene Volokh, Jim Beck]
  • Powdered caffeine is hazardous stuff. Should Amazon be liable to the survivors of an Ohio 18-year-old who died after ingesting some bought online? [Associated Press/WKBN]
  • Overview and critique of public nuisance theories of mass tort, including vaping, opioids, climate change, and other environmental [American Tort Reform Association]
  • Knowledgeable review of NYC subway torts [Ross Sandler, CityLand (New York Law School]
  • “1 law firm gets lion’s share of $112M in NFL concussion fees” [Associated Press/WKMG]
  • Thanks Mark Pulliam for mentioning me in the course of reviewing a book that takes a rosier view of lawsuits than I do [Law and Liberty]

What to read next?

Several people have asked what blogs or other media might be worth turning to after Overlawyered ceases posting this weekend. You can probably guess what some of my own favorites are from the frequency with which I link them: Reason magazine including the Volokh Conspiracy group law professor blog, Cato at Liberty, Marginal Revolution, and Lowering the Bar, to name a few. It’s also true that a lot of activity that was once on blogs is now on Twitter, and Twitter isn’t for everyone.

What are some of your suggestions?