Posts Tagged ‘lawyers’

October 18 roundup

  • Research by Todd Henderson et al. suggests that lawyers may often do well as CEOs, and anticipating and reducing litigation risk may be a key mechanism [Stephen Bainbridge]
  • Canada: Couple sues neighbors for $2.5 million for copying their house’s architecture [Rain Noe, Core77]
  • Abraham Lincoln on public choice and the aligning of interest with ethical duty [David Henderson]
  • Redistricting, Anne Arundel county executive allies with trial lawyers to file opioids suit, Baltimore police, Montgomery County minimum wage in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes]
  • Black smokers in the U.S. are more likely than whites to prefer menthol, and prohibitionists frame foiling their wishes as a matter of racial justice [Christian Britschgi]
  • Here come the trustbusting conservatives back again, no more convincing this time around [Steven Greenhut]

In Ontario, a new Test Act?

According to the Ontario bar association, all lawyers “must prepare and submit a personal ‘Statement of Principles’ attesting that we value and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.” Bad idea: “In free countries, law governs actions rather than expressions of beliefs. People can be required to obey the speed limit and pay taxes, but they may not be compelled to declare that the speed limits are properly set or that taxes are a good thing. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that forcing someone to express opinions that they do not have ‘is totalitarian and as such alien to the tradition of free nations like Canada, even for the repression of the most serious crimes.'” [Bruce Pardy, National Post]

“Professionalism and decorum,” plus foes’ “tattered bodies littered around the courtroom”

A lawyer recruitment ad from Birmingham, Alabama is raising some eyebrows [Keith Lee]. “Maintaining professionalism and decorum” is important, at least up to a point: “You should want to destroy your enemies and leave their tattered bodies littered around the courtroom.” The pay? It starts at $35,000 a year.

Barton and Bibas, Rebooting Justice

In the mail, and on sale soon from Encounter Books: Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers, and the Future of Law by Benjamin Barton (University of Tennessee) and Stephanos Bibas (Penn). Publisher’s summary:

America is a nation founded on justice and the rule of law. But our laws are too complex, and legal advice too expensive, for poor and even middle-class Americans to get help and vindicate their rights. Criminal defendants facing jail time may receive an appointed lawyer who is juggling hundreds of cases and immediately urges them to plead guilty. Civil litigants are even worse off; usually, they get no help at all navigating the maze of technical procedures and rules. The same is true of those seeking legal advice, like planning a will or negotiating an employment contract.

Rebooting Justice presents a novel response to longstanding problems. The answer is to use technology and procedural innovation to simplify and change the process itself. In the civil and criminal courts where ordinary Americans appear the most, we should streamline complex procedures and assume that parties will not have a lawyer, rather than the other way around. We need a cheaper, simpler, faster justice system to control costs. We cannot untie the Gordian knot by adding more strands of rope; we need to cut it, to simplify it.

And the blurb I was happy to contribute to the book’s back jacket:

“America’s legal establishment is right that our legal system is suffering an access-to-justice crisis, but dead wrong about how to fix things. In clear, energetic, skillful prose, Bibas and Barton first give the misguided crusade for Civil Gideon a decent burial. Then they go on to propose ideas that are much better ? better in moving with the times on technology, better at lowering rather than heightening the problems of cost and delay, and better at focusing the scarce talents of skilled courtroom counsel where they can make the most difference, specifically on felony charges.”

— Walter Olson, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of The Litigation Explosion

Other blurbs are by Deborah Rhode, Philip K. Howard, and Glenn Reynolds.

Interviewed about lawyers in America

Joseph Ford Cotto interviewed me for his publication, the San Francisco Review of Books, and has now published the results as a three-part series:

Part I. Is having more lawyers in society good for liberty? Should the government seek to equalize access to lawyers? Do consumers benefit from a glut of lawyers?

Part II. Does reality live up to the public image of lawyers as affluent? How might demand for lawyers decline in the future? Is medical liability reform still needed?

Part III (which links to the previous two). What are some less obvious costs of litigiousness? Which reasons to want to become a lawyer are good or bad, especially from a libertarian point of view? What about criminal law? And is legal practice too commercialized?

January 18 roundup

  • Another day, another lawsuit charging a social media company with material support for terrorism. This time it’s Twitter and IS attacks in Paris, Brussels [Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare; Tim Cushing, Techdirt] More: And yet another (Dallas police officer versus Twitter, Facebook, and Google; listed as one of the filing attorneys is 1-800-LAW-FIRM, no kidding, complaint h/t Eric Goldman);
  • “Woman Sues Chipotle for $2 Billion for Using a Photo of Her Without Consent” [Petapixel]
  • “Hot-Yoga Guy and His Cars Are Missing” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • From Backpage.com to unpopular climate advocacy, state attorneys general use subpoena power to punish and chill [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Dept. of awful ideas: California assemblyman proposes registry of hate crime offenders [Scott Shackford]
  • But oh, so worth it otherwise: “Not one Kansas state senator is a lawyer, making compliance with obscure statute impossible” [ABA Journal]

About that “Trump and the Russian law firm of the year” story

You’ve probably seen the “Donald Trump represented on ethics issue by Russian law firm of the year” story. And if you paid it only fleeting attention, you may not have recognized it as a classic instance of outrage clickbait fluff.

The firm turns out to be the venerable and far-flung firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, eighth largest in the U.S. and thirteenth largest in the world, per the American Lawyer rankings. Sheri Dillon, a tax specialist associated with Morgan’s Washington, D.C. office, was on hand at the press conference to assist Trump in his presentation on conflict of interest avoidance. Typical of BigLaw firms, Morgan employs much high-level legal talent — Texas Senator Ted Cruz practiced there — and represents all sorts of figures in public life and the political world. Not unusually for a world BigLaw leader, Morgan has an office in Moscow among its dozens of other offices worldwide; that outpost won plaudits for its success by one private group that rates lawyers.

As Snopes soon found, “Donald Trump is not the only high-level politician to have engaged the services of Morgan Lewis. In October 2016, Hillary Clinton used the firm” to help vet potential appointees. The Barack Obama campaign also used Morgan’s services.

Outfits that saw fit to treat this tale as important news included CNN, The Daily Beast, The Week (“Just let that sink in for a second”), The Independent, and many more. In some cases, publications circled back with rewrites as word began to get out that it might be sort of a non-story after all: whatever interesting connections there might be between Trump and Russia, this wasn’t one of them. In the meantime, the story had gotten countless thousands of outrage-shares.

For a somewhat similar instance of randomly connecting BigLaw dots in a wildly misleading way that failed to go viral — it concerned the firm of Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan, also known for its tax expertise — see this 2013 post.

Sweden: image vs. reality

Please update your mental image of Scandinavian policy: “Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie.” [Johan Norberg, Reason; Daniel Mitchell, Cato]

While we’re at it, Sweden has fewer than one-sixth as many lawyers per capita as the U.S., in part because its rules of civil procedure are drawn so to discourage needless legal combat.