Thursday, October 7, 2010
Monday’s Guest Blogger is Lester Brickman, Professor of Law and former Acting Dean at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he teaches contracts and legal ethics. He has written extensively on legal ethics and his writings have been widely cited in treatises, casebooks, scholarly journals and judicial opinions. Among his areas of specialty are contingency fees and their effect on the tort system, mass tort litigation, asbestos litigation, regulation of attorney fees in the tobacco litigations, fee arbitration, and class actions.
Professor Brickman is publishing a book on contingency fees due out in January 2011: Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America (Cambridge Univ. Press). The book is a broad and deep inquiry into how contingency fees distort our civil justice system, influence our political system and endanger democratic government. While the public senses that lawyers manipulate the civil justice system to serve their own ends, few are aware of the high costs that come with contingency fees. This book, which distills 20 years of Professor Brickman’s research, 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, the book 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. It thus presents the intellectual architecture that underpins all tort reform efforts.
Professor Brickman also has written extensively on asbestos litigation. His articles and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee have been influential in directing attention to critical asbestos litigation abuses. He has been acknowledged by four federal courts as an expert on the history of asbestos litigation, asbestos bankruptcy trusts and the effect of tort reform on future asbestos claim generation. In early 2005, President George W. Bush introduced Professor Brickman to an audience in McComb County, Michigan, as an expert on asbestos litigation issues and asked Professor Brickman to explain the need for a legislative solution for asbestos litigation abuses.
Professor Brickman has been widely quoted in the press on lawyer fee issues as well as on tort reform issues. He has testified before Congress on the delivery of legal services, asbestos litigation, contingency fee abuses generally and in tobacco litigation and on the constitutionality of congressional regulation of fees in tobacco litigation. He has served on the professional responsibility committees of the New York State and City bar associations and on the Professional and Judicial Ethics committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Professor Brickman is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Florida Law School and has a Masters in Law degree from the Yale Law School.