And John Edwards is Changing His Name to "Atticus Finch"

The Association of Trial Lawyers has a problem: People don't like trial lawyers. They have a solution: Stop calling themselves trial lawyers.

To spiff up its image, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America is considering changing its name to the American Association for Justice.

"You asked us to fight back against the attacks on the civil justice system. We are now doing that - with a national public education and communications campaign to educate the public on the value of the civil justice system and the lawyers that work in it," wrote ATLA president Ken Suggs to members last month.

Suggs said he was proud to be a trial lawyer. "But the name of our association must be about what we do, not who our members are," he wrote.

Points, at least, for not taking the sucker's way out and just plopping "Freedom" into the org's name.

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  • ||

    May I suggest the AAC, American Ambulance Chasers.

  • ||

    Shit, by any other name...

  • ||

    Why are they called "trial lawyers" in the first place? Generally the defendant has lawyers too.

    "Association of Plaintiffs' Lawyers" may not have the ring they want, though.

  • ||

    American Association for Justice?

    Sounds like a bunch of fucking superheroes.

    If Matt & Trey hadn't already used it, I swear they would've tried Super Best Friends.

    Die in a fire.

  • ||

    I was wondering when the poor unfortunates beaten down by the Conservative Renaming Machine would get wise to the tactic. It's been happening evern since anti-abortion got turned into pro-life.

    These day, if you don't like something, just rename it or change the meaning of the term.

    If the Domestic Surveilance Program can be renamed, "organic" can now be applied to a host of things NOONE who REALLY knows would consider organinc and "liberals" can be called "progressives", I guess trial lawyers can be called the something else too.

  • ||

    To spiff up its image, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America is considering changing its name to the American Association for Justice.

    That's not so bad. ...Justice League of America was already taken.

  • ||

    I imagine they'll still donate lots of money to the continuous re-election campaign of Jay Inslee (D-WA). It's funny though, he's against any real sort of tort reform. Does that mesh?

  • ||

    American Association for Justice

    Why not Association for the American Way? Then they could be AMWay, which is far more appropriate than anything with the word "justice" in the title.

  • ||

    I'm not a physicist. I'm an expert on the deep mysteries of the universe.

    I feel that the revised label inspires more of the awe and respect that I so richly deserve.

  • ||

    The good news is that a bus carrying 37 members of the American Association for Justice crashed and killed them all. The bad news is there were
    10 empty seats.

  • ||

    Hey, guess what grade they get on The Fancy Ketchup Test?


    F-

  • ||

    to educate the public on the value of the civil justice system and the lawyers that work in it

    Wouldn't the value of the civil justice system for the lawyers be to screw everybody and to make them rich? or do I need some more education?

  • ||

    During WWI, sauerkraut was renamed as "Liberty Cabbage." It still tasted like crap.

    I think they should call themselves The Bar Sinister.

    Kevin

  • Terry Michael||

    I call him the Senior Windbag from Delaware, Dave. Back in 1980, when I was a delusional left liberal, I interviewed with him for his press secretary position. The interview consisted of 30 minutes of him talking about his favorite subject, him. I don't recall that he asked me a single question about me (the interviewee.) Oddly, when he was elected to the Senate in 1972, just before his 30th birthday, he arrived in Washington with a demeanor that included funny, self-deprecating humor. But, in keeping with my maxim that the only work-able term limit is 6 months of a term, he was quickly initiated into the I'm-as-important-as-god club. That this bloviating empty suit, failing at the most important ethical test of Democratic leadership by letting this outragous war go unchallenged, would have the audacity to seek the Democratic presidential nomination goes way beyond disgusting. If I get into a candid mood, I'll tell you what I really think of him.

  • ||

    There's firm where I live that bills itself as The Mad Dogs of Justice. That's pretty boss. There's this other one which runs commercials with a great catchphrase: "Turn your wreck into a check!"

  • Gene Berkman||

    In California, the trial lawyers already changed their designation to "Consumer Attorneys."

    Of course their organization is now the "California Association of Consumer Attorneys" abbreviated as CACA.

  • Terry Michael||

    Sorry...LOL That Biden rant occurred in this space by accident, when I inadvertantly linked to Weigel's piece on Reason.com about Biden, from his Hit ' Run post on trial lawyers (by any other name....are still slimy.) But read Dave's piece on the Senior Windbag from Delaware!

  • ||

    Trial Lawyers Rule!!! Plaintiff's attorneys, trial lawyers etc may have a bad rap but they are truly doing the people's work. Without lawsuits people would be at the companies that have all of congress in their collective pockets. If you think living with the services of Plaintiff's lawyers is bad, wait till you see what life is like without them.

  • ||

    Can we make this the Year They Hanged the Lawyers?

    Please?

  • lunchstealer||

    Suggs said he was proud to be a trial lawyer. "But the name of our association must be about what we do, not who our members are," he wrote.

    "Because if it were named after who our members are," he continued, with a conspiratorial wink, "we'd be called 'a bunch of mindless jerks who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.'"*

    *With respect and love to Douglas Adams.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    either way, ten thousand of them at the bottom of the ocean is what they call a good start

  • ||

    Cool. Now that lawyers are gathering like superheroes, does this mean that I get a power ring?

    I can't wait until the Overlords come to Earth and show us a perfect legal, economic, and political system. Then I can quit my useless profession and become an engineer or something. After spending a few years as the Green Lantern, that is.

  • ||

    I suggest "Happy Law Friends."

  • ||

    the second snarky story...

    Is there any other kind of story in the blogosphere?

  • ||

    Moe Syzlak: (reading aloud a jury duty notice) "You have been invited to join the Justice Squad..."

    Ditto the hooray for working on contigency. Look, these people are so confident in your/their odds that they're willing to work for free for a long while. If you don't like that and can afford to pay them hourly, then do so.

  • ||

    PL: The original Green Lantern was both a mystery man and an engineer.

    As for the attorneys, the Seven Soldiers of Victory had an alternate name that they might be willing to relinquish: The Law's Legionaires.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Uhhh, I hate to point this out, but isnt the law of torts, along with contracts, what makes capitalism workable? I mean, look at Russia where noone believes in the courts abilities to enforce contracts and there is trust in companies due to weak tort....

  • ||

    The way you come down on lawyers, I wonder what is the proper libertarian way of resolving conflict and assessing damages when someone, in the exercise of your freedom infringes upon you..

    No matter what it is, when it is pointed out that a certain activity can hurt bystanders your answer is "let the bystanders sue".

    And now you want to take away the lawyers..

    What recourse then would thsoe affected have if first, you advice them to sue, and then you resent the means to do it. Should they stick pins into dolls?

  • ||

    Points granted; torts are the correct way to address many ills in Libertopia.

    However, Libertopia also presupposes a system where harrassment by lawsuit doesn't create massive injustices.

    "Loser pays" would be a good start. So would judges who threw out frivolous lawsuits.

    Abusive class action suits, nonsensical punitive damages awards and pervasive venue shopping all make it difficult to give much credit to the idea that tort lawyers have any interest in justice.

    The legal position of lawyers enshrined in current law (written by and for tort lawyers) also makes them fair game for oppobrium. So long as there is a crime of "practicing law without a license," the lawyers' motives will be suspect.

  • ||

    "The Association of Trial Lawyers has a problem: People don't like trial lawyers."

    Until they need one.

  • ||

    Torts and tort lawyers are necessary tools for a free society. Used responsibly, they can bring about great benefit. Used irresponsibly, they create problems.

    I don't actually want to take them away completely because of irresponsible use, anymore than I'd want to ban handguns in response to crime or ban free speech in response to a bunch of people standing in the streets yelling racial slurs.

    But lawyers, unlike many of the other tools of a free society, are a tool that is designed around use in a government arena (courts). Even though lawyers do most of their work outside a courtroom (drafting contracts, negotiating settlements, investigating and writing patent applications, etc.) their work ultimately revolves around the fact that disputes can and will be taken to court.

    So it is appropriate to ask what the government could do on its end to curtail abuse of the courts. We can debate the proper type of tort reform, but I would suggest a few principles:

    1) It should be easy to dismiss clearly frivolous suits, and the dismissal should be cheap for the defendant. Whether that means some form of loser pays or a streamlined procedure or whatever, defendants should not be pressured to settle to avoid paying more legal fees. If a defendant is facing several thousand dollars in legal fees before getting to court and receiving a favorable summary judgement, maybe it's easier to capitulate. At the very least, it makes people more risk averse.

    2) We need to get back to the notion that sometimes a buyer assumes some risk.

  • Benny||

    A lot of associations change their names to reflect what they do. Trial lawyers is a pretty broad term, and not everyone is a personal injury lawyer either. Despite the snarks of "ambulance chasers" and yes, there have been some famous ones, such as Melvin Bellei (spelling may be wrong)and his son, I agree with the poster who said:

    "Torts and tort lawyers are necessary tools for a free society. Used responsibly, they can bring about great benefit. Used irresponsibly, they create problems.

    I don't actually want to take them away completely because of irresponsible use, anymore than I'd want to ban handguns in response to crime or ban free speech in response to a bunch of people standing in the streets yelling racial slurs.

    But lawyers, unlike many of the other tools of a free society, are a tool that is designed around use in a government arena (courts). Even though lawyers do most of their work outside a courtroom (drafting contracts, negotiating settlements, investigating and writing patent applications, etc.) their work ultimately revolves around the fact that disputes can and will be taken to court."

    John Edwards, the person targeted in this post, and incidentally, his son's middle name is Atticus, (so poster, just remember that when making a snark about one of the most famous fiction characters in a revered work) believes that lawyers need to be more responsible about their cases. This is what he said in 2004 when asked about tort reform:

    Q: Your position on the issue of civil tort reform?

    A: I am proud of my 20 years work against powerful insurance companies and drug companies. I believe we have the best legal system in the world, but it is not perfect and can be improved. For example, doctors and health care providers are facing rising malpractice premiums and are having difficulty getting reimbursement for the services they provide. I have proposed that we put additional responsibilities on attorneys who file malpractice cases by requiring that they have the cases reviewed by independent experts who determine that they are serous and meritorious before a case can be filed and that the attorneys certify that this has been done. If an attorney fails to meet their obligations the attorney would be held accountable. And I would impose a three strikes and you're out rule so that if an attorney violated the requirement three times they would lose their right to file such cases for a substantial period of time. Source: http://www.issues2000.org/2004/John_Edwards_Government_Reform.htm

  • ||

    It's good to know how seriously to take libertarians' assertions that they want to replace the regulatory state with a robust civil process for redressing damage to the your physical and environmental health.

  • ||

    It should be easy to dismiss clearly frivolous suits,

    If only that were easy to make happen. The right to petition for redress of grievances, and to access the courts to resolve disputes, cannot, and really should not, be abridged too lightly.

    Unfortunately, at this stage in our history, we have not quite figured out the right balance between dispatching meritless cases, vs. preserving as fully as practicable the right of the people to have their day in court.

  • ||

    Actually, John Edwards' son (who died in a car accident) was Wade Atticus Edwards

    You're snark is disgusting sir. Shame on you.

    PS: When a pool drain sucks out your daughter's intestines, what are you going to do? You're going to call a lawyer to help you recover damage from the faulty company to pay for her medical bills for life. Grow up a little.

    http://www.wade.org/AboutWade.htm
    http://www.wade.org/wef.htm

  • Benny||

    Philgoblue's comments are spot on. It's like what Steve said earlier, people may not like trial lawyers, until they need one, and in the case of Valerie Lakey, whom Philgoblue is alluding to, Mr. and Mrs. Lakey needed a good lawyer to get damages awarded to take care of Valerie's medical needs, which are still pretty high in cost. The company wouldn't not take responsibility for a defective product. Edwards and his colleagues at Kirby and Edwards were often the last recourse any one had--and Edwards used facts to prove his cases, which is why he was very successful.

    Edwards' 2nd son, Jack, has the middle name Atticus as well.

    Maybe I'll re-read "To Kill A Mockingbird" again soon.

  • ||

    independent worm-

    I do see your point. That's why I mostly talk about goals for tort reform rather than specific procedures. I know what I want, but I'm wary of proposing any specific tinkering. I'll defer to those who know more about the process, because I don't want to tinker very much with really important stuff.

    I just ran into an example of our litigious society: I went to the local library for the first time. (Don't worry, I'll mail back my secret decoder ring :) I asked the person at the desk what sort of books were on the other floor of the building. She said that it was just a meeting room, and that the local library system no longer does two-level libraries for safety reasons. "Safety reasons?" I ask. She says that if all of the staff were on one floor and somebody got hurt or something bad happened on the other floor, that would be a problem. I didn't push any further to find out more or ridicule the situation, because she was busy just trying to help me get my card and check out my books.

    But not having dual-level libraries for safety reasons? Come on. I've been to a lot of libraries, especially university libraries, with many, many floors. Safety? Sure, something bad could always happen anyway. I just take it as a fact of life that you could happen to get hurt or come down with a sudden medical problem in a place where nobody is around to help. Now, it's easy for me to assume that risk, because I'm young and healthy. I know that library visitors are often elderly. Hell, my grandmother goes to the library a lot. Now, I love my grandmother and I hope she remains healthy for a long time to come, but I also know the realities facing a woman her age. Something could happen to her in any number of situations, and that's just a sad reality of life. I wish I could change it, but I can't.

    In light of that, it seems silly for libraries to halve their shelf space purely to avoid a scenario where somebody gets hurt when nobody else is around.

    I can think of two reasons why the library would do such a thing:

    1) Fear of liability (real or imagined).
    2) Do-gooder sentiment by the people in charge: They aren't actually in any danger of being sued, but they can't bear the thought of something bad happening, so they do a dumb thing. In a public facility, dumb responses to nanny impulses can't be ruled out as a motive.

    Either way, it's a manifestation of an attitude that we should "do whatever it takes" to make sure that nothing bad ever happens to anybody. That sort of attitude will lead to eager plaintiffs and sympathetic juries. And maybe as long as society is that way, procedural fixes to the legal system are beside the point.

    Anyway, food for thought.

  • ||

    thoreau:

    Address yourself to the society's attitudes toward risk.

    But do not blame the messenger for the message.

    You can have fear of lawsuits, or you can have government regulation ending up the same way. As a friend of mine who was in politics said "When the people really want something they get it." He did not say how, as people who are bent on getting their way are not fussy about the means.

    Work to change the attittudes of society which insist that risk is bad. Do not waste your time trying to abolish either governmetn regulation or trial lawyers, which are simply the means to the end.

  • ||

    Adriana-

    I'm beginning to think you're right. I'm open to the possibility that there are parts of the process that could be tweaked with beneficial outcomes, but that is just tweaking on the margins. As long as a lot of people regard any degree of risk as unacceptable, it is inevitable that we will have eager plaintiffs and sympathetic juries.

    I have no idea what to do about that. Maybe gaius marius is right, and our culture is entering its decadent final stages...

  • ||

    A different view of the Lakey case from Walter Olson and Ted Frank's site. To no libertarian's surprise, there was negligence by a government operation at the root of the problem.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Additional point on the Lakey case: the private club that owned the pool with the vandalized drain settled quickly. The county, which was found negligent for allowing the pool to open with damaged equipment, would have been smart to settle early. If the pool inspection had been done by a private firm, with the same lax results, I doubt if the case would have turned out any differently. But that assumes that the owners of, say, a "Pool Inspection Division" of Underwriters Laboratories or equivalent would take the same risk with the stockholders' money as the county did with the taxpayers'.

    Kevin

  • ||

    I know one woman who had to cross three state lines to find an OB-GYN who'd handle her pregnancy because of John Edwards' famous 'channeling' lawsuit. And thousands more women across this country have had their bellies cut open with steel blades in unnecessary C-sections because of that suit.

    As long as results like that are not rare, lawyers will be deservedly scorned.

  • ||

    thoreau:

    I am glad that finally here agrees with me on something...

    One thing that I would like people here to consider when they speak of the GOVERNMENT is that governments do not persecute in a vacuum. Quite often they are doing someone else's dirty work. I am minded of the comment of Henry Kamen about the Spanish Inquisition, that it was actually a popular institution, since it tended to persecute people who were disliked by the majority of the population..

    So getting rid of the GOVERNMENT will not get rid of all that nastiness and pettiness and ill will. People just have to do the dirty deed themselves, and they are quite willing to do it.

    (When they instituted "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", it was to keep restitution within bounds and go no further than that. Starry eyed idealists who dream of a world without jails nor governmetn enforced punishment are actually opening the door to lynching).

    Or paraprhrasing, a government is only as good as the people it governs..

  • Michael||

    people may not like trial lawyers...

    I nominate that for the understatement of the day award.

    Trial Lawyers' reputations as foul critters and avaricious parasites is earned by their deeds.

  • ||

    Lawyers do have their use, but they also in many ways deserve much of the anger directed towards them.

    Look at cases like the woman who spilled coffee on herself at McDonald's or pretty much any lawsuit that John Banzhaf has launched or Edwards' cerebral palsy lawsuits. We have people who started smoking long after tobacco was known to cause cancer suing, we have people suing fast food companies for their own obesity, and we have parents suing alcohol companies because their dumbass kid got drunk and crashed into a tree. These are cases that make people hate lawyers.

    We need tort laws, but we need reform too.

  • ||

    I know one woman who had to cross three state lines to find an OB-GYN who'd handle her pregnancy because of John Edwards' famous 'channeling' lawsuit. And thousands more women across this country have had their bellies cut open with steel blades in unnecessary C-sections because of that suit.

    We have a GOP talking points sighting.

    Oh, and... BULLSHIT.

  • ||

    So you hate lawyers, Harley.

    Does it occur to you to hate the laws that makes those verdicts possible? Or the juries who buy the arguments? Without the laws, the lawyers would not make those arguments, and without sympathetic juries,they would not bring those cases to trial.

    To blame the lawyers for these results is like blaming the wars on weapons makers (that was how they explained World War I)..

  • ||

    Adriana-

    To be fair, the lawyers are willing participants. Just because it's legal to chase after an ambulance doesn't mean one is obligated to do so. Just because it is legal to sue a homeowner on behalf of a burglar who tripped on a slippery floor doesn't mean a lawyer is obligated to take the case.

    I guess what I'm saying is that there's a lot of blame to go around and I'm not about to let anybody off the hook. The biggest lesson I draw from the ample amount of blame is that I'm not overly optimistic about procedural fixes. That's not to say that I reject any and all procedural fixes, but I'd have to hear a good case made by knowledgeable people, and an analysis of the side effects. I know what I want as far as outcomes, but I am well aware that a naive effort to get those outcomes could have nasty unintended consequences.

  • ||

    independent worm obviously doesnt live out in the western part of the country.

  • ||

    So the ATLA finds trial lawyers' reputation so bad they want to change their name to Justice League of America?

    That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and the same applies to a skunk. You can call your organization People for the American Way, thus implying that anybody you disagree with is unAmerican. Or, you can call it American Association for Justice, implying that anybody who criticizes you is against justice.

    Yet, whatever you call your organization, if your members go around the country extorting people through the courts whose original purpose was to protect them, they are going to despise you whatever you call yourselves.

  • ||

    thoreau:

    The arms manufacturers and merchants were also willing participants, and quite a number of them were unsavory people.

    But they did not cause World War I. They are no more responsible for war than vultures are responsible for the corpses they feed on.

    They may be disgustings,but they are a good preview of what Libertopia would be like. People to take their grievances to court whether right or wrong and lawyers eager to take them on, because that's where the money is.

    See how many libertarians are calling for tort reform. Translation GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO SOMETHING. GOVERMENT should decide the upper limit of damages. GOVERNMENT should decide what pleas have merit and punish those who do.

    Libertopia, with no GOVERNMENT to cap awards or determine that a lawsuit is frivolous, and with no regulation of any activity, except the post-facto remedy of civil suits, would be a tort lawyer's paradise.

  • ||

    Considering that lawyers make the laws, I think they are culpable for catch-22 messes we are find to often find ourselves in.

    Specifically:
    * The inability to accept personal risk
    * The ability to avoid responsibility for personal choices
    * Their being consciously trained to obfuscate facts so as to avoid any semblance of justice
    * In the hated Bill O'Reilly's terms, there is nobody in power looking out for you

    Lawyers are natural to despise as their loyalties are usually based on their wallet. While I don't want to get rid of them, I do desire a system that keeps them at bay. There are few, if any, check and balances.

  • ||

    Regarding:

    Without the laws, the lawyers would not make those arguments,.... - Adriana

    This is a simplistic reading of the situation. Much, if not most, of the law of torts arises from court cases and the subsequent appeals of the resulting verdicts. Most people have a distorted view of how much law is legislated, compared to how much evolves. The lawyers of the ATLA stamp have been on a decades-long project intended to rewrite the old standards regarding who can sue, over what, and what standards of liability and evidence are proper. From time to time state legislatures or Congress have tried to ratchet back some of these changes (did your state pass any legislation limiting pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice suits, and did it survive court challenges?), but it is an unfortunate fact that members of the bar are represented in our legislatures well out of proportion to their percentage of the general population, and for those representatives who aren't lawyers there are always big campaign donations available. Especially noxious are the shysters who win huge class action settlements that net cash for the law firm, and near-bupkis for the members of the class. $X-off coupons for air travel get awarded to the class suing the airlines, which many members may never use, while the lawyers that none but a few of them had any idea of hiring get their bank accounts stuffed. Once flush, these mouthpieces proceed to use Buckley v. Valeo to outspend their opponents on their way to the Senate or the Governor's chair.

    ....and without sympathetic juries,they would not bring those cases to trial. - Adriana

    The craft of picking a jury designed to be immune to logic, basic science and statistics has advanced quite a bit too, and that's no accident. The lawyers pay big bucks to "jury consultants" to, essentially, rig the game. I got bounced from a jury panel in a personal injury case because I admitted that I thought the opinions of an M.D. would be more expert than that of an osteopath. Plainly, the plaintiff had a pet expert O.D. who was going to claim that whatever fender-bender the "victim" had been in had caused injuries that osteopathy had revealed, which medicine would not verify. Hooey! I'd probably be held in contempt if they had asked me about the back-crackers who the O.D.s don't let into their club, the chiropractors. But I digress.

    Kevin

  • ||

    kevrob:

    All those factors you cite, the creation of precedent, the rewriting of standards, jury manipulation, etc. etc., why is it only one side's lawyers that use them? Do the worthy defendants hire incompetent lawyers who cannot rewrite standards, create precedent or manipulate a jury? Or do you notice those things when the side that you favor loses?

    Or maybe those tactics only work when they agree with society's attitudes toward certain issues. If they run counter to popular prejudices they are of limited usefulness.

  • ||

    Adriana-

    I suspect that attitudes toward risk play a big part, but there's another factor to consider:

    Neither lawyer makes any money if the plaintiff doesn't make the first move. And the plaintiff won't make the first move if he doesn't think he has at least some chance of winning. Even if the plaintiff's attorney is working on one of those deals where he only makes money if he wins, he has to have at least some chance of success in order to make the case worth taking a risk on.

    Also, it's to the civil defense lawyer's benefit for his clients to feel threatened. As I understand it, any time a boss is "running something by our lawyers", those lawyers are collecting a fee for rendering their expert advice. The more threatened somebody feels, the more likely he is to come to his lawyers and pay for their advice on how to avoid a lawsuit.

    So, given the incentives facing the defense side of the tort bar, it makes perfect sense to me if one side has been far more aggressive than the other in trying to get precedents set.

    Of course, this is all speculation on my part. I'm not an insider. Maybe I'm totally wrong. But it seems rather naive to wonder why the defendants' lawyers would seek precedents that render their future services unnecessary.

  • ||

    Along the lines of what I'm saying, what do criminal defense attorneys think about drug legalization? Is there a groundswell of support for it among criminal defense attorneys?

    Given the number of drug arrests in this country, I'd imagine that legalization would be very popular among their clients, and so people who need a criminal defense lawyer wouldn't shun a lawyer who supported legalization. And since criminal defense lawyers aren't exactly popular, it's not like they have much of a reputation to lose among the general public.

    But let's think about it: All of those drug arrests must add up to an awful lot of work for criminal defense attorneys. It may not be the most profitable work, but it's surely steady work. No matter what sort of business you're in, there's nothing like a reliable stream of small jobs to hold you over between big jobs.

    No doubt there are criminal defense lawyers who support legalization, but I suspect that we'll never see a massive groundswell of pro-legalization activity among the criminal defense bar. The incentives simply aren't there.

  • ||

    thoreau:

    You said

    "But it seems rather naive to wonder why the defendants' lawyers would seek precedents that render their future services unnecessary."

    Kind of the Kim Hubbard's advice "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut."

    That would start a consideration that self-interest has limited usefulness when it comes to having a livable community.

    (I suspect that many libertarians see self-interests as dewy eyed nature enthusiasts see nature: i.e. they forget that mosquittoes, ticks, burrowing worms, scabies, etc. etc. etc. are all part of Nature and its wisdom)

  • ||

    Adriana-

    Exactly. I don't want to assume that the litigious nature of our society is all because of a conspiracy by the lawyers who represent defendants in tort cases. But it wouldn't shock me in the least if they have been less than ardent in trying to set precedents that render their future services unnecessary. And it wouldn't shock me in the least if some of them encourage their clients to worry about lawsuits. "You know, I can think of lots of ways that your business could get sued. You want me to review your employee handbook? In fact, maybe I should examine your product catalog too. You wouldn't believe some of the things that other clients have been sued over. Don't worry, I'll cut you a good deal on the hourly rate..."

    I don't know for sure that it happens, but I offer it as speculation. Maybe somebody in the know can tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree?

  • ||

    thoreau:

    Of course the lawyers want to get more work, not less

    You know the old joke? "In this town there was one lawyer and he barely survived, another lawyer moved in, and both got rich."

    Kind of gives you pause when some committed libertarians say "why bring regulation? if people are adversely affected they can sue"? They seem to have this strange view of human nature that only reasonable people will seek redress this way, for real harm done.

    I suspect that libertarianism is the equivalent of nature purists "If we did not have so many chemicals we'd be a lot healthier". Substitute goverment actions for chemicals and you have the mindset.

    No wonder libertarians dislike Greens so much, since they are their mirror image.

  • ||

    Adriana, I just want to say that you are a genuinely interesting contributor on this forum. I don't always agree with you, but you mix it up. When you dissent you usually have an interesting argument, and I cannot recall any time that you've gotten insulting, engaged in purity pissing contests, or done something just to prove that you know more than the rest of us.

    Please don't go away.

  • ||

    The craft of picking a jury designed to be immune to logic, basic science and statistics has advanced quite a bit too, and that's no accident. The lawyers pay big bucks to "jury consultants" to, essentially, rig the game.

    Depends on who you believe. The "jury consultants" are certainly doing a good job of promoting this belief, to justify their astronomical hourly rates. Jury consultants are, in my estimation, nothing more than snake oil salesmen.

    As in every other walk of life, there are folks who buy the snake oil. Lawyers are not immune to this, and they buy it plenty.

    And without really wanting to be snarky, it doesn't take ANY effort to pick a jury full of people who don't grasp logic, understand science, or understand statistics. That's about 90% of the population you just described.

    What people see, and don't like, about the legal system seems to me to pretty much mirror what they see and don't like about society, or the human race, in general. (To echo a comment made by someone, possibly Adriana, above).

  • ||

    iw:

    I dunno if what the consultants are selling works any better than what an experienced litigator would end up with by a seat-of-his-pants voir dire, but somebody thinks it works, or they wouldn't be doing the business they do.

    Adriana:

    I'm sure the defense lawyers use the same tools as the ATLA types, but as thoreau points out, the escalation usually starts out on the plaintiff's side. Frex, in the past 50 years many types of activity that didn't used to be actionable have become so, completely independent of any changes in legislation. A good example would be "sexual harassment", which was a creative application of anti-discrimination law. It took a good many attempts by the plaintiff's bar to get a judge to allow the first of such claims to even get a hearing. This is a process issue. Noting that one didn't use to be able to sue over such behavior isn't to say that it shouldn't be curbed. The question becomes, would it be better to handle this as a criminal, rather than a civil matter (as x-degree sexual assault and/or extortion, perhaps.) A hundred years ago, dirty talk "with a lady present" might have gotten one thrashed, or hauled in for public obscenity. The sexual harrassment decisions have, in an odd way, reinstituted a Victorian ethic as a follow-on to the relaxation of such standards by both the move to freer speech and sexual liberation of the second half of the 20th century. Should we have reached this new consensus via court decisions, or would it have been better to have our elected representatives hash things out?

    Some of the changes in legal theory come out of the law schools, most (in)famously the marxian "Critical Legal Studies" movement, that intended to use lawyering as a tool of class warfare. I don't keep up with this stuff the way I used to when I was a polisci student, but my gut instinct is that if you want to know what people will be arguing about as outrages of the legal system in 5-10 years, go see what the profs and the law review staffs are dreaming up now.

    Kevin

  • ||

    If more lawyers were like Atticus Finch, there would be less problems in this country to begin with. Alas, idyllic fictional characters are rarely mirrored in the real world. So many politicians and lawyers are crooks at heart, and changing the name is a sly con, to make the US believe that they support something that they don't without the right amount of $ being involved.

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