Comments on Lawyer Barons

 The Hon. Dennis Jacobs, Chief Judge, 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, N.Y.L.J. Jan. 27 2011 at p. 6, col. 4:  “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.”
 
   Margaret Little, 12 ENGAGE 128 (June 2011):  “No scholar has studied the role of the contingency fee in America more comprehensively than Professor Lester Brickman. He has published a definitive book that . . . sets forth hard and uncomfortable truths about the legal profession and proposes daunting, and important, reforms.”

   Daniel Fisher, FORBES.COM Feb. 17, 2011, available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2011/02/17/contingency-fees-self-regulation-make-lawyering-expensive-for-us:  “Lester Brickman almost single-handedly ripped the lid off of the high-volume processing and questionable legal tactics the asbestos bar has used to pry billions of dollars from manufacturers over the years . . . [H]is book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the modern American tort system actually works.”

   Prof. Richard Epstein, N.Y.U. Law School:  “Brickman is an indefatigable researcher who understands the keys to unlocking the secrets of the tort system.”
 
   John Stossel, Fox Business Anchor:  “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.” 
 
    Prof. William H. Simon, Columbia Law School: “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.”
 
     Prof. Jeffrey O’Connell, Univ. of Virginia 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.” 

     Prof. Peter Schuck, Yale Law School, THE AMERICAN LAWYER, Fall 2011 at 81: “Brickman’s analysis of class action lawyers and their fee-maximizing schemes will be eye-opening for nonspecialists.  Particularly informative is his review of their ploys to enlarge profits, reduce risk, and mislead judges:  defendants’ agreement not to contest the plaintiffs’ contingency fees; overpaid experts who will bless the lawyers’ fees; phony time records and rate calculations; use of contract attorneys; misleading class settlements based on trivial benefits to members and inflated predictions of their take-up rates; undermining of the auctions, intended to protect class members, that select class counsel; and others.

     To his great credit, Brickman engages with the opponents’ arguments on these issues.

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 Legal Newsline (4/30/2010):
“Lester Brickman, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York and widely regarded as the nation’s leading asbestos legal scholar. . . .”

3 Envtl. Ins. Litig.: L. and Prac. Appendix 26A (2009).
“Professor Lester Brickman. . .is a very well known expert on lawyers’ professional responsibility. Since the early 1990s, Brickman has devoted much of his time to asbestos litigation.  He is a prolific and eloquent critic of the present asbestos litigation system.”

The Journal Editorial Report, PBS, November 25, 2005, “Asbestos Litigation.” Available at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4572595706621653202.

In the Matter of Armstrong World Industries, Bankr., E.D. Pa, 00-CV-4471 Transcript of Hearing of May 25, 2006, (Judge Eduardo C. Robreno):
“Dr. Brickman has been shown to be qualified as an expert in the history of asbestos litigation, he has been studying the subject for 15 years, he has published at least seven articles on the subject and has testified three times before congressional committees on asbestos litigation and asbestos bankruptcy and has been qualified by at least two federal judges as an expert on the history of asbestos litigation and he has supplied a full and complete written expert testimony in a third asbestos bankruptcy proceeding.  Therefore, I think that under Rule 702, he is qualified by virtue of skill, education, experience to aid the Court in -- in this case.  
Secondly, the opinions rendered in the report appear to be reliable.  Dr. Brickman relies on sources and data which are recently relied [on] by experts in his field and others have relied upon . . . his opinion. So, I find his opinion to be reliable. . . . 
[P]lacing the issues in this case . . . in the historical context of asbestos litigation and claim settlement, will provide the Court with a greater understanding of the debtor’s future liability. A good deal of the testimony in this case has involved a change in the lay of the land in the last few years and how that will affect the debtor’s future liability.  And . . . I believe that the testimony of Professor Brickman will be helpful to the Court and . . . that his testimony fits well with the facts of the case.”

Parloff, Roger.  Diagnosing For Dollars: A Court Battle Over Silicosis Shines a Harsh Light on Mass Medical Screeners -- the Same People Whose Diagnoses Have Cost Asbestos Defendants Billions. Fortune, June 13, 2005, page 97.
“[Brickman's] prodigiously researched article made his views more difficult to ignore and the evidence surfacing in . . . [the silica MDL] now takes him a giant step closer to vindication.” 

Glater, Jonathan D.  Companies Get Weapon in Injury Suits: Many Silica-Damage Plaintiffs Also Filed Claims Over Asbestos. New York Times, February 2, 2005, Section C, page 1, Column 2.
“According to prepared testimony by Lester Brickman . . . who will appear at today’s hearing, ‘As with asbestos, the tragedy of silica exposure is being transformed into an enormous money-making machine in which baseless claims predominate.’”

Liptak, Adam. Ethical Questions Raised on Legal Fee From Widow.  THE NEW YORK TIMES, August 28, 2004, Section A, page 8, Column 5:  “Lester Brickman, an expert on contingent fees at Cardozo Law School, said Mr. Dowd's conduct was both questionable and common. ‘The fundamental problem,’ Professor Brickman said, ‘is the zero-sum accounting scam. Contingency-fee lawyers take the position that all claims are worth zero and that they are responsible for every dollar they recover. In fact, claims have value before lawyers add value to them.’”

Taylor, Stuart Jr. Asbestos Litigation: Evidence of Massive Corruption? NATIONAL JOURNAL, January 3, 2004, page 8.
"Brickman's empirical research is so massive, his scholarship so meticulous and his 526 footnotes so crammed with compelling evidence, that his article should shift the burden of proof in public debate to those who defend the legitimacy of the asbestos-claims industry.”

In Re: Sulzer Hip Prosthesis and Knee Prosthesis Liability Litigation, 290 F.Supp.2d 840, at 850 (2003) (Judge Kathleen McDonald O'Malley):  “Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Professor Lester Brickman, a leading commentator in this area, explains that the “ethical justification” for contingency fee agreements is that “the lawyer's risk of receiving no fee ... merits compensation in and of itself; bearing the risk entitles the lawyer to a commensurate risk premium.” Brickman, Contingent Fees Without Contingencies: Hamlet Without the Prince of Denmark? 37 U.C.L.A.L. Rev. 29, 70 (Oct. 1989). The necessary corollary to this observation is that “charging a contingent fee grossly disproportionate to any realistic risk of nonrecovery would amount to charging a ‘clearly excessive’ fee.” 37 U.C.L.A.L. Rev. at 71.”

Agusta & Ross v. Trancamp Contracting Corp.,751 N.Y.S.2d 155, at 158 (Civil Court, Queens County, November 21, 2002) (Judge Charles J. Markey, J.):  “The leading experts in the United States on permissible fee arrangements by lawyers are Professor Lester Brickman, Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law and legal ethics expert, and Professor Lawrence A. Cunningham, Professor of Law and Business at Boston College. Their joint writings have been approvingly cited and relied upon by courts of other jurisdictions in decisions discussing what fees lawyers may permissibly recover for their time and services.”

Liptak, Adam. Court Has Dubious Record as a Class-Action Leader, New York Times, August 15, 2002, Section A, page 14, Column 5: “‘If there were an award for the most abusive class-action settlement of the decade, if not the century, this settlement would be an odds-on favorite to gain the prize,’ Lester Brickman, a law professor at Cardozo University who is an expert on how lawyers are paid, wrote in a 50-page study of the case.”