Lester Brickman is emeritus professor of law and former acting dean at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he taught Contracts, Land Use Planning, The Legal Ethics of Legal Fees and Current Issues in Professional Responsibility and the Legal Profession. He has written extensively on mass tort litigation and contingency fees and his writings have been cited over 1000 times in treatises, casebooks, scholarly journals, restatements of the law, bar association opinions, litigation reporters, congressional reports and judicial opinions (including the United States Supreme Court, United States Circuit Courts of Appeal, state supreme courts and federal and state appellate and trial courts).
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. His articles and amicus brief on nonrefundable retainers resulted in the banning of their use by the New York Court of Appeals—a holding which 17 state supreme courts have fully adopted and 20 more have effectively adopted. He is a leading authority on contingency fees and his writings on that subject are the basis for an "early offer" proposal co-authored by Professor Brickman and described in a front page story in the New York Times, to realign the contingency fee system with its policy roots and ethical mandates. Distilling 20 years of his research on the underappreciated costs of contingency-fee financing of tort litigation, Professor Brickman published a book titled Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He has written extensively on asbestos litigation and his treatise-length articles and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and subcommittees 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 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's publications may be accessed at lesterbrickman.com.
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 and bankruptcies, contingency fee abuses generally and in tobacco litigation and on the constitutionality of congressional regulation of fees in tobacco litigation. He has been a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States (to devise a plan for an administrative alternative to asbestos litigation and to organize a colloquium to consider that plan); the U.S. Office of Education (on clinical legal education); the Legal Educational Institute of the U.S. Civil Service Commission (as a lecturer on profession responsibility to government attorneys); the National Science Foundation (to provide a research agenda for improving the delivery of legal services to middle class consumers); the Council on Legal Education for Professional Responsibility (to make clinical legal education a regular part of law school education and to devise methods of assessing clinical programs); the Ford Foundation (to investigate the use of legal paraprofessionals and recommend a course of action); the American Bar Association (on specialization in the legal profession); the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (to add law school clinical programs in prosecutors' offices); and the U.S. Office of Legal Services (to evaluate government-funded Legal Services program).
In addition, he has consulted for law firms on matters of legal ethics, fee issues, valuation of tort claims, fiduciary obligation, the lawyer's standard of care, and asbestos bankruptcies. 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.
According to Ranker.com, which publishes a list of "notable or famous U.S. law professors, "Professor Brickman is ranked as the 50th most "famous law professor from the United States." In its ranking of most "famous law professors in the world," Professor Brickman is ranked 90th. Finally, in a ranking of the 5000 most "famous male professors" in the world, Professor Brickman is ranked 2678th. (Those ranked in the top 25 of the top 5000 include Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Albert Einstein, Pope Benedict XVI, Stephen Hawking, Alexander Graham Bell, Ben Bernanke, Carl Sagan, Friedrich Nietzsche, Isaac Asimov, Martin Luther, Woodrow Wilson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cornell West, Adam Smith and Cass Sunstein.)
Professor Brickman is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University (B.S. 1961), the University of Florida Law School (J.D. 1964) and has a Masters in Law degree from the Yale Law School (LL.M. 1965).