Recent Events

Professor Brickman was the featured speaker at a Yale Political Union debate on November 17, 2015.  The YPU, the nation's oldest and largest student debating society, states that throughout its history, "it has hosted numerous national and international thinkers and politicans."  Professor Brickman presented his argument for Disincentivizing Tort Litigation based upon his book, Lawyer Barons:  What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America (Cambridge Press, 2011).

Professor Brickman testified before a U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law at a hearing on H.R. 526, the “Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015” on February 4, 2015. 

Professor Brickman has published a book titled LAWYER BARONS: WHAT THEIR CONTINGENCY FEES REALLY COST AMERICA (Cambridge University Press, Feb. 2011). This book distills over 20 years of his research on contingency fees.  It is a broad and deep inquiry into how contingency fees -- which provide the “key to the courthouse” for injured litigants -- also distort our civil justice system and endanger democratic government.  While the public senses that lawyers manipulate the justice system to serve their own ends, few are aware of the high costs that come with contingency fees.  This book sets out to change that, providing a window into the seamy underworld of contingency fees that the bar and the courts not only to tolerate but even protect and nurture.  Professor Brickman states that his intent in writing the book is fourfold: 1) to demonstrate how  contingency fees have empowered lawyers to shape our civil justice system in ways that further their financial interests while relegating the interests of the polity to secondary importance; 2) to point out a compelling need to provide the same intense scrutiny as we are now focusing on our havoc-wreaking financial institutions, on the effects of, and the costs imposed by, the financial incentives for tort lawyers and class actions lawyers to file lawsuits; 3) to provide citizens and policymakers with the knowledge to make informed judgments about how fundamental allocations of power between the branches of government have been recast by contingency fee lawyers in the course of collaborative efforts with judges to enlarge the scope of liability of the tort system and the role of judges in allocating resources; and 4) to offer meaningful corrective measures that are politically feasible and protective of both consumers of legal services and of society.

Though contingency fees have been hotly debated among legal experts over the last several decades, this is the first book that analyzes the costs imposed by contingency fees and challenges the view of torts scholars that tort lawyers’ profits, though great, are socially beneficial.  Contrary to a broad consensus in contemporary legal scholarship, Professor Brickman argues that the level of financial incentives available to lawyers to litigate do, in fact, distort the objectives of our civil justice system and impose other unconscionable social costs.  Click here for the Table of Contents.  Click here for Book Cover. For the review by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in the New York Law Journal, Jan. 27, 2011 at 6, click here.  For the review by Daniel Fisher, Senior Editor, Forbes, Feb. 17, 2011, click here.
Further details about the book can be accessed via the following links:
Letter to the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Requesting an Opinion Declaring that the Practice of Plaintiffs' Counsels Negotiating Fees Directly with the Adversary To the Potential Detriment of the Client or Class is Unethical.