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The Rule of Lawyers
How the New Litigation Elite
Threatens America’s Rule of Law
(Truman Talley Books/St. Martin's ISBN: 0312280858)

By Walter Olson
Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

A timely warning—today's class-action lawyers are fast carving out a new and dangerous role as an unelected fourth branch of government

Big-ticket litigation is a way of life in this country. But something new is afoot—something typified by the $246 billion tobacco settlement, and by courtroom assaults that have followed against industries ranging from HMOs to gunmakers, from lead-paint manufacturers to “factory farms.” Each massive class-action suit seeks to invent new law, to ban or tax or regulate something that elected lawmakers had chosen to leave alone. And each time the new process works as intended, the new litigation elite reaps billions in fees—which they invest in fresh rounds of suits, as well as political contributions.

The Rule of Lawyers asks: Who picks these lawyers, and who can fire them? Who protects the public's interest when settlements get negotiated behind closed doors? Where are our elected lawmakers in all this? The answers may determine whether we slip from the rule of law to the rule of lawyers.

WALTER K. OLSON is the author of The Litigation Explosion and The Excuse Factory. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Olson has written on law and lawyers for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, City Journal, and others. He lives and works in Chappaqua, New York. He is also the founder and editor of Overlawyered.com.

 

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CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR
THE RULE OF LAWYERS

"Anyone in the market for a truly gripping read about tort lawyers should skip Grisham's novel and instead pick up Walter K. Olson's nonfiction book The Rule of Lawyers, a brilliant expose of the way courts are being overwhelmed by mass tort actions. "
—Robert Lenzner
Forbes

"In just ten chapters,
Olson provides a clear,
compelling analysis
of class action litigation and the lawyers who press for it run
amok. As the subtitle implies, the situation has transformed the
justice system into a "just us" system, with the lawyers having
their way, and undermining the rule of law in the U.S. Olson does
a masterful job of presenting the complexities of the legal system
in straightforward, nontechnical language. The Rule of Lawyers is
a very important book: one to be read and shared with others."
—Sunni Maravillosa
Free-Market.net

"By taking on some the favorite cases cited by Nader and Smith— tobacco, gun, breast implant, lead paint and asbestos litigation—Olson demonstrates how trial lawyers are turning themselves into a Fourth, higher, Branch of government, without the constraints democracy imposes on the other branches."
—Duane Freese
Tech Central Station

“While the trial lawyers continue
to prowl for the next big score,
The Rule of Lawyers provides valuable ammunition for those
who march under the banner of legal reform. Perhaps more important, it serves as a wake-up call to those who have long turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the crisis of "jackpot justice" in our courts and the growing influence
of trial lawyers in public office.”
—Eric Shippers
Engage

“Mr. Olson's engaging prose,
for all its charm, is propelled
by a sense of outrage at the abuses he describes: He slams his opponents onto the mat,
lets them rise slightly in a daze and then slams them down
again, round after round.”
—David Price
Wall Street Journal

"Olson's wry, amusing, libertarian take on the increasingly preposterous role that mass tort lawyers have assumed in our society—and in the funding of the Democratic Party—man not only spur many Democrats to reshuffle their standard talking points on those issues, but may even afford them some guilty, cant-piercing pleasures along the way."
—Roger Parloff,
Legal Times

Praise for Walter Olson's first book, The Litigation Explosion:

“From malpractice suits to libel actions, from job discrimination to divorce, suing first and asking questions later has become a way of life in the United States. The Litigation Explosion is the first major exploration of this trend—why it developed, who profits and who loses, and how it can be contained.”
Former Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger,
New York Times
Book Review, 1991