For those of you who are new to our site -- and new to the issue of civil justice reform -- I wanted to make you aware of two brief and easy-to-digest yet thorough backgrounders on the issue.
The first is a paper published last month by the Washington Legal Foundation , authored by Jim Wootton, a private attorney with Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw and formerly the president of the Institute for Legal Reform at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Entitled "How We Lost Our Way: The Road to Civil Justice Reform," the paper offers a good, concise history of the common law of tort and how it evolved into the civil justice system we have today. The paper covers the de-professionalization of law, the class action problem, the activities of state attorneys general, and magic jurisdictions. The paper concludes with Wootton's thoughts on reform.
The second paper I want to highlight is one that we at the Center for Legal Policy published in April, written by Steven Hantler, the Assistant General Counsel of DaimlerChrysler and a leading advocate for tort reform. Hantler's paper, "The Seven Myths of Highly Effective Plaintiffs' Lawyers," was expanded from a speech he had delivered the previous summer. The paper examines trial lawyer "myths," e.g., that the so-called “liability crisis” is an invention of corporations eager to limit their liability for wrongful conduct, that corporations settle lawsuits to cover up their wrongdoing, and that the trial lawyer is outgunned and outclassed by powerful and resourceful corporations. The paper is filled with wonderful, well-documented facts, and it makes a compelling case that our civil justice system is badly in need of reform.