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Chamber lobbying: before the meme begins...

An AP story begins:

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce focused on neutralizing the power of plaintiff trial lawyers, spent more than $9 million lobbying the federal government in the third quarter, according to a recent disclosure form.

Wow. $9 million is a lot of money, especially in a season when there was no broad liability-reform legislation moving through Congress or likely to do so. The poor trial lawyers, facing such an onslaught!

Read on, however, and you'll find the story's first sentence was badly misleading:

The institute lobbied on judicial salaries, consumer product safety, attorney-client privilege, arbitration, drug labeling and other issues.

That conveys a very different picture: it seems the Chamber tackles a wide range of issues important to business legal departments, and is not just "focused on neutralizing the power of plaintiff trial lawyers". On the first issue mentioned, judicial salaries, the Chamber's position may in fact coincide with the position taken by many or most plaintiff's lawyers. Nor do disputed changes in the handling of attorney-client privilege necessarily track plaintiff-defendant divisions. Revisions of the laws on consumer product safety and drug labeling are mostly seen in the business world as regulatory issues, even if they do have some non-trivial spillover into litigation strategy. Only one of the five issues listed -- arbitration -- presents itself as a classic showdown between trial lawyers and their adversaries.

But just wait. Some in the litigation lobby will shortly be asserting that the Chamber spends $3 million a month to fight trial lawyers. That won't make it true, though.

P.S. Yep. Just as predicted, it didn't take long.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.