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Poultry in motion

From a mini-profile ("Fringe Player: The Case Broker" by Jonathan Moxey) in The American Lawyer's 2004 supplement Plaintiff Power (this portion not online, purchase):

An East Texas lawyer once told Robert Steinberg that there are two kinds of civil litigators: chicken catchers and chicken pluckers. Steinberg is a chicken catcher.

Outside of East Texas, that means he's a referral lawyer. He makes his living signing up clients and then sending their cases to other lawyers -- the chicken pluckers -- to litigate. Steinberg hasn't been active in the courtroom since 2001. ...

Steinberg describes himself as a "good-looking guy who speaks well" and says he had a face-lift in January. He spends heavily on advertising -- $1.6 million in the last two years -- and says he signs up several hundred clients a year. Then he farms them out for a split of the fee.
When he meets his clients, he says, he admits up front that he won't be the lawyer handling their cases. He says that most of them don't care and that he's never been asked about how legal fees would be divided.
No word about whether he explains to them the chicken metaphor, and their role in it. More: Legal Ethics Forum (Feb. 26) has a discussion of the Texas Supreme Court's efforts to rein in the Lone Star State's unusually wide-open fee-splitting rules.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.