Lester Brickman has a new book that criticizes the excesses of tort plaintiffs’ lawyers – LAWYER BARONS: WHAT CONTINGENCY FEES REALLY COST AMERICA. As I say on the back cover, I think it is fascinating and important. Brickman’s work on these issues has been impressive, showing both investigative tenacity and a deep understanding of the interplay between ethics norms and the practicalities of litigation procedure. The book combines muckraking with institutional analysis and reform proposals. I worry that the book may suffer in some quarters from over-identification with political conservatism. It has a forward by Richard Epstein, and Lester is a habitué of conservative think tanks. And the unfortunate sub-title implies a categorical condemnation of contingency fees, which is conventionally a conservative position. Nevertheless, I don’t see how liberal lawyers can be indifferent to the issues he raises or unconcerned about the structural deficiencies of accountability he documents in both individual and aggregate tort litigation. No doubt his arguments are subject to legitimate criticism, but my impression is that liberals are more likely to ignore him then engage him. It would be a shame if visceral protectiveness toward the tort system should deprive the book of the attention it deserves.