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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lawyers, Can't Live With 'Em ...

I know, you want to finish the sentence "can live without 'em."

So those of you who have preconceived notions that lawyers have it one up on the rest of you, and for no good reason, will find confirmation of sorts in this interview by Prof. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit with his colleague, Prof. Ben Barton, author of The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System,

Here is the jacket summary of the book:
Virtually all American judges are former lawyers. This book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law. There are many reasons for this bias, some obvious and some subtle. Fundamentally, it occurs because - regardless of political affiliation, race, or gender - every American judge shares a single characteristic: a career as a lawyer. This shared background results in the lawyer-judge bias. The book begins with a theoretical explanation of why judges naturally favor the interests of the legal profession and follows with case law examples from diverse areas, including legal ethics, criminal procedure, constitutional law, torts, evidence, and the business of law. The book closes with a case study of the Enron fiasco, an argument that the lawyer-judge bias has contributed to the overweening complexity of American law, and suggests some possible solutions.
The interview is even more interesting than the jacket summary, and is available at PJTV for free, although you do have to register.

Update:  YouTube version of interview now available:

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  1. I should be looking for a good law school. Suggestions?

  2. I was going to finish the title of the post with "can't set 'em on fire". What do I win?

  3. Lawyers, can't live with 'em, can't drown them in a bucket. Legally, that is.

  4. I've heard it said that a judge is a law student with the ability to correct his own papers.

  5. There is an even more insidious bias, IMO.
    The lawyers as law makers, insure that no bill can be interpreted without thousands of lawyers, and that every citizen needs a lawyer to determine what the simplest sentence in any law says. This doubles/tripples down, because one starts at the county council level with lawyers, move to the State level with more lawyers writing more unreadable stuff and moves to the US Congress where the ultimate ununderstandable garbage is written,i.e. the Obamacare fraudage. So unreadable the members of the House and Senate couldn't even read it, but they passed it.

  6. Actually Prof. Jacobson I prefer to finish it the way Tom Arnold did in the movie "True Lies" (of course, he was talking about women)… "Lawyers (or women), can't live with 'em--can't kill 'em"

  7. Cheney had the right idea, but his aim was a bit off.

    (sorry, Sarah, you'll probably be blamed for this)

  8. A. Dumas,

    How typical. Cheney's aim was off, so people blame Sarah Palin!

  9. ... but we can live without 'em.

  10. I've always said that it's the only profession I can think of that has the ability to create demand for its own services.

  11. It's probably a safe bet to assume at this point that we have more people in law school than in med school. This country is almost manufacturing lawyers while Washington continues to drown this country in laws.
    Maybe that is the 21st century economy Obama is truly talking about: "If I continue to sign 2,000 page bills which are laced with thousands of new laws, we will need more lawyers to interpret everything. Yes! We are increasing the demand for jobs, so unemployment will eventually go down because everyone will need to be a lawyer!"
    I just recently graduated from Auburn University. It is a safe assumption that between a fourth and a third of all my friends are currently in law school.


  12. Before we get to socialized "single-payer" health care, we need socialized "single-payer" legal care!

    In the brave new world these lawyers have busily been preparing for us, everyone must have a constitutional right to a lawyer!

    I mean, if the Supremes can invent a right to free defense counsel for criminal matters, it's not even a logical stretch to see that this affirmative right must include civil representation as well!

    Then, once we've granted everyone an affirmative right to an attorney paid for by yours and my taxes, we can start talking about cutting costs with "the lawyer fix" and slashing legal reimbursements and eliminating subpoena fees and limiting discovery rights, and refusing fees for "routine" depositions and court appearances. And, no, you won't be allowed to keep your own lawyer. One will be appointed for you.

    It's time to start putting lawyers on the same hellish bureaucratic treadmill they've put everyone else on for the last 50+ years.

  13. This is similar to the reason that state run schools are inherently pro-state and not the independent dispensers of knowledge they like to think of themselves as. The idea that the government is somehow more fair or more independent than any other body with a more traditional incentives is the biggest mass brainwashing that persists today.