Your current web browser is outdated. For best viewing experience, please consider upgrading to the latest version.

Donation - Other Level

Please use the quantity box to donate any amount you wish. Sign Up to Donate

Contact Heather Mac Donald

Send a question or comment using the form below. This message may be routed through support staff.

Email Article

Password Reset Request

Register


Add a topic or expert to your feed.

Following

Follow Experts & Topics

Stay on top of our work by selecting topics and experts of interest.

Experts
Topics
Project
On The Ground
ERROR
Main Error Mesage Here
More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed
ERROR
Main Error Mesage Here
More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed

Manhattan Institute

search
Close Nav
Share this report on Close

The New American Rule: A First Amendment to the Client's Bill of Rights

report

The New American Rule: A First Amendment to the Client's Bill of Rights

By Richard W. Painter March 1, 2000
Legal ReformOther

The President says that
b2d
consumers of medical services are entitled to a “patient’s bill of rights.” We hear nothing from the President, and little from Congress, however, about consumers of legal services. Patients thus need protection from doctors’ excessive fees and poor services, but clients presumably do not need protection from lawyers. This reasoning is no surprise. The President is a lawyer as are many members of Congress. Very few politicians are doctors.

Lawyers’ clients are supposed to be protected by state ethics codes, but these codes do not adequately protect clients from excessive fees, particularly when lawyers work for contingent fees.2  A lawyer’s fee “must be reasonable” (Model Rule 1.5),3  although trial judges almost never initiate review of contingent fees in cases before them,4  and clients rarely challenge a fee as excessive.5  It does not matter whether a lawsuit is an easy win and for a large amount of money. The lawyer is almost always allowed to charge one-third or more, and plaintiffs’ lawyers usually do.6 

At least the client should get what is paid for: a lawyer devoted entirely to the client’s interests and not to his own. Unfortunately, contingent-fee lawyers sometimes have different risk preferences from those of their clients and can profit from litigation decisions that disadvantage clients.7  Lawyers’ financial interests at times encourage them to take risks that clients would avoid, and at other times to settle too soon so they can move on to the next case. It is true that hourly billing creates conflicts of its own8  and that clients are protected from disloyal lawyering by state ethics codes (the same ethics codes that protect clients from excessive fees). Lawyers thus must provide “competent” representation (Model Rule 1.1)9 and must avoid conflicts between their own interests and those of their clients (Model Rule 1.7(b)).10  Lawyers who deploy litigation strategies and recommend settlements that benefit themselves rather than their clients, however, are usually only discovered and punished in the worst of cases.

READ FULL REPORT

Saved!
Close