The Plaintiffs' Lawyer: Institutional Constraints and Ethical Challenges
This course uses a study of plaintiffs' lawyers as a vehicle to explore many of the most controversial and important issues at the intersection of tort law, civil procedure, and legal ethics. Specifically, in this course, we will study who personal injury lawyers are, how they find clients, how they fund litigation, and how they usher complex cases to conclusion. In so doing, we will address: the role and regulation of lawyers, the use and abuse of the contingency fee, the legality and normative consequences of solicitation and attorney advertising, the propriety of secret settlements and expansive protective orders, the rise and impact of "alternative litigation finance," and the vexing issues posed by class actions, aggregate actions, consolidated actions, and multidistrict litigations (MDLs). The final segment of the course will involve a series of case studies, where students will test their knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and have the opportunity to see the course's themes echoed and expressed in recent real-world controversies. Importantly, though the course is nominally focused on "the plaintiffs' lawyer," it does not just equip students to practice on one side of the "v." Rather, through our grounded study of legal ethics, advanced civil procedure, and contemporary legal practice, students will acquire tools that will be helpful across all kinds of civil litigation. The final paper will be due shortly after the course's conclusion. Elements used in grading: Class participation, reflection papers, final paper, and group presentation.