No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Pervertion of Justice in America

Ralph Nader, Author, Wesley J. Smith, With
Ralph Nader, Author, Wesley J. Smith, With Random House (NY) $25.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42972-2
Paperback - 460 pages - 978-0-375-75258-2
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Corporate attorneys are at the center of trends that have increased corporate power in the past 20 years, declare consumer crusader and 1996 presidential candidate Nader and lawyer Smith (coauthors of Winning the Insurance Game). Their book is rambling but important, as it uses case studies to illustrate what they see as unfair situations and potential avenues for reform. For example, confidential settlements in injury cases deprive others from safety warnings; judges can refuse such settlements, and some states have begun passing anti-secrecy laws. Though the American Bar Association recommends that one-third of the members of state ethics boards be non-lawyers, that goal is mostly ignored, and disciplinary boards are notably lax in punishing lawyers who obstruct opponents, destroy evidence or overbill. In strong words, Nader and Smith attack tort reform proposals that would limit manufacturers' liability, calling them ""tort deform"" measures that would further protect corporations to the detriment of individual consumers. But they don't acknowledge that in some cases--such as the way it can distort medical care--our tort system does need reform. Along with political reforms, the authors find hope in efforts by Harvard Law School alumni to form the Appleseed Foundation, which will establish new centers for law and justice that focus on systemic change, not just legal aid for individuals. Author tour. (Oct.)
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