Civil Justice Reform

Downsides of Civil Juries - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Renée Lettow Lerner, Suja Thomas September 25, 2015

As with many things in life and in the law, there are pros and cons. This program will focus on that premise with civil juries. Proponents argue that the civil jury system, with jurors drawn from the general public, represents the values and judgment of the public in individual cases, and that deliberations among those same jurors generally lead to just results. Critics argue that complex cases should be decided by judges or special masters rather than lay jurors who cannot properly comprehend the complexities of some cases, that jurors are more susceptible to what should be unconvincing arguments by particularly persuasive attorneys, or that juries otherwise reach conclusions sometimes not supported by law. There is also concern that verdicts by juries do not permit thorough appeal on the merits. The civil jury has been virtually abolished in every other common law country. Should the system be reexamined? Is it in need of updating? Our experts answered these and other questions.


  • Prof. Renée Lerner, Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
  • Prof. Suja Thomas, Professor, University of Illinois College of Law

Residual Class Action Awards: Cy Pres - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Theodore H. Frank March 21, 2014

gavel money

Cy pres (from the French cy pres comme —“as near as possible”) originated in the trust context, but has more recently been applied to class action litigation, as courts try to determine what to do with sometimes significant amounts of settlement funds remaining after all identified plaintiff awards have been made.  In recent decades, courts have agreed to award such remaining funds to third party recipients who, while not parties to the underlying suits, are deemed worthy by the court.  Sometimes, the courts have selected these third party recipients based on recommendations from the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.  What are the legal underpinnings for such awards to entities or people not party to the underlying case?  What are the policy considerations in making or prohibiting such awards?  These and other questions were discussed by our experts.


  • Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt University Law School
  • Mr. Theodore H. Frank, Founder and President, Center for Class Action Fairness and Adjunct Fellow, Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy

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Young Legal Scholars Paper Presentations - Event Audio/Video

16th Annual Faculty Conference
Andrew Kent, Joshua Kleinfeld, Robert Leider, Aaron Nielson, Ozan Varol, Thomas W. Merrill, Steven G. Calabresi January 09, 2014

Young Legal Scholars Paper Presentations - Event Audio/VideoThe Federalist Society's Faculty Division hosted this panel featuring young legal scholar paper presentations on Saturday, January 4, 2014, during the 16th Annual Faculty Conference.

Young Legal Scholars Paper Presentations
Kent/Surrey Room??
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

  • Prof. Andrew Kent, Fordham University School of Law, "Are Damages Different? Bivens and National Security"
  • Prof. Joshua Kleinfeld, Northwestern University School of Law, "Redressive Justice"
  • Dr. Robert Leider, Law Clerk to the Hon. Diane Sykes, "Federalism and the Military Power of the United States"
  • Prof. Aaron Nielson, BYU Law School, "In Defense of Formal Rulemaking"
  • Prof. Ozan Varol, Lewis & Clark Law School, "Temporary Constitutions"
  • Commenter??Prof. Thomas Merrill, Columbia Law School 
  • Moderator: Prof. Steven Calabresi, Northwestern Law School

Warwick New York Hotel
New York NY

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Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America - Faculty Book Podcast

Faculty Division Podcast 09-12-12 featuring Lester Brickman and Peter Schuck
Lester Brickman, Peter H. Schuck September 11, 2012

Lester BrickmanPeter SchuckLawyer Barons exposes the high but unseen cost of litigation driven by contingency fees, a method of financing that is said to improve access to the courts for personal injury victims with limited means.  Author Lester Brickman argues that there is more to the picture than just improving access, however; that the contingency fee also enables lawyers and judges to collaborate and incentivize litigation to a degree that distorts our civil justice system and imposes other financial and social costs.  

Brickman, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, is joined by critical commenter Peter Schuck, the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale University, discuss the book.