Center for America

Speaker's Resource: 5. Plaintiffs Bar, p 3



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Key Reference Citations (KRC)


Plaintiffs’ Bar and the Media:  Who’s Using Whom?

  • "Lawsuits are no longer tried exclusively in a courtroom. They are also tried in the court of public opinion where customers, shareholders, and potential jurors sit in judgment."  ... "Through massive, coordinated public opinion campaigns and other strategies, the trial bar has fundamentally changed the litigation landscape in ways that threaten American companies."  (KRC: Hantler, "Trial by Newswire", p. 16; and, "New Core Competencies ...", p. 19)

  • "It is no accident that polls show the American public has a high level of distrust for corporations—a phenomenon that predates recent corporate scandals. It is not by happenstance that people believe that companies place profits ahead of safety and honesty. And it is no mere coincidence that, primed with this misinformation, juries are all too willing to vote for eye-popping damage awards. Make no mistake: This is a well-orchestrated public relations campaign by the trial bar and its surrogates—self anointed consumer and safety advocates—to undermine public confidence in corporations and distort our legal system." (KRC: Hantler, "New Core Competencies ...", p. 19)

  • "Most instances of mass tort and industry-wide litigation thus proceed as parallel campaigns inside and outside the courtroom, with the outside part – directed by trial lawyers and their allies at the press and public opinion – often the more important."  (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p.17)

  • “In most big litigation campaigns these days, the ginning up of publicity damaging to the targeted defendants is as vital a part of the lawyers’ efforts as anything that goes on in court”. (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p.152)

  • “The press plays a particularly powerful role in client recruitment and consciousness raising.” (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p.154)

  • “The implant affair drove home an important lesson: Publicity skillfully managed by trial lawyers and their allies, especially where juries and the public can be kept sufficiently confused about the state of the science, can fuel a mass tort despite weakness on the facts, the law, or both. And in many mass torts, the publicity campaign outside the courtroom was to prove at least as important in shaping the outcome as any ruling handed down by a judge.” (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p.17)

  • Plaintiffs' attorneys regularly attempt to shape the climate of public opinion so that business defendants will seek to settle lawsuits for a premium, rather than risk further damage to their reputation and/or financial standing. For those cases that don't get settled, the news media help shape the mindset of the jury pool such that, when lawyers make their case in court, juries nod their heads in recognition of what they heard during the media campaign.  (KRC: Hantler, "Trial by Newswire", p. 16)

Lobbying Efforts

  • "Fortune, which publishes periodic rankings of lobby clout, has ranked trial lawyers among the top half dozen most powerful lobbies in Washington, ahead of the AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, government employees, the bankers, the doctors, the real estate community, organized teachers, and the entertainment industry. (KRC: Olson, The Rule of Lawyers, p. 266)

  • The trial lawyer industry spends millions to buy influence in Washington. The trial lawyers’ political action committee funneled nearly $3 million into federal elections in 2002, making it the third largest donor. 90 cents out of every $1.00 went to Democrats.  (CFA, Fast Facts on the Litigation Lottery, 2005, p. 2)

  • Millions more come from individual lawyers and their firms. Since 1990, the litigation industry has dumped more than $470 million into federal campaigns. (CFA, Fast Facts on the Litigation Lottery, 2005, p. 2)

  • "At the same time the trial bar works to twist the civil justice system to its benefit, it also operates an equally effective campaign to block common sense legal reforms in legislatures across the country. And even where reforms are enacted, the trial bar works to undermine them through a judicial nullification strategy. It accomplishes this by investing millions to lobby and elect legislators and judges who will protect the status quo. The result of this is a civil justice system that fails to accomplish its twin functions of compensation and deterrence."  (KRC: Hantler, "New Core Competencies ...", p. 21)

  • "Underwriting such [judicial] campaigns has been a key tactic in preserving friendly judicial philosophies and rewarding judges congenial to expansive tort law. This notion of “justice for sale” is a serious threat to judicial independence and the rule of law."  (KRC: Manhattan Institute, Trial Lawyers,  Inc., p. 21)

  • While Trial Lawyers, Inc. has used its used political contributions to buy influence in Washington and in state capitals, its operators continue to rely on alliances with so-called consumer groups to gain favorable media attention and win the public relations battle on many tort issues. By collaborating with advocacy organizations and even creating some of its own groups, Trial Lawyers, Inc. has successfully portrayed itself as a defender of the little guy – obscuring the huge revenues the industry reaps from expanding civil justice activity, ultimately at the expense of ordinary citizens.  (KRC: Manhattan Institute, Trial Lawyers,  Inc., p. 21)

The Rule of Lawyers:

 A Special Audio Interview

with Walter K. Olson and Steven B. Hantler


Play Interview - Windows   Play Interview - Other Players


Walter K. Olson's latest book, The Rule of Lawyers (St. Martin's, 2003) has been hailed everywhere from Barron's (a "marvelous combination of irony, insight and outrage") and Forbes ("truly gripping" and "brilliant") to The American Lawyer ("wry, amusing", "provocative and enjoyable").


In this 28-minute interview, Andrew Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst of the FOX News Channel, hosts a lively discussion with Walter and Steve Hantler, Chrysler LLC, about the book, its revelations about the tactics of the trial bar and how the business community can respond. 


Under insightful questioning from Napolitano, Olson and Hantler address such topics as why and how the trial bar uses its "playbook" to create pressure on corporations to drive down stock price and coerce exorbitant settlements, how the trial bar influences judicial appointments, and what companies are likely to be the next targets of the trial bar.



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Please Note:  The material presented in this Speaker's Resource has been collected from a wide variety of sources.  You are welcome to use this material for quotations and factual material in your speeches, presentations and articles.  To the best of our ability, we have provided original citations so that you can document the comments you use.  If you become aware that any of the citations or facts presented in this collection are inaccurate or outdated by newer information, please send an email to to tell us so that we can update this material.  The materials cited are generally copyrighted by the original author and when you quote from their material, you should include the original attribution to acknowledge their role as authors.  Original material © 2005 American Justice Partnership.