Former trial lawyer (and current presidential candidate) John Edwards today published My Plan to Stop Corporate Abuses in the WSJ.  He notes the astonishing disparity between the wealth of corporate insiders and the declining living standards for ordinary workers.  He sums up thus:

The success of our own economy demands that we uphold our country’s values:  fair reward for work and opportunity for all. To meet these goals, we must renew America’s basic bargain with the middle class and remove the stranglehold that entrenched corporate interests have on Washington.

But the rights that Mr. Edwards promises to enact may have no teeth without capable trial lawyers willing and able to enforce the rights in court on a contingent fee basis.  Cases that aim to remedy wrongdoing by corporations — from securities fraud to price-fixing and monopolization to fiduciary breaches of trust — are often unaffordable to ordinary people and small businesses.  They can cost millions of dollars to prosecute, sometimes even tens of millions.   

Mr. Edwards represented, in medical malpractice cases, people who couldn’t have afforded to pay him by the hour.  The contingent fee was essential to them.  It provides the keys to the courthouse.  It often does the same in disputes against (and between) businesses as well.

Barry Barnett
Susman Godfrey L.L.P.

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