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Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered Americaby Walter Olson
Synopses & Reviews
From Barack Obama (Harvard and Chicago) to Bill and Hillary Clinton (Yale), many of our current national leaders emerged from the rarefied air of the nation's top law schools. The ideas taught there in one generation often shape national policy in the next.
The trouble is, Walter Olson reveals in Schools for Misrule, our elite law schools keep churning out ideas that are catastrophically bad for America. From class action lawsuits that promote the right to sue anyone over anything, to court orders mandating the mass release of prison inmates; from the movement for slavery reparations, to court takeovers of school funding—all of these appalling ideas were hatched in legal academia. And the worst is yet to come. A fast-rising movement in law schools demands that sovereignty over U.S. legal disputes be handed over to international law and transnational courts.
It is not by coincidence, Olson argues, that these bad ideas all tend to confer more power on the law schools' own graduates. In the overlawyered society that results, they are the ones who become the real rulers.
"The latest book from Olson (The Excuse Factory) is part historical overview and part cutting-edge commentary examining corporate case studies and public and tort law with a sharp analysis of the academic system and the internal and external forces shaping its agenda. Law schools mould the future leaders of America, shaping the nation and influencing consensus. Recent legal scholars have infiltrated politics, journalism, and broadcasting, claiming greater authority and creating potentially serious social repercussions. The author explores perceived political bias at Harvard and Yale, their dependence on 'left-tilting philanthropy,' and the tendency of professors to permeate the curriculum with their own values. Additionally, Olson argues, the commercialization of American universities creates markets of intellectual property and a culture of one-upmanship. Often with tongue firmly in-cheek, Olson addresses the 'American disease' of dubious injury claims and product liability lawsuits, the ever-spurious 'recovered memory' litigation, and other legal precedents. This hard-hitting, witty account reveals the effect of law on the individual and the collective and astutely forecasts the future of law reform, in the academy, in politics, and across the globe. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
A fellow with the Cato Institute argues that America has a ruling class of law school graduates who shape government policy, academic legal curricula, and public opinion. Olson alleges that human rights and other causes of this elite are actually bids for greater centralized power. Examples cited include liberal opposition to recent conservative Supreme Court nominees (themselves law school grads!), courts acting as reform legislators, and "the litigation explosion"--the title of one of his books. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
"Perhaps America's leading authority on over-litigation". That's what Investor's Business Daily has called Walter Olson, whose books and writings have helped set the terms of debate about the excesses of the nation's civil justice system. Olson's book The Litigation Explosion was reviewed favorably in the New York Times by the late Chief Justice Warren Burger and subsequently cited by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a major Supreme Court opinion; the Washington Post dubbed Olson an "intellectual guru of tort reform". The Excuse Factory, his book on litigation in the workplace, was met with accolades everywhere from The American Lawyer ("engaging, witty and provocative") and the London Times ("riveting") to the A.B.A. Journal ("wittily scathing") and The American Spectator ("devastating and eloquent"). His new book The Rule of Lawyers has already been hailed in the American Lawyer as "wry, amusing" as well as "provocative and enjoyable".
A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the think tank in New York City, Mr. Olson is a frequent contributor to the magazine Reason, and his writing appears regularly in such publications as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has appeared numerous times before Congress, federal agencies and state lawmakers and has approximately 300 broadcast appearances under his belt, including "Crossfire", "MacNeil-Lehrer", "Oprah", "Donahue", and NPR. His website Overlawyered.com, launched in 1999, has won wide acclaim for its mix of entertaining and serious commentary.
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