Malaise of the Litigation Superpower
Richard L. Marcus
America is the litigation superpower, or at least it seems to think it is. It berates itself for having more lawyers, more laws, and more lawsuits than any other place on earth. As a consequence of this self-perception, over the last generation it has periodically flailed itself for these supposed national characteristics. A prime example of this sort of overstatement is a 1991 report by the President's Council on Competitiveness, headed by the Vice-president, declaring that the USA had 'become a litigious society' in which 'litigation necessarily exacts a terrible toll on the U.S. economy'.1 In that recession-plagued time, the report cited an estimate that 'the average lawyer takes $1 million a year from the
The views expressed herein are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of any other person or organization. I owe a great debt to Faye Jones of the Hastings Law Library for helping me gather data and sources for this essay. I am also indebted to Karen Cannata and Kathleen Shih of the Judicial Council of California for assistance in obtaining and interpreting data on the California state courts. I am also indebted to Tom Willging of the Federal Judicial Center for assistance in identifying and locating statistical information on the federal court system. No doubt there are errors, particularly about numbers, but those are mine alone.