Settlement That Hurt the Public

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The Principal-Agent Problem with Lawyers and Clients in Settlement

With legal counsel, people ought to get good settlements. I've wondered about that. Lawyer quality varies tremendously, though, and my suspicion is that there are even a lot of good lawyers who aren't good bargainers, even though that is really a lot of what you want a lawyer for. In buying a house, my buyer's broker, who was very good at picking places to show me, gave me poor bargaining advice, and only diffidently. When I was in  a million-dollar lawsuit, my lawyer, who was experienced and wise, just didn't want to advise me on how to bargain or how good the offer was, even though he was on contingency fee.  And one thing that comes up with lawyers on contingency fees is that in "consumer" cases they are usually on a flat fee-- say, 40%-- even though their cost in time and energy is far higher once the the "discovery" process starts, far far higher once trial prep starts, and immense during the trial itself-- so they have a financial incentive to settle early. I think that's why my wise (and fair) lawyer didn't want to sway me-- he knew he had a conflict of interest. 

Mark Steyn's Refusal to Settle

By contrast, Mike had never heard of me - and, if he'd done his due diligence, he'd have known you have to be willing to go all the way with me because I don't settle: My northern free-speech battles ended with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal declining to hear any further cases under the law, and the law itself eventually being repealed by the Canadian Parliament. But, as far as Mann was concerned, I was just some no-name loser doing NR's bidding at the behest of its Koch donors. With National Review gone, taking a decade to get to trial against yet another obscure Canadian loser surely affords Mann far less pleasure.

As for me, I'm generally wary of cases with multiple defendants, and I was particularly doubtful about standing in the dock with NR before an impressionable jury. For almost a decade, I have stood on the truth - and Rich Lowry and his guys never did, not in their court filings , but instead tossed spaghetti of sophistry at the walls hoping a strand or two would stick: Ooh, no, we're not a publisher, just an Internet platform provider like Facebook, open to all; Steyn is nothing to do with us, just a guy who bust into the cockpit and flew the NR plane into the mountain; etc. In the course of his spaghetti-hurling, their awful splapdash lawyer Michael Carvin didn't check nuttin' and, even in his brief to the Supreme Court, got all kinds of things wrong, including putting other people's words into my mouth. I am very relieved that I will not be going into court with him and Lowry.

"Michael E Mann, Loser (Again)," Mark Steyn (2021).