Trial Lawyers at the Public Trough

Legal Newsline has an interesting story today on President Bush’s executive order forbidding federal agencies from hiring trial lawyers on contingency. Bonus: it quotes our work on the 1998 master tobacco settlement.

Some attorneys general most known for the use of outside attorneys being paid on a contingency fee basis are Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and West Virginia’s Darrell McGraw.

In the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the Competitive Enterprise Institute says trial lawyers received $14 billion nationally in attorneys’ fees under a $246 billion-plus settlement. The organization also says Blumenthal steered $65 million in fees to his own allies and the associates of former Gov. John Rowland, later convicted of corruption in an unrelated matter.

It adds that Blumenthal went “through the motions” of soliciting letters from firms interested in representing the state in the lawsuit. Of the four he selected, one was his former firm, another’s partner was married to a partner in the first firm and a managing partner in the third served as counsel to Rowland.

Hans, of course, blogged on the executive order yesterday.