Personal Injury Lawyers
Attorney Van O'Steen

Legal Costs Need Re-evaluating

Van O'Steen

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I agree with the proposition that our country is an overlitigated society. As a lawyer, I have seen the problem firsthand. Too many resources are wasted resolving legitimate disputes. Even a wealthy nation cannot afford the direct and indirect costs associated with unnecessarily lengthy and complex lawsuits.

Many critics of our legal system cite the large number of lawsuits as evidence of an institution out of control. It is on this point that I begin to part company with the critics. The problem with our legal system does not rest in the fact that people use it. The flaw lies elsewhere.

Admittedly, our legal system is too complex and encumbered by technical rules that often are counterproductive. This complexity contributes substantially to the cost of using it. Although the nature of professional services has inherent limitations, the challenge is to simplify rules and procedures. This may have the effect of eliminating lawyers from many disputes and minimizing their involvement in others.

Another frustration for consumers is the difficulty of determining in advance the cost of legal services.

When you buy clothing, you decide what brands and how many items you will buy. You start out with some knowledge of the marketplace. Most markets work this way. When you buy legal services, however, the seller (the lawyer) generally determines what type and how much service you will buy. For example, how many clients know whether two hours or ten hours of legal research are needed, or whether research is required at all?

Shopping for legal services may improve your understanding of what a particular problem involves.

We also should try to reverse the financial incentives for lawyers that may have the effect of prolonging lawsuits. Organized systems for resolving disputes are essential for a civilized society. Conflict is a natural byproduct of a complex world. If we are to maintain some sense of harmony and equality, we must provide a method for impartial, predictable and orderly resolution of disputes.

Easy access to efficient, organized systems for settling conflicts can be the great equalizer in an otherwise imbalanced society.