Schools for Misrule: A Conversation with Walter Olson
Walter Olson’s acclaimed books—The Litigation Explosion, The Excuse Factory, and The Rule of Lawyers—have changed the way we think about the American legal system.
In Olson’s latest contribution, Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America (Encounter) he exposes the cause of the Litigation Explosion; we see how the American workplace became a “sued if you do, sued if you don’t” Excuse Factory, and how self-government has been overturned in favor of the Rule of Lawyers.
Olson shows that the overlawyered world we live in is not an accident. It’s a self-conscious intellectual project that emanates from our nation’s most prestigious law schools or—as Olson calls them—“Hatcheries of Bad Ideas.” Law school elites have spent the past 50 years remaking our democracy, in the process transforming themselves from its guardians to its rulers.
From socializing torts, to public interest law, to global lawfare, change follows a pattern: Law reviews and books become the basis of new legal approaches that are often operationalized through legal clinics. Left-leaning foundations fund these clinics, which displace legislators, making lawyers and judges the new power brokers.
Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies. Prior to joining Cato, Olson was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and he has been a columnist for Great Britain's Times Online as well as Reason. His writing appears regularly in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The New York Post. He has appeared numerous times before Congress and advised many public officials. The Washington Post has dubbed Olson the "intellectual guru of tort reform."
Watch Walter Olson talk about Schools for Misrule at a Heartland Institute luncheon on March 24, 2011: