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Anatomy of an Aggregate Settlement: The Triumph of Temptation over Ethics
By Lester Brickman
This Essay explores the ethical issues that arise for plaintiffs’ lawyers involved in nonclass aggregate settlements.  Rule 1.8(g) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct requires that each client in an aggregate settlement must give their informed consent to the settlement amount allocated to them by their lawyer.  This Essay argues that lawyers’ fees in some aggregate settlements are of such a magnitude that they simply overwhelm any proclivity of lawyers to adhere to the rule.  The Essay uses the Phillips Petroleum litigation as an example of the more egregious results of perverse incentives created by fees of that magnitude.

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About This Content
Keywords: Brickman, Professional Responsibility, Mass Torts, Class Actions, Contingency Fees, Aggregate Settlements
Content Type: Article
Media Type: Print
Author: Lester Brickman
Publish Date: February 2011
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