Walter Olson

Walter Olson is a commentator, author and critic best known for his work on American law. A senior fellow at the Cato Institute, the think tank in Washington, D.C., he has written a series of widely acclaimed books on our legal system, beginning with The Litigation Explosion and most recently Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America (Encounter, 2011). On the web, he founded and continues to run, widely cited as the oldest blog on law as well as one of the most popular.

The Self-Sustaining Guild: American Lawyers Will Still Own the Future

For decades it seemed as if the demand for legal services would keep growing indefinitely, and the prosperity of the American legal profession would keep mounting year by year. Then in 2008 came the smash-up, and boom gave way to sudden bust. Does this sequence of events relate to the loosening of the legal profession’s traditional status as a guild? And, in fact, is that status loosening? James Chen’s essay invites us to consider these questions. One can imagine ways in which weakening of guild control might be eroding the profession’s prosperity. In theory, some combination of online technology and relaxed…

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Legal Education at the Intersection of Two Guilds

Jim Chen is right.  Contrary to the mythical image repeated in the past two decades—exemplified by Anthony Kronman’s The Lost Lawyer and Sol Linowitz’s The Betrayed Profession—the American legal profession has never had a golden age.  As preeminent scholar of the legal profession Marc Galanter wryly remarked, “We are surely living in the literary Golden…

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Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America

In this conversation with Walter Olson, we discuss the progressive philosophy informing much of legal pedagogy in American law schools and how it has manifested itself in a range of attempts to use law as a political weapon.