Law: Fat Fees

More is—well, lots more

Chief Justice Walter McLaughlin retired in 1977 to join his sons' Boston law firm. After ten years on the Massachusetts Superior Court, he was asked what he found most striking about returning to private practice. "The fees," he snapped. "They are outrageous. With the cost of litigation these days, I think clients would often be better off if they just met in the halls and threw dice. Certainly it would be cheaper."

In 1977, legal fees totaled some $18.6 billion. According to the Commerce Department, that figure was up to $23.4 billion last year, nearly 1% of the...

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