Settlement Mills

A law professor at Stanford, Lora Freeman Engstrom, has written an article published in Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics  called "Run-of-the-Mill Justice."   Her  bio reveals that her research  interest is high-volume personal injury law practices that heavily advertise and mass-produce the resolution of claims and  is supported by a grant from the American Bar Association’s Litigation Research Fund.

Here is an abstract of the article:

This Article examines a particular form of heretofore unexamined personal injury law practice that has proliferated across the United States. These law firms, which I call settlement mills, are characterized by their high claim volume, aggressive advertising, significant delegation to non-attorneys, entrepreneurial focus, and quick resolution of claims, typically without initiation of suit. Drawing on voluminous documents extracted from federal court and state bar disciplinary files, as well as fifty interviews with current and past law firm employees, the Article demonstrates that settlement mills represent a relatively new, largely distinct, and surprisingly prevalent form of law firm organization. After setting forth the characteristics that distinguish settlement mills from conventional personal injury practices, the Article considers the forces that have contributed to their rise, analyzes how they resolve claims in practice and to what effect, and asks why insurers (not facing a realistic threat of trial) bargain with settlement mills at all. The analysis reveals that settlement mills are not only organized differently than their conventional counterparts; they actually settle claims differently, in a manner that challenges prevailing theories of settlement as well as our basic notions of compensation through tort.

The article is available for purchase here.  I have ordered a copy and will share further information at a later date.

Thanks to Torts Prof Blog for informing me of the existence of this article.