|Alma mater||University of Florida
|Known for||Being a Professor of Law|
Lester Brickman is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of the Yeshiva University and a legal scholar. He was born September 4, 1940, in New York City. He is one of the founding faculty members of the Cardozo, recruited by Yeshiva University in 1976 from the University of Toledo College of Law. On May 31, 2016, Professor Brickman received the Monrad Paulsen Award of the Cardozo School, upon his retirement from teaching.
He taught contracts, legal ethics and Land Use and Zoning at the Cardozo School of Law and has written on asbestos litigation and tort reform. Brickman has espoused the Early Offer model of allocating contingent fees as a way of reforming the American tort law system. Professor Brickman is the author of a book, Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America (Cambridge University Press, 2011), a detailed critique of perceived abuses and excessive costs of the American tort system, with proposals for reform.
One noted area in which his reform efforts have already been successful is that of nonrefundable retainers. After he wrote several law review articles and an amicus curiae brief deriding them as illegal, the New York Court of Appeals struck down their use by lawyers in New York State. This holding has been adopted in other states.
Brickman played a significant role as an expert witness in a controversial 2013 case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina, In Re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC., et al., debtor. Counsel for Garlock, Garland Cassada of the Charlotte NC law firm Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, was successful in persuading Judge George Hodges to permit full discovery of 15 high-value asbestos claims settled by Garlock when it was a solvent entity. Using data obtained from these cases by Cassada, Professor Brickman’s expert report set forth evidence of fraud, misrepresentation and “double-dipping” (contradictory accounts of exposure between tort and bankruptcy-trust claims) in all 15 cases, the net effect of which was to inflate the value of future claims that may be made against the bankrupt entity. The claimants, represented by the Garlock Asbestos Claims Committee, had estimated that future liability as high as $1.3 billion. Judge Hodges, in his January 10, 2014 “Order Estimating Aggregate Liability,” reduced the amount required for the bankruptcy trust by more than $1 billion, to $125 million, asserting that:
"The purpose of this Order is to determine Garlock’s responsibility for causing mesothelioma and the aggregate amount of money that is required to satisfy its liability to present claimants and future victims. The estimates of Garlock’s aggregate liability that are based on its historic settlement values are not reliable because those values are infected with the impropriety of some law firms and inflated by the cost of defense. The best evidence of Garlock’s aggregate responsibility is the projection of its legal liability that takes into consideration causation, limited exposure and the contribution of exposures to other products. The court has determined that $125 million is sufficient to satisfy Garlock’s liability for the legitimate present and future mesothelioma claims against it."
In his teaching, Brickman employed a very rigorous socratic method during class meetings, combining a fast-paced banter with students leavened along the way by his idiosyncratic phrases and original anecdotes, frequently using his catchphrases "make a legal noise" or "difference in degree or difference in kind". The overall effect was intended to scare students into closer reading of case texts (a la the character Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase).
- Cardozo School of Law (1984). "Lester Brickman." Res Nova [Yearbook]: 79.
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.  "Class of 2016 Celebrates Commencement, May 31, 2016."
- Brickman, L. and H. D. Shapiro (2004). "“Early Offers:” A Proposal To Counter Attorney Fee Gouging By Aligning The Contingent Fee System With Its Policy Roots And Ethical Mandates," PointofLaw.com
- Brickman, L. (1988). "Nonrefundable retainers: impermissible under fiduciary, statutory and contract law."  Fordham Law Review 57(2): 149-190.
- Brickman, L. and Lawrence A. Cunningham (1993). "Nonrefundable Retainers Revisited." North Carolina Law Review. 72(1): 1.
- Brickman, L. and L. A. Cunningham (1994). "Living with the Ban on Nonrefundable Retainers: Cooperman's Scope, Meaning and Consequences." New York State Bar Journal. 66(6): 50.
- Brickman, L. and L. A. Cunningham (1995). "Nonrefundable Retainers: A Response to Critics of The Absolute Ban."  University of Cincinnati Law Review. 64(1): 11.
- Brickman, L. and L. A. Cunningham (1997). "Game theory and nonrefundable retainers: a response to professors Croson and Mnookin." Harvard Negotiation Law Review 2: 69-86.
- Gvillo, Heather Isringhausen.  "A Look at Two Rulings $1B Apart in Bankruptcy Proceedings of Garlock, Bondex." Legal Newsline (August 12, 2014).
- Fisher, Daniel.  "A Stubborn Manufacturer Exposes the Asbestos Blame Game." Forbes (March 25, 2015).
- Tomsic, Michael. "In Charlotte, Judge Describes Asbestos Litigation 'Infected with the Impropriety of Some Law Firms'." WFAE 90.7 (January 23, 2014).
- Hodges, George.  "In Re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC., et al.: Order Estimating Aggregate Liability." In Case No. 10-31607, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Charlotte NC, 2014.
-  Brickman testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, February 6, 2015.
-  Cardozo Faculty: Lester Brickman
-  Lester Brickman's Social Science Research Network (SSRN) author page.
-  Brickman's Lawyer Barons, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
-  Expert Report of Lester Brickman, Esq., Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, in Re Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., Case No. 10-Bk-31607, April 23, 2013. 2013.
-  Webpage of Garland Cassada, Esq., Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson.