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Another data-byte about spending on law firms in the United States

“America’s lawsuit system is already the world’s most expensive, costing more than $3,300 for every family of four,” announces Trial Lawyer Earmarks. The site adds that “less than 50 cents of every dollar actually [goes] to the victims.”

Roughly speaking, if there are 300 million Americans, that means 75 million “families of four,” right? At $3,300 per family, the total cost of the “lawsuit system” would be $250 BILLION. That “system” must include the courts, perhaps penal institutions, and much more than lawyers, but even if we lop of a chunk for non-law firm costs, that leaves a very large amount for the law firms on both sides of a lawsuit and the internal legal departments that manage many of them. (See my post of July 16, 2009: irreconcilable data on total spending on US law firms.).

The source of the figure, not given on the website, appears to be a study by Tillinghast-TowersPerrin, U.S. Tort Costs: 2004 Update, Trends and Findings on the Costs of the U.S. Tort System app. 1A, 2, at 13, 15 (2004), available here.