San Francisco Daily Journal - Jahan Sagafi and Michelle Erickson
Concerned with the success of the civil rights and women's rights movements in the 1960s and cultural challenges to corporate power, conservatives in the 1970s planned their legal revolution. In recent decades, this effort has borne fruit. Ballooning corporate power and substantial erosion of the public sphere have caused a yawning chasm between rich and poor. One of the conservative legal architects' greatest achievements is forced arbitration: the privatization of the public court system coupled with attacks on one of the strongest tools for civil law enforcement - the class action.
A California appeals court decision sinking Winston & Strawn LLP's arbitration agreement with a former attorney suing the firm for discrimination will encourage "for hire" lawyers and others outside firms' power structures to fight contracts that seek to block legal disputes from reaching the courtroom, experts say.