Center for Law and Economic Studies
Forty years ago, Judge Jerome Frank coined the term "private Attorney General" to recognize the role of private litigation in the enforcement of law.' In the intervening years, the "private attorney general" concept has become both a cliche and a crutch, receiving polite lip service from nearly all, but critical analysis from relatively few.2 As most college sophomores know, the private attorney general is someone who sues "to vindicate the public interest" by representing collectively those who individually could not afford the costs of litigation; and, as every law student knows, our society places extensive reliance upon such private attorneys general to enforce the federal antitrust and securities laws, to challenge corporate self-dealing in derivative actions, and to protect a host of other statutory policies.3
John C. Coffee Jr.,
Rescuing the Private Attorney General: Why the Model of the Lawyer as Bounty Hunter is Not Working,
Md. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/537