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In Defense of the Robin Hood Attorney

In Defense of the Robin Hood Attorney

March 15, 2013

By: Kyle Michael Sullivan

Staff Writer, Grand Rapids

“He robs from the rich and gives it to the poor!” How can any reasonable person justify this practice in this day and age? Beyond the reward of helping the less fortunate and a moral obligation to do the same, is there any logical way to defend the contemporary Robin Hood—the poor plaintiff’s attorney?


Yes, and it’s not what you’d expect. It’s not just about charity, and it’s not just about morality. It’s all about economics.

This may seem odd, especially considering how expensive litigation can be for businesses. Moreover, consider that many plaintiff’s attorneys often work at a reduced rate or pro bono. These practicioners, more than any others, take wealth from the rich and redistribute it to the poor.

What’s the big deal you ask? In a down economy, this practice stimulates money flow.

There are two major ways the contemporary Robin Hood helps our economy: (1) his efforts lead to safer products and better business practices; (2) his practice helps keep money moving.

(1) Robin Hood Attorneys Create Safer Products and Better Business Practices.

The possibility of future litigation is terrifying for businesses. It’s an expensive headache and a great way to lose customers.

Beyond the obvious societal benefits, development and production usually require research and marketing, which create sustainable jobs. And these paychecks often quickly find their way back into the economy through various private expenditures and investments. Safer products tend to sell better, and better business practices bolster customer loyalty.

Granted, research and development may seem expensive, but there’s a reason why so many companies pay so much for it: it boosts profits by minimizing future liability and fostering competition. And as Adam Smith once argued: rational self-interest and competition lead to economic growth.

(2) Robin Hood Atorneys Keep Money Moving in the Market.

The more frequently money changes hands in an economy, the higher the gross domestic product (GDP)[†]. In response, the standard of living also rises.[‡] But when wealth is redistributed from the richest (who usually have more assets in long-term investments) to the “Robin Hood plaintiff” (an injured person that doesn’t have as much money), the economy benefits. These plaintiffs, upon receiving compensation for damages suffered, are more likely to make short-term investments and to consume more goods[§]. In turn, this leads to higher sales for businesses, which leads to more profits, and consequently, more investment.

Importantly, this is not blind wealth redistribution. Rather, before receiving the spoils of the contemporary Robin Hood, damaged persons must prove their case. Not only does this lead victorious plaintiffs to cherish their rewards more, but generally, it also limits wealth redistribution to those motivated enough to go through the trouble of filing suit.

The societal good the Robin Hood attorney provides is significant and broadly beneficial. It promotes safety, competition, and lawfulness. The spoils of his work collectively increase the GDP.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

[†] GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government Spending + (Exports – Imports)
[‡] Obviously, this correlation is asymptotic as this rate approaches infinity.
[§] Don’t forget that these Robin Hood attorneys get paid and will likely spend these monies too.