Selected writings, Walter Olson
(updated through mid-2000)

If you're interested in reading my work online, you might prefer the page collecting online writings by topic.  This page is a fuller chronological listing of my writings through mid-2000, including more of the pieces not (yet) online.  There are also pages collecting my books, my column in Reason and my book reviews.


(as contributor; excludes reprints:) (edited:)

ARTICLES, BOOK REVIEWS, ETC: (frequently updated commentary and links on legal issues), July 1, 1999-current.

"Confessions of a Macaulay Fan", Reason, August/September 2000.

"The 'Runaway Jury' Is No Myth" (Florida tobacco case, punitive damages), Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2000.

"Look for the Kiwi Label: The "anti-sweatshop" movement has an elastic agenda", Reason, July 2000

"A Smith & Wesson FAQ: A gun deal with many losers", Reason, June 2000.

"Access Excess: The Americans with Disabilities Act goes online", Reason, May 2000.
"Office Managers: OSHA's retreat from its bid to regulate home workplaces sets a subversive precedent", April 2000.

"Plaintiff's lawyers take aim at democracy" (Smith & Wesson settlement), Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2000.

"Selective Liability" (Clinton's legal legacy), The American Lawyer, March 2000.

"The Year in Double Takes" (surprising quotes and stories of 1999), Reason, March 2000.

"Gold Bugs" (lawsuits against Silicon Valley), Reason, February 2000.

"Puff, the Magic Settlement" (tobacco fees), Reason, January 2000.

"Felon Protection" (laws barring employment discrimination against convicted criminals), Reason, December 1999.

"A Microsoft Suit With a Sure Winner", New York Times, Nov. 23, 1999.

"On My Mind: Reno's Racket" (federal tobacco suit), Forbes, November 1, 1999.

"Dial 'O' for Outrage -- The Sequel" (strangest cases from, Reason, November 1999.

"Big Guns" (origins of firearms litigation), Reason, October 1999.

"Title IX's Invisible Ink" (Supreme Court invents right to sue for student-on-student harassment), Reason, August/September 1999.

"The Florida Tobacco Jurors: Anything but Typical", "Rule of Law", Wall Street Journal, July 12, 1999.

"Lawyers, Gums and Rummies" (why lawyers are so unpopular), Reason, July 1999.

Under the ADA, We May All Be Disabled”, “Rule of Law”, Wall Street Journal, May 17, 1999.

"Benighted Elite: Postmodern critics of science get their comeuppance", Reason, June 1999.

"Mine and Thine", review of Property and Liberty by Richard Pipes, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1999.

"Firing Squad" (federalism and firearms lawsuits), Reason, May 1999.

"Dentists, Bartenders, and Lawyer Unpopularity" (speech to Federalist Society 1998 national convention), Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #37, April 1999.

"A Woburn FAQ" (skeptical view of A Civil Action), Reason, April 1999 (and see my related Woburn Skeptic's Page).

"Lost in the Wash" (bank "know-your-customer" rules), Reason, March 1999.

"Standard Accommodations" (toward universal disability), Reason, February 1999.

"A Legacy of Dirty Laundry" (brief contribution to symposium on harassment law), The Women's Quarterly, Winter 1999.

"Dark Bedfellows" (left and right gang up on the Enlightenment), Reason, January 1999.

"Hollywood vs. the Truth" ("Civil Action" movie), Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1998.

"Dial 'O' for Outrage" (outtakes from The Excuse Factory), Reason, December 1998.

"Yesterday's Tomorrows: Books that got the future right -- and wrong", contribution to book symposium, Reason, December 1998.

"Invitation to a Stoning" (Christian Reconstructionists), Reason, November 1998 (& subsequent letters exchange with Andrew Sandlin and William Gould)

"Neither Nationalist Nor Socialist" ("Target Switzerland" by Stephen Halbrook, on Swiss WWII record), Reason, October 1998.

"Unified Kvetch Theory" (complaints about "radical individualism"), Reason, August/ September 1998.

"Kingdom of the One-Eyed" (Americans with Disabilities Act and safety), Reason, July 1998.

"In the Land of the ADA, the One-Eyed Man Is King," "Rule of Law", Wall Street Journal, June 22, 1998.

"Thanks for the Memories" (lawyers' coaching of witnesses), Reason, June 1998 (& subsequent letters exchange with William Hodes)

"Still Crazy" (Americans with Disabilities Act in the courts), Reason, May 1998.

"Have the Harassment Rules Changed?", "Manager's Journal", Wall Street Journal, April 6, 1998.

"Tripp Wire" (government informants in the workplace), Reason, April 1998.

"Putting the Workplace on the Couch: The ADA Leaves Companies In the Dark", American Lawyer CCM (Corporate Counsel), April 1998.

"Punch the Clock, Sue the Boss", The New York Times, March 20, 1998.

"Family Planning: Social engineering tempts the right", Reason, March 1998 (& subsequent letters exchange with Richard Gill)

"Title IX from Outer Space: How federal law is killing men's college sports", Reason, February 1998.

"The Writerly Rand", review of Journals of Ayn Rand (Harrison, ed.), Reason, February 1998.

"Their Own Petard: Fans of activist litigation discover the other guy can sue too", Reason, January 1998.

"William Bennett, Gays, and the Truth", Slate, December 18, 1997; and Slate "Email to the Editors", letter exchange with Paul Cameron, January 15, 1998.

"For Heaven's Sake" ("religious accommodation" law), Reason, December 1997.

"Disabilities Law Protects Bad Doctors", New York Times, November 28, 1997.

"Opposing View: Meddlers Won't Quit" (EEOC guidelines on college athletic coaches' pay), USA Today, November 17, 1997.

"Say What?" (accent discrimination), Reason, November 1997.

"The Law on Trial", Wall Street Journal, October 14, 1997 (review of Beyond all Reason by Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry).

"Free To Commit" (Louisiana covenant marriage law), Reason, October 1997.

"Fixing the Civil Service Mess", City Journal, Autumn 1997 (shorter version: Manhattan Institute Civic Bulletin #11, February 1998).

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of a good beer," excerpt from The Excuse Factory, Washington Monthly, September, 1997.

"Age-bias law backfires on boomers", USA Today, August 26, 1997.

"Anti-Discrimination Ad Absurdum", New York Post, August 24, 1997.

"Retro Style" (retroactive laws), Reason, August/ September 1997.

"Time to Get Off the Tenure Track", The New York Times, July 8, 1997.

"Mugging Libertarians" (anti-libertarian line at The Weekly Standard), Reason, July 1997.

"How Employers Are Forced To Hire Murderers and Other Felons", Wall Street Journal, June 18, 1997.

"Shut Up, They Explained" (zero-tolerance harassment policies), Reason, June 1997.

"Debatable defenses from James Q. Wilson", review of "Moral Judgment: Does the Abuse Excuse Threaten Our Legal System?" by James Q. Wilson, Baltimore Sun, May 18, 1997.

"Disabling America", National Review, May 5, 1997.

"The Trouble with Employment Law," Cato Policy Report, May/June 1997 (excerpt from The Excuse Factory).

"Occupational Hazards" (excerpt from The Excuse Factory), Reason, May 1997.

"Don't Steal This Book", review of Property Matters by James DeLong, Wall Street Journal, April 2, 1997.

"Judge Dread" (on Robert Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah), Reason, April 1997.

"Right Off Target", review of The World Turned Right Side Up by Godfrey Hodgson, March 1997.

"Read These Books -- And Sue Every Boss in Sight", Baltimore Sun, February 16, 1997.

"Framing Texaco", American Spectator, February 1997.

"Loser-Pays: Where Next?" (with David Bernstein), Maryland Law Review, v. 55, n. 4 (1996) (abstract).

"New Trends in Highway Robbery", review of Accidentally, On Purpose by Ken Dornstein, Wall Street Journal, December 20, 1996.

"Have You Used a Kid Today As a Political Pawn?", Chicago Tribune, November 14, 1996.

"Will Trial-Lawyer Cash Corrupt Our Courts?," guest editorial, Investor's Business Daily, November 14, 1996.

"Breast Wishes", review of Science on Trial by Marcia Angell, National Review, November 11, 1996.

"A Connecticut Yankee in Court", City Journal, Autumn 1996.

"Is It Really an In-Justice System?", New York Post, September 30, 1996.

"Taking Aim at the Trial of the Century"”, review of Outrage by Vincent Bugliosi and Virtual Justice by H. Richard Uviller, Wall Street Journal, July 24, 1996.

"The Long Arm of Harassment Law", New York Times, July 7, 1996.

"Lawyers with Stethoscopes: Clients Beware", Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo # 26, June 1996.

"Dworkin's morality: rule by Supremes", review of Ronald Dworkin, Freedom's Law, Baltimore Sun, May 5, 1996.

"Judge Not...", review of Guilty by Harold Rothwax, Commentary, May 1996.

"A Small Canadian Firm Meets the American Tort Monster", Wall Street Journal, February 14, 1996.

"Taming the Litigators: Why Not More Disclosure?", Manhattan Institute Civil Justice Memo #24, February 1996.

"Return to Normalcy", review of Virtually Normal by Andrew Sullivan, January 1996.

“First, Let’s Change the Jury-Selection System”, New York Post, October 5, 1995.

"Tobacco Analysts Meet the Plaintiff's Lawyers", Wall Street Journal, August 30, 1995.

"Civil Suits" (case for loser-pays rule in litigation), June 1995.

“The Bard of Bureaucracy”, review of Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, Wall Street Journal, March 30, 1995.

A Story That Doesn’t Have a Leg To Stand On,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 1995 (& Toronto Globe & Mail)

"Can the nation’s lawyers ‘lick’ the GOP’s agenda?", Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1995.

"Juries on Trial", review of The Jury by Stephen J. Adler and We the Jury by Jeffrey Abramson, Reason, February 1995.

“The Mystique of ‘Efficient’ Litigation”, Jobs and Capital, Winter 1994.

“The Jury Selection Ordeal”, Wall Street Journal “Rule of Law” column, December 7, 1994 (adapted from Reason February 1995 article).

“And Now For Tort Reform”, Wall Street Journal “Rule of Law” column, November 16, 1994.

“Suing City Hall”, City Journal, Autumn 1994.

“Borking Before Bork,” review of The Confirmation Mess by Stephen Carter, Wall Street Journal, June 21, 1994.

Theory-Addled Lawyers”, review of The Lost Lawyer by Anthony Kronman, Across the Board, February 1994.

The New Chutzpah: Criminals Sue the City”, City Journal, Winter 1994.

"Winged Defeat", review of "Angels in America" play, National Review, January 24, 1994.

"Good Standing?", City Journal, Autumn 1993.

Ending Racial Gerrymanders: New Supreme Court ruling moves voting rights battles back in the right direction,” New York Post, July 2, 1993.

"It Didn't Start With Dateline NBC", National Review, June 21, 1993 (& Rocky Mountain News).

At Law: Divorce Court New York Style”, City Journal, Spring 1993 (& New York Daily News, 5/9).

"Exposing the ‘Experts’ Behind the Sexy Exposes", Washington Post, February 28, 1993 (& Detroit News)

Some of the very bad reasons our legal system is well-known”, Houston Post, February 20, 1993.

"'The Most Dangerous Vehicle on the Road'", Wall Street Journal, February 9, 1993 (& Automobile, Consumers' Research)

When Sensitivity Training Is the Law”, “Rule of Law” column, Wall Street Journal, January 20, 1993.

Sue City: New York’s Stake in Lawsuit Reform,” City Journal, Winter 1993 (and sidebars: "Those Crazy Cases" and "Professional Victims")

"A Country Named Sue", CEO International Strategies, October/November 1992.

“A Brief for Bias?” review of Forbidden Grounds by Richard Epstein, Across the Board, October 1992.

"Lawyers Run Sue City", Newsday, September 15, 1992.

California Counts the Costs of Lawsuit Mania”, “Rule of Law” column, Wall Street Journal, June 3, 1992.

“Tortification of Contract Law: Displacing Consent and Agreement”, Cornell Law Review, July 1992. (Federalist Society lawyers convention symposium issue).

"Kidlib and Mrs. Clinton: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle,” National Review, May 11, 1992.

“Three Cheers for Workfare,” review of Lawrence Mead, The New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1992.

"Slowing the Recovery: Too Many Lawsuits", San Diego Union Tribune, May 3, 1992.

“Make the Loser Pay”, Reader’s Digest, May 1992.

"Sue City: The Case Against the Contingency Fee", excerpt from The Litigation Explosion, Policy Review, Winter 1991 [in two parts] [part one] [part two]

"Breaking Ranks", review of Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby by Stephen Carter, National Review, October 7, 1991.

“System Overload”, American Bar Association Journal, October 1991.

Excerpt from The Litigation Explosion, Medical Economics, September 16, 1991 [in two parts] [part one] [part two]

"How Greedy Can You Get?" (excerpt from The Litigation Explosion), Across the Board, July 1991.

"Suing Ourselves to Death", (excerpt from The Litigation Explosion), Washington Post, April 28, 1991.

"Let's Get Lawsuit Mania Off the Docket", Newsday, April 12, 1991.

“Better Living Through Litigation?”, The Public Interest, Spring 1991.

“Sue thy Neighbor?”, N.Y.: The City Journal, Spring 1991.

“No Secrets: Privacy in Peril” (excerpt, The Litigation Explosion; cover story), Reason, February 1991.

“The Selling of the Law” (excerpt, The Litigation Explosion), The American Enterprise, January/February 1991.

“Shmoos and Lemmings”, review of The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery: The Collapse of the Savings and Loan Industry by Martin Mayer, Wall Street Journal, November 20, 1990.

“Diarist: Around the Clock With Alternate-Side-of-the-Street Parking,” N.Y.: The City Journal, Autumn 1990.

“How Wedtech Cleaned Up,” review of Feeding the Beast by Marilyn Thompson and Too Good to be True by James Traub, Wall Street Journal, August 23, 1990.

"The Identity Crisis of Kevin Phillips,” review of The Politics of Rich and Poor by Kevin Phillips, Fortune, July 16, 1990.

“The Real Receivers in Bankruptcy,” review of A Feast for Lawyers by Sol Stein, Wall Street Journal, January 12, 1990.

“The Case Against Expert Witnesses”, Fortune, September 25, 1989.

“Homage to St. Mario,” review of Mario Cuomo: A Biography by Robert S. McElvaine, Wall Street Journal, June 16, 1988.

"Why Business Loses In Court" (review of Richard Neely, The Product Liability Mess), Fortune, May 23, 1988.

“Two Roads to Piety,” review of To Dwell in Peace by Daniel Berrigan and Strength for the Journey by Jerry Falwell, Wall Street Journal, January 28, 1988.

“Leaving Liability Alone,” review of William Landes & Richard Posner, The Economic Structure of Tort Law, Wall Street Journal, August 13, 1987.

“The Art of Advocacy”, review of Giant Killers by Michael Pertschuk, Wall Street Journal, October 14, 1986.

“Cuomo’s Pay-as-You-Go Liberalism,” Wall Street Journal, October 6, 1986.

Other writings include many signed opinion pieces and book reviews 1984-92 in the Wall Street Journal, Barron's and Fortune, as well as other pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle, Journal of Commerce, Newsday, City Journal, Reason, National Review, etc.

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