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Life Without Lawyers

Restoring Responsibility in America

W. W. Norton & Company, 2009

Americans are losing the freedom to make sense of daily choices – teachers can’t maintain order in the classroom, managers are trained to avoid candor, schools ban the game of tag, and companies plaster inane warnings on everything: “Remove Baby Before Folding Stroller.”

Philip K. Howard’s urgent and elegant argument is full of examples, often darkly humorous. He describes the historical and cultural forces that led to this mess, and he lays out the basic shift in approach needed to fix it. Today we are flooded with rules and legal threats that prevent us from taking responsibility and using our common sense. We must rebuild boundaries of law that affirmatively protect an open field of freedom. The stories here will ring true to every reader. The analysis is powerful, and the solution unavoidable. What’s at stake, Howard explains in this seminal book, is the vitality of American culture.

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Where does it come from?

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

“Howard makes an important case for reining in lawsuit abuse, cutting way back on bureaucracy, and restoring both authority and personal responsibility to teachers, principals, trial judges, and other people in what should be decision-making positions. In short, it’s more good old-fashioned common sense in a world too short on that virtue.”

– Quin Hillyer, senior editor of American Spectator

Life Without Lawyers is fabulous, a tour de force. This book promises to change the vocabulary of legal discourse – from people pounding the table for their own rights to restoring balance for all of society. Reviving Americans’ can-do spirit and retaining incentives for continued innovation in both the public and private sectors requires rebuilding coherent boundaries of law and authority. Otherwise people go through the day looking over their shoulders instead of doing what’s needed to get the job done.”

– Robert E. Litan, Kauffman Foundation and Brookings Institution

“Philip Howard explains with clarity, grace, and insight how courts and regulators have narrowed the freedom of doctors, teachers, public officials, and many others. This is a thoughtful plea for common sense, and a practical plan to achieve a better balance.”

– former president of Harvard University Derek Bok

“Howard asks questions that cut to the core of our civil society, questions that have the potential to build consensus among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. He offers valuable, big-picture ideas for how we can solve entrenched problems – especially a broken health care system and failing public schools – and rescue America from a political culture that is undermining our national greatness.”

– Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Life Without Lawyers is a refreshing dose of common sense for legal reform. But beyond lamenting what is wrong, Howard presents a must-read, inspirational vision of a system where freedom, decision making and judgment are restored to the individual.”

– former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich

“Philip Howard’s Life Without Lawyers hits the nail on the head – incoherent legalities stultify necessary change and frustrate attempts to use common sense in solving the problems that face our country. This is a real wake-up call from one of America’s finest public minds.”

– former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley

Upcoming Appearances

The Think Tank

September 29, 2014 11:10AM

Philip joins WWL Radio to discuss The Rule of Nobody at 11:10 a.m. Eastern.

Listen live here.

Recent Appearances

What is Lorem Ipsum?

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Where does it come from?

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

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