“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead
After nearly 30 years of handling hundreds of cases for both plaintiffs and defendants at every stage of the legal process in such diverse areas as bad-faith insurance practices, Truth in Lending violations, and construction defects, I am now practicing Impact Litigation as an advocate for human and civil rights and the rights of consumers and investors.
What is impact litigation? Impact litigation is the planning, preparing, and filing or defending of lawsuits focused on changing, advancing, or retaining laws, or on the rights of specific groups of people. Impact litigation is brought or defended typically when the case affects more than one individual, even if there is only one individual involved. Many impact litigation organizations are also deeply involved in policy work.
Big business and criminals are lured by dollars to put profits before people, often resulting in the exploitation of consumers and investors. In its worst form, this results in grave violations of human rights by violence and kidnapping for forced labour or slavery and sexual exploitation.
What does it take to make an impact and bring about change? First, it takes someone who cares. And then it takes resources, including time, energy, expertise, and financing. There isn’t much money in prosecuting human rights abuses, and holding violators accountable is difficult and costly. Working alongside other lawyers and law firms to hold big businesses accountable, and to rebalance the unjust enrichment of themselves at consumers’ expense, is one way to generate the resources necessary to enforce human rights laws. The fees from consumer protection lawsuits pays for the cost of social impact litigation.
What is Universal Justice?
According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, there exists a distinct form of justice which is concerned with obeying laws and with virtue as a whole. He called it “Universal Justice.”
Aristotle explains that justice is generally thought to mean a state of character that disposes us to perform just acts, behave in a just manner, and wish for what is just. An unjust person is someone who breaks the law and takes unfair advantage of others by taking more than his share in the exchange of benefits, whereas a just person is law abiding and fair.
All lawful things are in some sense just. Laws aim to promote the common interests of all citizens, so something is just if it promotes or preserves the happiness of the community. As such, justice is the foundation of social life.
In any exchange, the just is what is fair without regard to the parties involved, only to the transaction itself. Both parties are treated as equals before the law in the exchange of goods or services, regardless of their individual merits.
The role of the law, therefore, is to restore the mean between too much and too little, to remedy an inequitable division between two parties, and to equalize the inequality of the injustice. That is what Universal Justice is all about.