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Ignore the irony of a tenured Harvard professor railing against the pursuit of excellence and employment security and J. Mark Ramseyer’s book is fun and enlightening.

By essentially settling for mediocrity, he argues, Japan’s civil justice system works better than America’s which, in seeking to offer excellent individualized justice to every plaintiff, actually delivers dismal results for most litigants and is easily hijacked by unscrupulous tort lawyers and frivolous class actions. Unlike American juries, Japanese judges decide predictably enough that lawyers (and insurers) know where to settle.

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