Trial Lawyers’ Chief Calls for End to ‘Vitriol’

A leading trial lawyer association leader has called for an end to partisan charges against lawyers and for lawyers to stand up and take pride in what they do.

Mary Alexander, past president of the country’s largest trial lawyers group, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, reacted to repeated criticisms of her organization and trial lawyers in general in the recent presidential campaign.

Alexander stressed that the campaign is over. “It is time to end the vitriol against trial lawyers and to let people and especially the media know what we really do,” she said. “This is not a partisan issue. We are proud of what we do, fighting for consumers against large insurance companies who don’t treat them fairly; fighting for the ordinary person; fighting for the voiceless and the powerless. It’s time to make our message clear.”

Alexander is slated to receive the Edward I. Pollock Award from the Consumer Attorneys of California this Saturday, Nov. 13, at CAOC’s annual convention. The award is the oldest one given by the Association, first doing so in 1982, and is named for Pollock, former CAOC president and renowned consumer advocate. The award is being given to Alexander “In Recognition Of Her Many Years Of Dedication, Outstanding Efforts And Effectiveness On Behalf Of The Causes And Ideals Of The Consumer Attorneys Of California”.

In an advance copy of her acceptance speech, also quoted above, Alexander states, “I am proud that both John Edwards and John Kerry are lawyers and that they gladly pointed to their advocacy for innocent and otherwise powerless victims as proof of their concern for every American. As a fellow trial lawyer, Senator Edwards is one of our biggest allies in Congress, and he continued to defend us throughout the campaign. His candidacy stood for consumers in America and for what’s right about America. Attack ads on trial lawyers and John Edwards did not work. Actually, when asked if the fact that John Edwards was a trial lawyer helped or hurt the Democratic ticket, 67 percent said it helped.”

Alexander continues, “In fact — and many people don’t know this — President Bush wanted to be a lawyer — but was rejected by the University of Texas Law School in 1970. Perhaps some of the ranting is really just the frustration of rejection!”

Alexander makes her case further: “According to the Consumer Federation of America, an estimated 6,000 deaths and millions of injuries are prevented each year because of the deterrent effect of product liability lawsuits. Without what you do, Americans would still be driving on defective tires, asbestos would still line the walls of schools and homes, and badly designed cribs would strangle babies.”

Alexander concedes that “with the new makeup of the House and Senate, our job just got tougher – a lot tougher.” She says that over the past year, “I and other ATLA leaders had to literally stand at the door of the floor of the U.S. House and Senate to point out to members that what pending bills that would have put a cap on damages and curtailed class action lawsuits would really do is reward the insurance industry and corporations with higher profits and less accountability and prohibit juries of regular Americans from holding harmful interests accountable.”

She tells her colleagues, “We all want the bad apples out of our profession, but I know you share with me the fear that somehow, despite our best work, Congress could go too far.”