I’m a proud member of the American Association for Justice, an organization begun in 1946 when a group of 11 lawyers met in Oregon to form a new organization called the “National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorneys.” That organization became, in time, The American Trial Lawyers Association and, finally, The American Association for Justice. 2016 is the Association’s 70th birthday.
AAJ’s mission is a simple one. Train lawyers that represent individuals and working families in their fight for justice against financial oppression, negligence, unsafe products, malpractice, discrimination and fraud. Give them a place to gather and exchange ideas. Provide continuing legal education. Challenge attempts to subvert the laws and the civil justice process to tip the scales in favor of big corporations, banks, insurance companies, big business and special interest groups. Fight against any attempt to change the Rules of Court to benefit those interests. Fight against any attempt to deny people their right to a trial by jury in presenting their claims.
AAJ’s accomplishments across these fronts are legion, over seventy years. Countless products have been made safer. Medical patients get better, more careful medical care. Children and working families are better protected. Transportation is less dangerous. Civil rights are protected. Discrimination is challenged at every turn. Because of AAJ and member efforts.
AAJ, given this mission, has many enemies. The Federal Chamber of Commerce. Big business. Big insurance. Big banking. Big finance. Big medicine. Big Pharma. The makers of unsafe products, who put profits before safety. AAJ members almost never accept up-front money from their clients; we all work in the hope that we’ll prevail and that our fee will come from having prevailed. We have the courage and the moral conviction to do it that way because it’s the right thing to do.
If no one is accountable, no one is safe.
AAJ provides a banner under which we march. I’m proud to be a member of AAJ’s elite “Leadership Forum.” I wish AAJ a very happy 70th birthday, wish for at least as many more.