ATLA’s politics

by Walter Olson on August 25, 2003

One subtheme at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s annual meeting, held this summer in San Francisco, was ATLA’s big plans to develop influence within the Republican Party to go with its strong clout among the Democrats. A trial lawyer/GOP caucus expects soon to have chairpersons in all fifty states. “Asked by the lawyers how to talk to representatives who see them as the enemy,” a pollster and former Newt Gingrich aide offered several pieces of advice including, as a National Law Journal reporter paraphrases it, “tell them you want to give them money”. (David Hechler, “The Elephant and the Trial Lawyer”, National Law Journal, Aug. 5). Scheduled speakers at the meeting included Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), John Edwards (D-N.C.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Reps. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


“The anti-business atmosphere was thick throughout the convention. … one of the most popular attractions was ‘Bob,'” a dummy identified by name tag as an insurance industry executive, on display “at the booth of the Center for Justice & Democracy, a consumer rights group in New York. … [Rebecca Hoffman, organizational director of the group,] said that both children and adults — including several lawyers — had been taking out their aggressions on the industry by taking a swipe at Bob. Despite punches to the face and gut, she said, Bob ‘is holding up pretty well.'” (Harriet Chiang, San Francisco Chronicle, Jul. 21) “There were rows of expert witnesses. MedQuest (medical expert testimony) and Martex (marine expert witnesses) and a pair of former truck drivers who offered their expertise in truck and school bus accidents. ‘ATLA is the greatest place in the world to be. From this, we’ll get 20-30 cases,’ said Don Asa of D&A Consultants of Scottsdale, Ariz.” (Wayne Slater, “Trial lawyers feel heat”, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 5)(also quotes Daschle and Kerry speeches)