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US trial lawyers association name change derided by critics

[JURIST] A vote this week by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) [advocacy website] at its annual meeting [materials] in Seattle to change its name to the American Association for Justice (AAJ) has drawn derision from critics of trial lawyers and the American litigation process. Incoming president Mike Eidson [law firm profile], a south Florida product liability attorney, said in an interview after the meeting that the new name "reflects what we do and not who we are", but Lisa A. Rickard, president of the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, called the move [press release] "an astounding admission of the unpopularity of trial lawyers in America." American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) [advocacy website] General Counsel Victor Schwartz similarly scoffed at the change, while expressing the hope that it might indicate "an attitude adjustment and new willingness to join us in pursuit of real justice,... [working] to end abusive litigation, stop rampant forum shopping and place reasonable limits on absurdly high damage awards."

Describing itself as the "world's largest trial bar" [ATLA website] with more than 56,000 members worldwide, ATLA has traditionally set out to "provide lawyers with the information and professional assistance needed to serve clients successfully and protect the democratic values inherent in the civil justice system." ATLA has campaigned vigorously [JURIST report] against state and federal tort reform [Wikipedia backgrounder], arguing that the criticisms of increasing tort litigation are false and help corporations escape accountability. Law.com has more. Insurance Journal has additional coverage.

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