Ethics & Image (Previously published in the ATLA Docket)i-dangerousdrugs

by Brad Hendricks, Previous ATLA President

Attorneys in Arkansas and across the nation are bitterly disappointed that a trial lawyer will not preside over the United States Senate for the next four years. We had a rare opportunity to transform the debate regarding tort deform, but it was narrowly missed.

We have no time to feel sorry for ourselves: There is too much work to be done to waste our time agonizing over what might have been. What’s done is done and we must move ahead.

For years we have fought the tort deform battle on two fronts, federal and state. It would have been helpful to be able to focus our efforts entirely on the state level, but that didn’t happen. While it may appear that we are simply in the same situation that we were in prior to the election, that is not the case. The fact is, although our position at the federal level is weakened, our strength is vastly improved at the state level.

ATLA members won their contests, and other attorneys who support us also won. After achieving an outstanding success rate in the primaries, candidates who earned our support won an astonishing fifteen of seventeen races in the general election. Moreover, many of our candidates who had won their primary contests were unopposed in the general election. Our success rate was absolutely phenomenal.

We have begun the process of transforming the legislature from one where there were precious few attorneys to one where we have a strong and substantial presence. Overall, we far exceeded any rational expectation of what we thought we might accomplish when we first reached out to people interested in politics and who understand the issues of importance to us. The changing face of the legislature will be evident during the session of 2005, and that is very good news for all ATLA members.

We must stay focused on the issues at the state level. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America will represent us well at the federal level. National tort deform is a far cry from being a reality. Our efforts at the federal level remain strong. Bush was not able to harm us during his first term, and hopefully he will have a long and difficult struggle in his attempts to do so during his second term.

Meanwhile, the pivotal moment for our practices, our families and our clients is rapidly approaching in Little Rock. Our opponents are poised to attempt to deliver their knockout punch in the form of regulatory caps on compensatory damages, and a regulatory scheme governing your right to enter into valid contracts regarding your fees.

With your help, we can give them a big surprise. We are busy getting fully prepared at all levels. But it will be expensive, and what we have accomplished thus far has already been expensive. The question is really simple at this point. Are you going to just roll over and accept whatever your enemies dish out? If not, put your money where it matters. Contribute mightily to this cause TODAY.

ATLA members can now be categorized into two very clear and distinct groups. One group will be those who have some bite to go with their bark, and the other group will be those who don’t. I believe that the overwhelming majority of our members are ready to fight back. I’m asking you to prove that I’m right.