AAJ Leadership

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AAJ Leadership  

Officers serve a one-year term and are elected at the annual conventions.

AAJ 2013-2014 Executive Officers

President: Burton LeBlanc of Baron & Budd, PC in Baton Rouge, LA
President-Elect: Lisa Blue Baron of Baron & Blue Law Firm in Dallas, TX
Vice-President: Larry Tawwater of the Tawwater Law Firm, P.L.L.C., in Oklahoma City, OK
Secretary: Julie Braman Kane of Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, FL
Treasurer: Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, PC in Bridgeport, CT
Parliamentarian: Elise Sanguinetti of Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP in Oakland, CA

J. Burton LeBlanc IV

President:
Burton LeBlanc of Baron & Budd, PC in Baton Rouge, LA

Upon graduation from Loyola University School of Law (New Orleans) in 1990, Burton LeBlanc had a chance encounter with a man suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos, that ignited what would become the driving passion behind his career: to help people who had been harmed by exposure to dangerous workplace and environmental contaminants. Ultimately, Mr. LeBlanc's namesake law firm (LeBlanc & Waddell) was designated by both the Louisiana AFL-CIO and the Louisiana NAACP as occupational disease counsel.

In addition to litigating cases, beginning in 1996, Mr. LeBlanc became an outspoken advocate for consumers’ rights before the Louisiana legislature and the United States Congress. In these capacities, he found that, while it was important and gratifying to help craft legislation to protect consumers against corporate misconduct, litigation played a critical role in enforcing these laws and regulations.

Mr. LeBlanc has since served as president of the Louisiana Association for Justice (Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association) and has been appointed to numerous committees by federal courts and the Louisiana Supreme Court. He has testified before the Louisiana legislature, appeared on radio and television shows, and spoken at many legal seminars about consumers’ rights and misguided tort reform efforts.

Mr. LeBlanc is active in the American Association for Justice and has served as its Parliamentarian and on the Board of Governors, National Finance Committee, PAC Committee and the Leaders Forum. Recently, Mr. LeBlanc received the Wiedemann Wysocki National Finance Council Award.  He also served as Vice-President of the Council of Presidents for State Trial Lawyer Associations and more locally, as the immediate past president of Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge.

In 2004, LeBlanc & Waddell joined forces with Dallas-based Baron & Budd, PC, one of the country’s top plaintiffs’ firms, and with the consolidation of the two firms in 2008, Mr. LeBlanc became a shareholder at Baron & Budd.

On a personal level, Mr. LeBlanc resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is married with four daughters and serves on various leadership committees at both his church and his children’s schools.

 
 
Lisa Blue Baron

President-Elect:
Lisa Blue Baron of Baron & Blue Law Firm in Dallas, TX

Lisa Blue Baron has three decades of experience in asbestos litigation, including the complex field of mesothelioma litigation. Ms. Blue Baron represents parties in civil and personal injury trial, business litigation, estate and trust disputes, and wrongful death cases. The Baron & Blue Law Firm is in Dallas, Texas.

Ms. Blue Baron has been active in AAJ, serving on the AAJ Robert L. Habush Endowment Board of Directors (2009–13), Public Education Committee (2006–12), Key Person Committee (2003–05), and the Labor Liaison Committee (1998–2000). She received the Nancy Pelosi Know Your Power Award (2008) and Diplomate of the National College of Advocacy (2005). In 2004, she published AAJ’s Blue’s Guide to Jury Selection, coauthored with Robert Hirschhorn.

Additionally, Ms. Blue Baron was named one of the top 50 women litigators in the U.S. by The National Law Journal in 2001. She has been honored with the Trial Lawyer of the Year from the Dallas Bar Association (2006), the Louise Raggio Women’s Legal Advocate Award from the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (2007), and the Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award from the Texas Bar Foundation (2008).

Ms. Blue Baron graduated from the University of Georgia in 1973. She earned her M.Ed. in 1974 and her Ed.S. in 1975 from the University of Virginia. She received a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology in 1978 from North Texas State University. In 1980, she earned her J.D. from South Texas College of Law.

 
 

Vice-President:
Larry Tawwater of the Tawwater Law Firm, P.L.L.C., in Oklahoma City, OK

Larry Tawwater represents consumers in many types of litigation involving defective products, explosions, nursing home abuse, medical negligence, motor vehicle collisions, wrongful conduct by insurance companies, as well as class action suits and mass tort cases. The Tawwater Law Firm is based in Oklahoma City.
 
In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Tawwater has been involved in lobbying on behalf of the Oklahoma Association for Justice for passage of legislation protecting consumer rights and was appointed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to help revise the Court’s own rules and draft jury instructions for use in civil trials in Oklahoma. He has also lectured extensively, presenting more than 30 papers on trial practice to various lawyer groups, and speaking frequently at law schools.
 
Mr. Tawwater is active in the American Association for Justice and has served on the Executive Committee and the Board of Governors. He chairs the Budget Committee and is a past chair of the Subcommittee on AAJ’s Defined Benefit Pension Plan. He is a winner of the Wiedemann & Wysocki Citation of Excellence (2010, 2003, 2002, 1996), the Certificate of Recognition (2007), and the Distinguished Service Award (2009, 2008). He is also a past president of the Oklahoma Association for Justice.
 
Mr. Tawwater earned his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma (1969) and his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law (1972).

 

 
 

Secretary:
Julie Braman Kane of Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, FL

Julie Braman Kane, partner with Colson Hicks Edison, has more than 15 years of experience in personal injury, medical negligence, products liability, and commercial and class action litigation.

Ms. Kane has been active in AAJ, serving in various roles for more than 25 boards, committees, and task forces. She has been honored with the Wiedemann & Wysocki Award (multiple years), the New Lawyers Division Joe Tonahill Award (2008), the Women’s Caucus Marie Lambert Award (2008), and a Distinguished Service Award (2005).

Additionally, Ms. Kane is a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Justice Association, where she has chaired the Women’s Caucus and the New Lawyers Division. She currently is a Commissioner of the Florida Elections Commission. She has served in leadership roles for the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Dade County Bar Association.

Ms. Kane is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Miami (1990). She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law (1993), where she was a Dean’s Merit Scholar and the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Book Award in Commercial Law II, as well as inducted into the legal honor societies of Phi Delta Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa.

 
 
Treasurer: Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, PC in Bridgeport, CT

Kathleen Nastri's focus is on medical malpractice, personal injury and other complex cases. Kathleen recently won the largest medical malpractice verdict in Connecticut history, for a Norwalk family whose son suffered a birth injury that resulted in cerebral palsy.

In June 2003, Kathleen was elected president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers' Association (CTLA) after previously serving as the vice president and treasurer.
In 2013, Kathleen was elected treasurer of the American Association of Justice. She previously served on the Board of Governors of the American Association of Justice as state senator.

Before joining KK&B she had been head of the Plaintiff's Personal Injury Practice Group at a Waterbury-based law firm, where she began assisting clients in 1986.

She is admitted to practice at the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as in Connecticut state courts. 

Kathleen is a Fellow, Connecticut Bar Foundation, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

 
 
Parliamentarian: Elise R. Sanguinetti of Sanguinetti Law in Oakland, CA

Elise Sanguinetti, of Sanguinetti Law in Oakland, CA, has exclusively represented plaintiffs in civil litigation for more than 15 years. Her focus of expertise is serious injury, wrongful death cases, civil appeals and legal malpractice. Ms. Sanguinetti holds an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell, has been named a California Super Lawyer every year since eligible, received the Women Leaders in Law recognition in 2012 by The Recorder newspaper and was named to the 2013 Top 50 Women Lawyers list for Northern California.

Elise graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctor. She was admitted into the California state bar in 1997. When Elise is not in the courtroom, she is a frequent speaker at seminars and writes articles that are featured in various legal publications. Her copious amount of work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors including the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Joe Tonahill Award (2010), Outstanding and Dedicated Service Award (2010), Woman Consumer Advocate of the Year Award, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) (2012), AAJ Weidemann & Wysocki, Citation of Excellence (2004, 2007 & 2013), Presidential Award of Merit, CAOC (2010 – 2012), AAJ Distinguished Service Award, (2010 & 2011), Outstanding Service Award, Trial Lawyers Care (2004), and the Outstanding Contributions Award, AAJ New Lawyers Division (2003 - 2004, 2011).

Elise has chaired or served on over 20 committees and taskforces for AAJ. She is a Past President of the Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association and the First Vice President of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

 
 

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