Vol. 57 No. 12

Trial Magazine

President's Page

A Better Place

Navan Ward Jr. December 2021

Thanks to AAJ and its members, somebody’s car did not explode into flames today; somebody’s drinking water did not poison them today; somebody’s surgeon did not harm them today. When you wake up each day, please remember this: The world is indisputably a better place because of you.

Because of our trial lawyer community, we have safer products, cleaner air, better protection for patients, and more corporate accountability. Trial lawyers stand on the right side of history and have changed the world forever.

As AAJ commemorates its 75th anniversary, I have been reflecting on our association’s profound impact on our country. AAJ has been a shining light for many, a refuge for the powerless, and a beacon of justice for those harmed by the negligence or misconduct of others. We all owe a debt of gratitude to this historic association.

AAJ’s positive influence reaches into all corners of our society. Closing out the anniversary year with this special issue of Trial, we are highlighting some of the areas in which trial lawyers and civil justice have made a difference: transportation (p. 8); nursing homes (p. 32); drugs and devices (p. 38); police misconduct and qualified immunity (p. 46); the environment (p. 92); medical negligence (p. 98); and employment and workers’ rights (p. 104).

AAJ’s story began with two lawyers—Ben Marcus and Sam Horovitz—who decided a national organization was needed to educate workers’ compensation lawyers and provide a forum for them to share ideas. With nine other labor lawyers, they founded the National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorneys (NACCA). A vibrant community was born that grew through the decades both in numbers and scope.

Throughout the 1950s, NACCA expanded its membership to include all personal injury lawyers and become a broader tort law organization. In response to tort “reform” propaganda, the association—then, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA®)—expanded in the 1970s beyond educating trial lawyers to include advocacy in Congress for clients’ rights.

Ever since, AAJ has succeeded on many fronts for civil justice on Capitol Hill while remaining the leader in educating trial lawyers. Today, we continue to repel our opponents’ attacks as we fight to end forced arbitration, raise the federal trucking insurance minimum, eliminate qualified immunity, and protect many other rights. Just last year, AAJ fought off attempts to grant broad liability immunity to corporations during the pandemic.

AAJ is always outnumbered but never outmatched—holding the line against attacks on our clients’ rights. Corporate America may have more money, more resources, and more raw power than we do. But we have something you can’t buy or sell—a just cause backed by women and men nationwide who won’t stop until we obtain justice.

In honor of AAJ, please celebrate 75 years by doing anything extra to support its mission—make more calls to increase membership; join, upgrade, or encourage other members to join AAJ PAC or Leaders Forum; participate in political fundraisers; help protect voting rights through VPAC; make a pledge to the Evergreen Fund; or volunteer for a Trial Lawyers Care project.

Every day, I remind myself that the world is a better place because of AAJ and its members. After 75 years, not only are we still standing, but we’re just getting started.

Navan Ward Jr. is a principal at Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles in Atlanta and can be reached at navan.ward@justice.org.