President's Page

Tawwater.jpg Larry A. Tawwater

A partner at the Tawwater Law Firm in Oklahoma City, Mr. Tawwater served as AAJ vice president in 2013-14, secretary in 2012-13, treasurer in 2011-12, and parliamentarian in 2010-11. He has served on the Board of Governors since 1988. He has chaired the Audit, Budget, and Legal Affairs committees, the ABA Task Force, and the National Finance Council, and he is a Pound Civil Justice Institute Fellow. He has also served as a member of the Executive Committee, Enfranchisement Task Force, and Center for Constitutional Litigation Advisory Committee, as well as a president of the Oklahoma Association for Justice. He has received the Wiedemann and Wysocki Award four times and the Distinguished Service Award twice, and he was a 2014 finalist for Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Mr. Tawwater earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1969 and his J.D. from the school's College of Law in 1972.

Insisting on Reason and Fairness

August 2015

Welcome to the August edition of Trial, AAJ’s award-winning magazine. Each year, the August issue marks the start of a new AAJ presidency, and this year, it is my good fortune to serve as your president.

The journey for a kid from Midwest City, Okla., to president of the nation’s most powerful trial lawyer organization has been an adventure. I was attracted to the law early. My grandfather was a county judge in Hardeman County, Texas, and I can remember sitting in the back of his courtroom as a youngster, feeling awe and fascination. I read Irving Stone’s Clarence Darrow for the Defense, Louis Nizer’s My Life in Court, and, of course, To Kill A Mockingbird. I admired what I viewed as the law’s insistence on reason and fairness.

My dad, a WWII veteran, continued to work for the Air Force as a civilian after his military service. He had a strong work ethic and an even stronger sense of doing what’s right. Today, at 94, he still freely provides me his point of view. My mother was warm and had a wonderful sense of humor. We lost her several years ago, but her love of laughter still influences me.

I attended the University of Oklahoma for both my undergraduate and law degrees. I started my legal career with a plaintiff firm, where I learned from some of the finest trial lawyers Oklahoma has produced. I found that representing plaintiffs fit perfectly with my vision of the law: helping people achieve a level of fairness.

Through the years of my practice, I’ve represented a large number of clients in various types of cases. I’ve experienced time and again how the civil justice system can make a difference in our clients’ lives. I’ve experienced working for clients who have been devastated, and, from them, I’ve learned the true meaning of courage and inner strength. And even though I’ve been in many courtrooms many times, every time I walk into one, I still get the same feeling I had as a kid: awe and fascination.

I sought a leadership role in AAJ because I love this organization and I wanted to do my part to ensure its continued strength. There are those who wish fervently that the Seventh Amendment did not exist and work diligently to undermine it. At every turn, AAJ has stood up to them. The attacks are not just in Congress. They are in state legislatures, in regulatory agencies, in rulemaking bodies, and in the courts. In each of these arenas, AAJ is there to protect our clients’ rights. It is not hyperbole to say AAJ is the most important guardian our civil justice system has; it is a statement of fact.

Today we face one of the most vicious attacks on the Seventh Amendment ever conceived: forced arbitration. It is pervasive and insidious, and it is flying under the radar of most people. Hidden in the fine print of millions of agreements is a stealth provision that tricks consumers into giving up their Seventh Amendment rights. This unconscionable conduct will be stopped only when the public realizes what is happening and demands an end to it. To make that happen, we’ll need your help. On p. 32 of this issue, you’ll find an article by Karla Gilbride and Paul Bland on forced arbitration. Please read it and get involved. I plan to focus on forced arbitration this year, and I will continue to call on you to help.

This year I will have a unique set of opportunities: to work with as talented and dedicated a group of officers as one could imagine; to work closely with Linda Lipsen and the incredible AAJ staff, a group whose brilliance is exceeded only by its passion; to serve a membership that works tirelessly--often against great odds--to bring reason and fairness to those who have been wronged; and to protect one of the bedrocks of our democracy, the civil justice system.

The members of AAJ are its greatest asset. If you are engaged, we will continue to be successful. I am excited to serve as your president this year. I sincerely hope you will join me in carrying out AAJ’s mission.