Last year, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America decided that a few among their ranks had brought disrepute to the trial lawyers' reputation. So they decided to take a stand against the bad actors in their ranks and call for reforms to reduce outrageous lawsuits.
At last year's meeting, the trial lawyers instead decided the easier solution was a new name: the American Association for Justice, a moniker created to be, in their words, "about what we do, not who we are."
Their game plan isn't just to rename the national organization, but to convince all of the state trial lawyer associations to follow suit. And so far, at least 13 states have voted to replace "trial lawyer" with "association for justice," with several more states reportedly set to make the change.
There's no question that a re-branding effort for the trial bar is necessary. They remain at a nearly all-time low in public opinion polls. Eighty five percent of voters believe frivolous lawsuits are a serious problem; 75 percent believe lawyers benefit most from lawsuits.
But adding the word "justice" to their name doesn't make what some of them do just.
Lisa A. Rickard serves as president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), where she provides strategic leadership to ILR's comprehensive program aimed at changing the legal culture that has resulted in our nation's litigation explosion.