American Association for Justice
AAJ’s roots can be traced back to August 16, 1946 when a group of nine plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in workers’ compensations litigation met in a hotel room at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Their goal was to put together a plan for a national organization to combat new threats facing trial lawyers across the country. It was at this meeting where it was enthusiastically agreed upon to create a new association by the name, the National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorneys (NACCA). Their devotion to securing strong representation for victims of industrial accidents soon attracted admiralty, railroad, and personal injury lawyers. It wasn’t long before the group included attorneys engaged in almost all facets of trial advocacy.
Reflecting its growth and expanded commitments, NACCA changed its name 3 times before 1973, when it emerged as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). In 1977, ATLA’s headquarters moved from Boston to Washington, DC.
In 2006, ATLA members voted to change the association’s name to the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Today, AAJ is a broad-based, international coalition of attorneys, law professors, paralegals, and law students.
As the world’s largest trial bar, AAJ promotes justice and fairness for injured persons, safeguards victims’ rights–particularly the right to trial by jury–and strengthens the civil justice system through education and disclosure of information critical to public health and safety. With more than 56,000 members worldwide, and a network of U.S. and Canadian affiliates involved in diverse areas of trial advocacy, AAJ provides lawyers with the information and professional assistance needed to serve clients successfully and protect the democratic values inherent in the civil justice system.
Currently AAJ’s National Leaders are President: Les Weisbrod of Dallas, TX, President-Elect: Anthony Tarricone of Boston, MA, Vice President: C. Gibson Vance of Montgomery, AL, Secretary: Gary Paul of El Segundo, CA, Treasurer: Richard M. Golomb of Philadelphia, PA. and Parliamentarian: Burton LeBlanc of Baton Rouge, LA
AAJ has Student Chapters all across the country and Mississippi College School of Law is no exception. Since the majority of our students are from states other than Mississippi and we are becoming increasingly notable nationally, AAJ is invaluable to those who are interested in careers representing plaintiffs in civil actions or criminal defendants either in their home state or if they choose to remain in Mississippi. AAJ offers students unsurpassed networking opportunities, scholarships, mentors, specialized education oftentimes provided by nationally or internationally recognized speakers and a subscription to Trial magazine.
MC Law’s student chapter is fortunate to have Rebecca McRae Langston and Jim Kitchens as our Ambassadors for guidance and assistance as needed. To give you a better idea of how fortunate we are, Rebecca is also an active leader nationally since she is Chairman of AAJ’s New Lawyer Division and Jim is a candidate for the Mississippi Supreme Court. Consequently, we attribute the success and recent surge in our membership of our chapter to the unrelenting dedication, loyalty and hard work Rebecca and Jim have provided. They have been instrumental in bringing Lance Stevens, Merrida Coxwell and nationally recognized and practicing nursing home litigation guru Jim McHugh to provide free education to our members while other would have to pay $1,000’s to see them. Likewise, we are currently working to secure some of the nation’s leaders in Mass Tort pharmaceutical litigation, products liability, consumer fraud and other specialties. Our next meeting will be held jointly with the Mississippi Association for Justice on September 17th and will feature our Ambassador Jim Kitchens. Additionally, the national winter convention will be in New Orleans February 7-11—an outstanding opportunity to network.