President's Page: Reframing the Debate

Focus on the Future

February 19, 2007

This article was originally published in the Minnesota Trial Lawyer magazine Volume 32, No. 1 (Winter 2007).  It is reprinted with the permission of the Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association.

By choosing our profession, we have made a commitment to individuals and families who have suffered injustice.  We battle for them in the courts to obtain fair compensation from wrongdoers who refuse to accept responsibility.  We battle for justice at the Capital to make sure that laws level the playing field in the battle between the powerful and our clients – the powerless.  We are often the only voice, and sometimes the only hope, for those whose lives have been forever harmed by wrongdoers whose primary goal is to put profit before safety, accountability and justice.

For longer than I can remember, we have been on the defensive.  The jury pool has been poisoned by decades of smear campaigns by big insurance companies, the drug and oil industries and other big corporations.  We’ve been on the defensive in the courtroom.  The rich tortfeasors’ lobby has been unrelenting in its efforts to convince our lawmakers to tip the scales in their favor to the great harm of Minnesota individuals and families.  We’ve been on the defensive to stop the tort deform train.

But now, it is time for us to reframe the debate.  This is the focus of our future.  It is time the public learn the truth.  It is time that laws respect individuals and families.  It is time for a rebirth of Justice.  Now is the time to act.

We are acting now.  We, along with partners like the American Association for Justice, are embarking on an aggressive communications plan to educate the public on the value of the civil justice system and the attorneys who work within it to bring justice to their clients.  We are in the process of hiring a communications expert.  We do all this in an effort to teach the truth to those who will sit on our juries and those who will make our laws.  Beginning this year, laws will be passed to help the powerless we are so honored to represent.  We’ve been on the defensive for too long. 

As an integral part of this effort, our Board of Governors, our Executive Committee, and our Name Change Task Force have overwhelmingly voted to recommend to the our membership a vote on a change in our organization’s name to better reflect our mission that what stand for (Justice) is more important than who we are (Trial Lawyers).  This vote will take place at our Mid-Winter Convention in Duluth on March 3, 2007.  Please be there.  Cast an informed vote (or see that someone does by your proxy).  See our web site:( as well as upcoming mailings for more information.

We are about Justice and our name should reflect that truth.  The focus of our future is to reframe the debate and the time to do so is now.

The articles on our website include some of the publications and papers authored by our attorneys, both before and after they joined our firm. The content of these articles should not be taken as legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or official position of Robins Kaplan LLP.


Chris Messerly

Retired | Inactive

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