Business Politics

American Association for Justice

American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America)

What they represent

The American Justice Association is an international coalition of attorneys, paralegals, law professors and law students. AAJ represents plaintiffs or complainants in trials and advocates an individual’s right to a trial by jury. The association also promotes disclosure of vital information that is of great importance to the public.


The largest trial bar in the world, AAJ started from simple beginnings. Founded on August 6, 1946 in Portland, Oregon, nine trial lawyers who were seeking to promote strong representations for victims of industrial accidents founded the group called National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorney (NACCA). The association attracted attention and soon represented almost all facets of law, including personal injury and admiralty.

Reflecting its growing commitments, NACCA changed its name 3 times. In 1973, it was known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). Finally, in 2006, ATLA members voted to change the name to the American Association for Justice (AAJ).

Presently, members of the American Association for Justice number 56,000 worldwide.

Major issues

Current issues or actions being championed by the AAJ include thwarting any and all attempts of tort reform. The AAJ lobbies heavily against any legislative attempts that might hamper or slow down the ability of a complainant to file any lawsuits against offending parties. They focus mostly on healthcare providers, insurance companies, and asbestos companies. Such moves are highly criticized by various institutions, notably the Defense Research Institute (a coalition of defense lawyers) and the United States Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations suggest that changes in the law of tort can minimize or restrict a large number of lawsuits that are found lacking in merit and consequently will reduce the number of incidents wherein wrong judgments were made.

The American Association for Justice advocates the need for education, believing that education strengthens the civil justice system.

Some interesting facts about the American Association for Justice:

  • The American Association for Justice was founded in Heathman Hotel, which still operates today. The Heathman Hotel is one of Portland’s historical landmarks.
  • Starting as the National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorneys, the association went to change their group’s name three times before settling with their current name. The names they operated under were: National Association of Claimants’ Counsel of America (1960); American Trial Lawyers Association (1964); and Association of Trial Lawyers of America (1972).
  • The American Association for Justice also sponsors “mock trial” competitions across the United States. The contest, dubbed as the “Student Trial Advocacy Competition,” is one of the biggest imitation trials held annually across the country. Of late, over 200 teams have competed. Law schools and students see the contest as an opportunity to showcase their trial skills in front of distinguished persons in the field of law.
  • The American Association for Justice, aside from doing legal battles and dispensing legal advice to its clients, has been active with charitable works. After the attacks on World Trade Center, the group launched the “Trial Lawyers Care” (TLC) project. Their goal was to help the victims and family members of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. TLC has provided over 1000 representations worth US$20 million, with no charge at all. TLC also founded the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to aid the victims of the hurricane and distribute supplies and medical services in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.