COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers -- the professional organization for the 2,000 attorneys who sue doctors and businesses, butchers, bakers and Indian chiefs -- has decided switch its name to the "Ohio Association for Justice." It will take full effect by year's end. The Michigan Trial Lawyers are doing the same thing, but the decision there has been sharply criticized by that state's Chamber of Commerce, which calls it deceptive advertising.
Michigan's business community blast at the lawyers was delivered in tandem with the American Justice Partnership, which is a coalition of corporations and trade associations that is also critical of lawyers. Overall, it is beginning to look like everybody who duels in the legal arena is glomming onto the word "justice" for their titles. These legal monikers almost tiptoe up to the Justice League of America. Any closer and they'd probably wind up in a trademark/copyright infringement action filed by DC Comics.
Dan Pero heads the American Justice Partnership (the pro-business group). He sees the lawyers trying to fool the public, and there were comparisons to putting lipstick on a pig:
"The public is sick and tired of personal injury lawyers suing everyone for everything so they can make money off the settlements. With this name change, they are trying to portray themselves as white knights even though they act like Darth Vader, attacking everything from summers camps and community playgrounds to mom and pop grocery stores."
In Michigan, there are moves in the legislature to ease tort reform laws that have made it harder to win or pursue lawsuits in that state. When the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers voted a few months ago to change its name, President Rhonda G. Davis explained:
"We believe the new name better reflects our mission and what we stand for -- fighting for justice for our clients every day. We are advocates of justice who fight so that any person can exercise their Constitutional right to hold powerful interests accountable for wrongdoing."