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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Justice Association Name Changes: An Outgoing President’s Prospective

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A colleague forwarded an article written by David Pishko (who I don’t know and have never had the pleasure of meeting). David is the outgoing president of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. The Article is entitled "When Will We Change our Name Again?.

You see, as with many other "justice" associations, North Carolina’s recently renamed itself, abandoning its’ long-used "North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers". And, like I was in Michigan (when we decided to go with "The Michigan Association for Justice" instead of "Michigan Trial Lawyers Association"), David was, initially, opposed to the name change in North Carolina. Why were we opposed? Because, as David says in his well-written piece, we did not want to concede anything to or give in to the "forces of corporate greed" that had "stigmatized the term ‘trial lawyer’". But, upon reflection, both David and I came to realize that trial lawyers, again, in David’s words, are "advocates for the cause of justice" and the various new names, used by TLA’s around the country, reflect "who we are and what we are about".

Now, as those of you who have followed my work at this post know, I fashion myself as a reasonably proficient writer. But I could not possibly have articulated how "justice associations" or "advocates for justice" truly describe who we are and what we stand for as well as David has in his thoughtful article. The article came to me as a "PDF"; I do not possess the techno-nerd know-how to link it and I don’t know what publication published it (I assume it was the North Carolina Advocates for Justice magazine, whatever that publication is called); so, I will do something that I rarely do: I will quote my brother justice advocate, David’s meaningful and beautiful words in answer to the question, "When Will We Change our Name Again?":

"When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to defend the accused against the power of the State and endure the scorn of the public, it will be time to change our name…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to take on complex and expensive medical negligence cases, and risk their own financial resources in order to seek compensation for their severely injured client, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to represent prisoners on death row in post-conviction proceedings in an effort to end the abomination of capital punishment, it will be time to change our name again….

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to work for meager salaries in order to enure that poor people have access to the civil justice system, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers willing to take on powerful corporate forces in order to obtain compensation for those injured by dangerous products, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who devote their professional lives to the representation of injured workers and who are willing to take on difficult cases in order to advance the law for the benefit of all workers, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers dedicated to insuring that disabled persons receive the benefits to which they are entitled, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes personal injury lawyers who will take cases to trial rather than accept an inaqequate settlement demand, even though they will personally lose money on the case, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who respond instintively when they see a deprivation of civil rights, even when the aggrieved person is hated by society, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are will to sue other lawyers in order to protect the integrity of our profession and to obtain compensation for the victims of negligent representation, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who willingly share their expertise at no charge so that clients of other members will have the benefit of the collective wisdom of the group, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who will spend hours and hours writing briefs and participating in moot court arguments, with a fee, to assist fellow members handling significant cases that may affect the rights of a large number of clients, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to contribute money to political candidates who are receptive to our positions and who share our respect for the civil and criminal justice systems, it will be time to change our name again…

When our membership no longer includes lawyers who are willing to leave their busy practices and…lobby on behalf of the poor, the injured, the disabled, the accused and the disenfranchised, it will be time to change our name again…

When the term "greedy trial lawyers" is descriptive of, rather than insulting to, our members, it will be time to change our name again…

When wer are no longer willing to stand up to elected officials who overstep their authority and disrespect our judicial system, it will be time to change our name again…

When our members view the practice of law as simply a way to make money, rather than a noble profession, it will be time to change our name again…"

In North Carolina, according to David, there is no need for a name change because the members of the organization that he has led for the past year "devote their time, talent, money, hearts, and souls to the pursuit of justice for their clients". I am pleased to report that the same is true for my own Michigan Association for Justice brothers and sisters, who work tirelessly for and are as dedicated to the causes of justice as any lawyers in the country. I am proud to be a member of this marvelous group of professionals; David’s quoted passages about his North Carolina brothers and sisters clearly and succinctly describe the passion and devotion that sustains our Michigan association members, as well.

As you will see in the biography posted below, I also belong to the American Association for Justice and have business affiliations with various other state justice associations. I have experienced and/or seen very little in my 33 year professional career that would cause me to pause when I say that I have never been sorry to call a fellow lawyer "brother" or "sister"; the vast majority of those who have chosen to champion the causes of justice make me proud to have chosen that same, noble pursuit, so long ago.

To David Pishko, to my fellow trial lawyers, justice and safety advocates: Walk proudly my brothers and sisters; "Justice, Justice, Shalt Thou Pursue" (Deut. 16:20).

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit FinancialCorporation which helps provide legal finance, cash flow, solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed while litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Thanks for posting this piece and also for looking at what we really do. Minnesota went through the name change 4 years back. I like the dedication to doing Justice.