|Purpose||Oppose tort reform|
The American Association for Justice (AAJ), formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) is a nonprofit advocacy and lobbying organization for plaintiff's lawyers in the United States. AAJ's stated mission is to "promote a fair and effective justice system." Focused on opposing tort reform, the organization is one of the Democratic Party's most influential political allies, according to the Washington Post.
In 1946, a group of plaintiffs' attorneys involved in workers' compensation litigation founded the National Association of Claimants' Compensation Attorneys (NACCA). As their work broadened beyond workers' compensation, in 1960 the NACCA changed its name to the National Association of Claimants' Counsel of America, and four years later, to the American Trial Lawyers Association. In 1972, these groups merged as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). In 1977, ATLA's headquarters moved from Boston to Washington, D.C.
In 2006, ATLA became the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Around the same time, a group of attorneys quietly began forming a competitor organization to AAJ. The competitor organization called itself The American Trial Lawyers Association, or TheATLA. TheATLA solicited thousands of AAJ's members to join. AAJ filed suit to force TheATLA to drop the name, arguing it was confusing AAJ members and infringing a trademark held by AAJ.
The association has been criticized by organizations such as the United States Chamber of Commerce for its role as a special interest and lobbying group promoting the interests of plaintiffs' lawyers. In 2006, ATLA's membership voted to change their name to the American Association for Justice. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded by again criticizing the organization.