FOR RELEASE: Wednedsay, July 24, 2002
Contact: Bob Weiner/Joe Hammer 301-283-0821 / 202-361-0611


Convention Included Gephardt, Carville, Edwards, Cleland, Lewis, Young

Vows to Educate Public about Critical Role by Lawyers in Fighting for Victims,
Protecting Nation from Corporate Malfeasance and Defective Products;
Will Enhance Trial Lawyers Care’s Free Assistance to 9/11 Victims’ Families

    (Washington) -- Mary E. Alexander, a leading San Francisco consumer advocacy attorney, is set to assume the presidency of the 60,000-member Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) at its national convention in Atlanta, Georgia, July 21-25.  Alexander, currently president-elect, will succeed Leo V. Boyle as president after her formal election on July 24.  She is former president of the Consumer Attorneys of California and has served ATLA as vice-president and chair of state presidents.

      Alexander will address the membership at 9:30 AM at the election meeting and 8 PM at the closing dinner on Wednesday, July 24. The events will occur at Atlanta's Hyatt Regency Hotel, Centennial Room, located at 265 Peachtree Street N.E.

      The ATLA National Convention in Atlanta has included participation by House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, Presidential political strategist James Carville, Senator John Edwards (D-NC), Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), Congressman John Lewis, and Former U.N. Ambassador-Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

    "Despite many popular current TV shows about the courtroom, we need to better educate the public about the critical role lawyers play in fighting against special interests and in protecting the nation from defective products and services," Alexander stated.  “This role is more important than ever in view of recent revelations of corporate malfeasance, and ATLA is working with Congress on protections against fraud.”   Alexander is issuing a "Five Point Call to Action" including "to better educate the public about the civil justice system and the image of lawyers; challenge the erosion of the right to trial by jury in the courts; elect Congressional leaders who will help protect the rights of consumers; defeat so-called 'tort reform' bills and fight for the rights of consumers in congress and the states; and strengthen ATLA's membership with broader and increased value to members."

      Alexander helped to establish, and pledged to enhance, a growing network of more than 2500 free lawyers to assist 9/11 terrorist victims' families. More than 1,200 9/11 victims' families have been matched so far with Trial Lawyers Care volunteer attorneys, who will handle their claims under the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund at absolutely no charge.  The largest pro bono (free) legal services program ever undertaken, Trial Lawyers Care was established by ATLA and state trial lawyers associations in the aftermath of last fall's terrorist attacks.

    Alexander said that "more victim families are seeking these free legal services as time goes on, and we want to help them achieve some closure and get on with their lives. This is an example of trial lawyers at our best, doing what we do every day - representing people hurt through no fault of their own." She also helped institute a moratorium on lawsuits regarding 9/11 in order to provide prompt assistance through the federal compensation plan, designed with ATLA's guidance. "We said that if the nation was going to help the airlines and the property owners, we must first help the victims themselves and their families--and Congress listened to us."

      Alexander herself is a Trial Lawyers Care volunteer, whose September 11 clients include the father of a young woman killed when Flight 93 crashed in a farm in Pennsylvania en route to Washington  and the father of a young woman Navy ensign at the Pentagon killed by the airplane crash there while sitting at her desk, having moved to that side of the building just two weeks before.

      Alexander has won landmark victims' rights cases including a record verdict of $13.3 million concerning bicycle product liability, a $2.2 million jury verdict record award in California for asbestos, and the largest settlement ever against the City and County of San Francisco, $4 million, for a pedestrian run over by a city bus who was permanently disabled and requires lifetime health care.

      Alexander will divide her time between ATLA's Washington offices and her new San Francisco office, which she opened on April 20 at 44 Montgomery Street with a ceremony attended by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Alexander said that her San Francisco office will be "a national center for victims' rights."

      As ATLA President, Alexander will be the spokesperson for the organization and will set its policy agenda and appoint its committees. She will also be traveling to ATLA state gatherings to discuss current issues with members.

      Alexander obtained her law degree at the University of Santa Clara, Masters of Public Health at the University of California Berkeley, and B.A. at the University of Iowa.  Alexander is the former president of the Consumer Attorneys of California and is a board member of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association. Her husband, Skip Faulkner, is a Vietnam combat veteran and a businessman, and her father, Theron Alexander, Ph.D., is a noted child psychologist and book author on strategies for raising children.

    (Media seeking interviews of Ms. Alexander, please contact Bob Weiner or Joe Hammer at 202-361-0611 or 301-283-0821)

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