NEW YORK, 2012 -- Described by the National Law Journal as the "elite of the plaintiff's trial bar," the Inner Circle of Advocates, a small group of plaintiffs' lawyers, completes its 40th year next week with a convention in Manhattan.
"We have been called a thorn in the side of corporate America," said Connecticut attorney Michael Koskoff, the group’s President, “and I certainly hope that is so.”
The group, founded by Arizona attorney Richard Grand, is limited to 100 lawyers nationally and is restricted to attorneys who have handled multiple jury trials, achieved numerous verdicts of at least seven or eight figures, and are given high grades by both judges and opponents alike.
Some of the group's more well-known members have included former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and the late Johnnie Cochran. Others include Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who will address the New York convention, and Ronald Motley, the attorney known for his lawsuits against the cigarette industry and foreign governments that harbor terrorist organizations.
"Our members have taken on the automobile industry, governments, the pharmaceutical and health care industries, as well as both foreign and domestic manufacturers of dangerous products," Koskoff said. "It really does not matter how big they are. What is important is being a strong advocate for consumers, citizens, and anyone without the perceived power of some of America's corporate behemoths."
"Once these giants get into the courtroom, the battle is one-on-one," Koskoff added. "The jury is the great equalizer."
"Since our inception, our members have made profound changes to the way business is conducted in America, while providing compensation for the victims of corporate malfeasance," said Koskoff.
Other Inner Circle members are prominent legal theoreticians of the plaintiffs’ bar, such as Attys. Rick Friedman of Seattle, Pat Malone of Washington, D.C., and Don Keenan of Atlanta. Another member, Atty. Tom Kline of the Philadelphia-based Kline and Specter, represents one of the victims in the Sandusky case.
"For a tiny group of lawyers from mostly small firms, we make a difference in society, helping those who would otherwise have no voice," Koskoff said.
One of the highlights this year, Koskoff said, was an historic settlement of $8 billion against Visa and Mastercard in a case handled by Inner Circle member, Michael Ciresi, of the Minneapolis-based firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.
"In spite of this and other major victories this year," Koskoff said "We never lose sight of the fact that each one of our victories represents some horrible injury or corporate abuse that always seems to affect the poor or middle class," Koskoff said. "Our greatest reward is in the changes we can make in our clients' lives and the creation of a safer world,"
Koskoff described the Inner Circle as a "think tank" for plaintiffs' lawyers. "At our convention and in other sessions during the year, we share ideas on how we can do our job better."
Other prominent members of the Inner Circle from the New York area include Tom Moore, a noted malpractice attorney. The late New York Justice Jack Fuchsberg also was a member.