SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)- Trial attorneys from around the country have converged on San Francisco for the next several days.
The reason is simple. They have come to network, enjoy the city's offerings, and to above all else learn new, more effective ways of suing individuals and businesses.
Attendees are taking part in the annual convention of the American Association for Justice, formerly known as the American Trial Lawyers Association.
The convention offers a bevy of seminars on emerging areas of litigation, including sections called "Funeral Services Litigation Group," "Heart Devices Litigation Group," Preemption Task Force" and "Securities Litigation Group."
In addition to talks on how to sue for more money and do it more effectively, the attending plaintiffs' lawyers have a chance to hear speeches by such Washington heavyweights as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Bob Martinez of New Jersey.
Also speaking at special venues for AAJ's top supporters are: U.S. Rep. Harry Waxman, D-Calif., and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Dana Sullivan, the incoming president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, said she came to San Francisco to network with other litigators and trial lawyer leaders.
Sullivan, an employment lawyer in Portland, noted that the nation's sour economy has affected dramatically how jurors relate to those seeking compensation for alleged wrongdoing.
"The economy is impacting jurors' perceptions of what would constitute fair compensation for injuries," said Sullivan, a named partner in the law firm of Buchanan Angeli Altschul & Sullivan LLP.
For her practice, she said: "Because there are more jurors that have experienced job loss or have family friends who have there is less empathy (among) jurors" when it comes to awarding damages.
Among the dozens of vendors packed into multiple ball rooms at the swanky Hilton San Francisco are experts on just how to help evoke empathy from jurors.
Additionally, there are tailors and banks promoting their products along side traditional law-related vendors, including structured settlement firms, case management software makers and lawyer advertising firms.