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As far as Leo V. Boyle is concerned, there is no profession more powerful in today’s society than that of trial lawyer. The Boston litigator apparently speaks from experience. He has garnered a reputation for securing multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for ordinary people against behemoth entities in corporate America and academia. (Boyle most recently negotiated a $6 million settlement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on behalf of the parents of an MIT sophomore who died during a frat hazing.) After more than three decades in the trenches, Boyle’s enthusiasm about his professional lot in life is steadfast. He says he still gets excited awaiting the possibilities that can occur when he walks into a courtroom. Come July 19, Boyle will take that passion to a higher level when he assumes the helm of the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA). Boyle will become the first Massachusetts president since the organization began in 1946 in Cambridge, Mass. And his agenda is not all that surprising — to preserve the civil justice system. “We’ve had a single mission for a long time and we are consistent and strong and passionate in defending the civil justice system,” says Boyle, whose legal stature transcends state borders. Outgoing ATLA President Fred Baron, partner at the Dallas firm Baron, Baron and Budd, says there are very significant challenges facing the ATLA, but if anyone is ready for the rocky road ahead, it is Boyle. “The civil justice system is under attack and we need a strong person in the job — Leo is that person,” says Baron, referring to national tort reform efforts. Closer to home, Warren Fitzgerald, a longtime partner with Boyle at the law firm Meehan, Boyle, Black & Fitzgerald in Boston, says Boyle’s presidency in the ATLA is a tribute to the state. “I’m excited about his residency because the prominence Massachusetts has in the ATLA has risen dramatically in the last 10 years and its importance in relation to the other states has grown,” says Fitzgerald. “Leo has an effect on Massachusetts lawyers, and what he will be doing will benefit all lawyers in the country. This is a true gift to every lawyer in America.” Michael E. Mone, noted plaintiff lawyer with Esdaile Barrett & Esdaile in Boston, says that Boyle’s compassion for what he does will benefit ATLA and “someone like Leo leading that effort is a great benefit to all trial attorneys and jurors.” “The reality is that the ATLA plays an enormous role in legislative issues, and Massachusetts clearly has an interest in the ATLA,” says Mone. “All lawyers have an interest in their work and to society-Leo has devoted a lot of time to these interests.” Known (and sometimes criticized) for his emotional closing arguments, Boyle remains a true believer in what he does as trial lawyer and admits that it is hard to homogenize emotions in court because the issues championed by trial lawyers profoundly affect people’s lives. “I take what I do very, very seriously because I believe that there are people who are depending upon my level of commitment,” he says. “And if they can’t get me to commit for them, who can they turn to?” REASONABLENESS WILL WIN OUT Given the Republican-charged, pro-business climate in the nation’s capitol, ATLA’s mission of preserving the rights of consumers, accident victims and injured people is going to be tough. “[President] Bush has a great dislike for trial lawyers, he showed that when he was governor of Texas and he managed to pass a number of bills in Texas which severely limited the rights of injured people,” says Boyle, a former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. “But, he’s just one person.” Boyle points to reasonable Democrats and Republicans who see Bush’s anti-consumer and pro-business agenda as misguided because of their values, not because of their political affiliation. “Do you want to have a society where the powerful get more powerful and the little people get even less economic and political power then they have now?” asks Boyle. “I’ve got a great faith in the system and what I love about this fight is that when it gets down to the merits of whether or not you should pass a particular restrictive tort reform bill, if we can ever get the corporate interests into a debate on the merits of the bills, then we would never lose because we are right.” Boyle will commute to Washington, D.C., during his yearlong ATLA presidency and will continue to represent clients in Massachusetts, which he believes has a challenging and tough jury system. “You have to have a thick skin in this business and the best quality you can have is to know how to lose. It’s not a personality contest or a criticism or a failing by you, it’s a process,” says Boyle. “As long as the rules aren’t changed on us and we get a fair fight and we’re allowed to try our case, that’s all we as lawyers can ask for.” At trial, Boyle lives by one basic principle — if you’re right, you’re going to win. “There are fewer jobs where if you work really hard you can force people to change their conduct and make safer products and our system works to do that,” he says. “You have to be prepared to lose cases — if you live by the sword you die by the sword. Remember to keep trying cases and you will get your win, and you will get big wins if you follow that basic principle.” Boyle continues to believe that trial lawyers have had more of an impact on public safety in this country than any other profession — and perhaps more than the federal government — by taking unsafe products off the market, making dramatic changes and improvements to the medical profession and forcing the re-design of everyday machines like automobiles and lawnmowers. “Because of trial lawyers, there are a vastly reduced number of injuries and it’s a safer world for everybody,” says Boyle. “In looking back over 30 years, what feels the best is that we are forcing the companies to make safe products. No one else is capable of doing it or has the power to do it except the American jury.”

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