February 27, 2020

President’s Address:

ABPLA President

I owe each of you an apology. Here it is the end of February, and I am only now dictating my first Presidents Address of the year. My, how time flies when you're having fun!

My January was an absolute blur. Monday, January 6, 2020 was my first trial call. Although I did manage to spend some quality time with family through the holidays, I will remember this time most as trial preparation, though the case did not involve professional negligence.

 Billy was only 23 years old when the scooter he was operating was struck by a negligently driven car. Billy was catastrophically injured. Traumatic brain injury of the worst kind-axonal shearing throughout the brain. Not mild. Not moderate. Catastrophic.

The case necessitated eight damage experts alone. Physical medicine and rehabilitation, case management and life care planning, neurosurgery, orthopedics, neuropsychology, vocational, and economics.  And then there was liability...

After much work, on January 6, 2020, I appeared "Ready for the Plaintiff! " Then came the inevitable letdown. No trial courts available. Come back in six months.

Sometimes it is hard explaining to our families why we miss so many family events in the service of others. An inescapable reality that we all know much too well is that as trial lawyers we have little control over our own calendars. Sometimes unknown judges seem to control our very existence. And yet none of us would trade professions.  A trial lawyer is one of the noblest professions of them all. Sometimes we need remind ourselves of that.

I know just the place where we can do that! On October 15-17th, 2020 at the JW Marriott - Desert Ridge in Scottsdale, Arizona, we will be holding our National Legal & Medical Malpractice Conference. Put it in your calendar now. I repeat, put it in your calendar now. Plan to be there. Where else can you recharge your batteries with great friends and your ABPLA family?

John Romano, Adam Malone, Grace Weatherly, Bill McMurry, Les Weisbrod, Bill Callaham, and Jim Bostwick will "WOW” you, to say the least. Moreover, our program this year is heavily weighted on the medical negligence side with physicians and other medical specialists. The legal negligence side is broad-based with emphasis on ethics. So, to be blunt, this is a conference you will not want to miss. Bring your golf clubs, your swimsuit, your suntan lotion, your hiking boots, your tennis rackets, and whatever else suits your Arizona purposes. The point is-be there.

Though I have been remiss in getting at least my January Address out to you, we have been very busy working with various accrediting organizations and board certifying organizations around the country, including the American Bar Association.  We are working to assure your board certification remains not only relevant to the accrediting organization(s), but also ensuring board certification is on the path to be the gold standard for the consumer of legal services when seeking representation. 

There have been many discussions regarding fees and outreach to the public regarding certification, during the ABA’s restructuring of the Center for Professional Responsibility (which used to house the ABA Section on Specialization).  We do know the ABA is dedicated to Board Certification and in ensuring it remains a prominent achievement for attorneys around the country.  Due to the lobbying of the ABPLA and other organizations, there will be no new fee increases this year with the ABA, which is great news for all Board Certifying Organizations and Board Certified Specialists.

The ABPLA has recently been reaccredited by California, South Carolina, and currently have conditional approval in Florida.  The conditional approval in Florida is that any attorney in Florida seeking NEW certification in Medical Malpractice or Legal Malpractice by the ABPLA must already be Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar of Legal Specialization.  While not ideal, for seeking new Certifications, this allows the ABPLA to specifically target attorneys who are familiar with and understand the significance of Board Certification. We will keep you posted on any progress in this arena.

Bill McMurry, past President, will be representing the ABPLA at the American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable in Washington D.C. hosted by ABOTA in March.  The ABPLA is the only national certifying organization in the country who has a seat at this roundtable, which brings together leaders of the major civil trial bar organizations and the ABA to work together in the continuation and preservation of the civil trial justice system. The Roundtable remains active in developing a well-reasoned and balanced approach to civil trial justice issues and is a voice in preserving and promoting the civil jury trial right and an independent and impartial judiciary. Mary Alexander of San Francisco's Mary Alexander & Associates leads the Roundtable for ABOTA, and at a recent dinner expressed interest in working closely with ABPLA.

So, in closing, ABPLA continues to strongly represent your interests moving forward in your practice. I hope to see you in Scottsdale!

Randall H. Scarlett
Scarlett Law Group
536 Pacific Avenue
Barbary Coast Building
San Francisco, CA  94133