Democratic Leader Harry Reid Remarks to the Trial Lawyers
On June 12, 2015 Democratic Senate Leader
Harry Reid, himself a former lawyer, gave a speech to a group of trial lawyers on
the importance of what they do. The speech is reproduced in-full, below:
“Nobody likes trial lawyers until they need one. Then, we become
weapons. Business people sometimes joke with each other, saying “My
lawyer can beat your lawyer.” It might be funny but it’s no joke.
“In the general public’s view, we are the weapons of the ruling
class. Weapons with which to devastate anyone - or anything - blocking
the path to domination. But nothing could be further from the truth.
“Weapons we may be, but weapons with highly effective safeties; the
safety mechanisms of the bar, the cannons of ethics, and above all, our
own sense of justice and honor. Weapons indeed, not assault weapons, but
rather a sword and shield – a shield to defend the meek, the poor,
the powerless, the victimized. These are not empty words.
“You know, nobody likes trial lawyers. Nobody who addicts children
to tobacco; nobody who puts lead in paint; nobody who pumps mercury into
groundwater; nobody who sells improperly tested pharmaceuticals.
“Nobody likes trial lawyers. Nobody who ignores worker safety in
factories; nobody who manufacturers a faulty airbag knowing it’s
dangerous; nobody who puts asbestos into the environment.
“Nobody likes trial lawyers. Nobody who pollutes the earth and skies;
nobody who produces contaminated food; nobody who pedals lethal baby cribs
or toys; nobody who negligently operates offshore oil wells.
“Nobody likes trial lawyers...until they need one.
“The average person has never needed a trial lawyer, and, for the
most part, they don’t know what we do. The Chamber of Commerce paints
us as a group that impedes personal freedom, fabricates problems that
don’t exist, and enriches the undeserving. Other people see us as
tools for corporate interests, and believe we’re used to manipulate
the system in their favor. Nothing could be further from the truth. In
fact, just the opposite is true.
“We are champions, used to defend the meek, the poor, the powerless,
the victimized. We do battle with those who would, otherwise, oppress
“These are not empty words. I loved trial lawyer work as a lawyer.
I had over a hundred trials, and the greatest compliment I ever received
was when someone said my work was “lawyerlike”. Nobody likes
trial lawyers until they need one. Nobody likes trial lawyers until they
are the ones who have been injured, hurt, taken advantage of, or threatened
by those in power.
“We are protectors of the downtrodden. We are protectors of those
not knowing what to do. We are protectors of those that are afraid. We
are everyday men and women who work hard, play by the rules, and who often
take tremendous chances, investing years of our lives in pursuit of justice
for a client scorned and ignored by the rich and powerful. We are people
who believe in the equal justice promised by our Constitution, in the
rules of law envisioned by our Declaration of Independence, and in its
core promise that everyone is indeed, created equal with rights to life
and liberty, which cannot be ignored or taken away.”