Trial Lawyers’ Dual Grip on Pennsylvania Politics and Public Opinion Revealed in New ATRA Reports

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ATRA’s Latest Studies Reveal Financial Influence and Lack of Transparency in Pennsylvania’s Campaign Finance Systems

Today, two new reports from the American Tort Reform Association uncovered the pervasive influence of trial lawyers on Pennsylvania’s legal and political landscapes.

ATRA sheds light on the intersection of law, politics, and public opinion with the release of the two studies on excessivelegal services advertising and campaign contributions from plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The first report analyzes plaintiffs’ lawyers’ political donations in Pennsylvania since 2017 and unveils a concerning pattern of strong financial backing of candidates from the state trial bar, highlighting potential conflicts of interest and undue influence in state politics.

Since 2017, overall contributions to LawPAC, the state trial bar’s PAC, and the Committee for a Better Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers’ Association’s PAC, exceed $15.3 million. The Top 4 plaintiffs’ firm donors to these PACs are: Kline & Specter; Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, PC; Ross Feller Casey; and, Feldman Shepherd. All four gave more than $1 million since 2017.

The Top 2 recipients of trial bar campaign contributions, Justice Daniel McCaffery of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Judge Maria McLaughlin of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, received $1.8 million and $1.1 million respectively since 2017. Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness, a group funded by “traditional Democratic allies in organized labor and the Philadelphia trial bar,” also received more than $1 million in donations.

The report also notes issues with Pennsylvania’s campaign finance system including the lack of a robust search functionality and certain disclosures that are not required as in other states.

“This lack of transparency means that it’s difficult to learn the full impact that trial lawyers have on Pennsylvania’s political system, but certainly raises concerns about the potential influence on elected officials and fairness,” Tiger Joyce, ATRA president said. “These reports show clearly the need for transparency and reform in Pennsylvania.”  

The second report provides an in-depth analysis of legal services advertising in Pennsylvania’s 11 media markets, revealing a $161.9 million expenditure on more than 1.4 million local legal services advertisements in 2023 alone. This comprehensive study encompasses a spectrum of mediums, including print, digital, radio, outdoor, and spot TV.

The report highlights trends since 2019, including increases in out-of-home and radio advertising, with outdoor advertising witnessing a 62% surge in spending. Moreover, radio ads experienced a substantial uptick, with spending and quantity increasing by 51% and 60%.

Personal injury claims emerged as the predominant focus of legal services advertising in Pennsylvania, accounting for 57% of all ads in 2023. Notably, personal injury lawyers allocated more than $63.8 million toward advertising, emphasizing their relentless pursuit of clients involved in vehicle, motorcycle, and construction accidents. An additional $19.4 million was spent on ads seeking claimants for product liability suits, with Roundup®, talcum powder, acetaminophen, and social media addiction among the top product liability advertisements.

The top legal services advertisers in Pennsylvania wield substantial financial clout, collectively spending millions to saturate the advertising space. However, what is perhaps more alarming is the crossover between top advertisers and campaign donors, highlighting influence not only in the political sphere but in shaping public perceptions.

Pond Lehocky, Edgar Snyder & Associates, Kline & Specter, and Lundy Law, all prominent advertisers, are also among the top campaign donors.

Beyond the political arena, ATRA underscores the dire economic and individual consequences of excessive tort costs in Pennsylvania. Every Pennsylvanian bears a staggering “tort tax” burden of more than $1,430 annually, exacerbating financial strain and contributing to the loss of more than 171,000 jobs statewide each year.

“These reports are a clarion call for transparency, accountability, and reform within Pennsylvania’s legal and political systems,” Joyce said. “By shedding light on the insidious influence of trial lawyers, we hope to catalyze meaningful action and restore public trust in our legal and political institutions.”

For a comprehensive overview of the reports, including detailed methodology and additional insights, visit

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