Explosive New Reports Uncover Shocking Trends in Legal Advertising and Campaign Contributions in New York State

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ATRA’s Latest Reports Reveal the Deep Ties Between Trial Lawyers and New York Politics

The American Tort Reform Association unveiled two groundbreaking reports that shed light on the influential role of trial lawyers in shaping New York state’s legal landscape.

The first report delves into the staggering sums of money spent by the Top 20 plaintiffs’ firms for statewide political giving. ATRA estimates that since 2017, these firms contributed a combined total of more than $4.7 million into New York political campaigns.

Meanwhile, the second report provides a comprehensive analysis of legal services advertising trends in 2023, comparing the data with figures from 2019 through 2022. This detailed examination reveals the extent to which trial lawyers and their affiliated firms flood the airwaves and digital platforms with ads designed to solicit clients, often with dubious claims and aggressive tactics.

“These reports provide keen insight into the operation of the ‘trial lawyer playbook,’ pointing to a system easily skewed against consumers and taxpayers,” Tiger Joyce, ATRA president said. “Excessive legal advertising creates a culture of litigation and inflates costs. Additionally, the close financial ties between trial lawyers and politicians raise concerns about undue influence and a lack of transparency.”

Key Findings

Political Contributions

Sacks & Sacks and Gair, Gair Conason were the two largest donors, contributing more than $553,000 and $538,000 respectively. Nearly 70% of these contributions went to LawPAC, the political action committee affiliated with the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, which in turn funneled significant sums to candidates and other campaigns.

The top recipients of contributions from the Top 20 firms LawPAC, and ATL PAC (New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers’ PAC) include: the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee ($912k), NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee ($810k), Gov. Kathy Hochul ($545k), former Gov. Andrew Cuomo ($342k). the NYS Republican Campaign Committee ($329k), the New York State Democratic Committee ($301k), and Attorney General Letisha James ($290k).

It is important to note that while Gov. Hochul is among the top recipients of contributions from the firms and PACs analyzed, she has taken a commonsense approach when faced with the most egregious of the trial bar’s priorities, recognizing the negative economic impacts of liability expansion. Meanwhile, New York state lawmakers continue passing bills that would increase litigation.

Legal Services Advertising

  • In 2023 alone, trial lawyers and aggregators spent more than $97 million on more than 1 million local legal services advertisements across New York state.
  • Spending on outdoor and out-of-home ads, like billboards, increased 107% since 2019.
  • From 2022 to 2023, the quantity of legal services radio ads increased 80%.

Crossover of Top Political Givers and Top Advertisers

  • The crossover between top political contributors and advertisers sheds light on the interplay between financial influence and public perception.
  • Notable law firms such as Martin Harding & Mazzotti and Jacoby & Meyers feature prominently in both categories, illustrating their multifaceted approach to shaping the legal landscape and public opinion.

Every New York resident pays a “tort tax” of more than $2,318 every year due to excessive tort costs. These excessive tort costs further result in a loss of more than 418,355 jobs across New York every year.

The reports provide valuable insights into the inner workings of the legal industry and its impact on public perceptions, consumer behaviors, and the integrity of the judicial system.

“Trial lawyers continue to pump significant money into these ad buys because, armed with more clients, they can boost settlements and payouts when they go after large corporations, ultimately raking in larger contingency fees for themselves,” Joyce said. “Then, their strategic campaign investments serve to keep the status quo aligned in their favor.”

By shedding light on these practices, ATRA aims to empower citizens with the knowledge to demand accountability and transparency from trial lawyers and their allies.

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

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