Follow the Money: California Trial Lawyers Edition

ATRA’s latest reports reveal the deep ties between trial lawyers and California politics, uncovering trends in legal services advertising and campaign contributions.

Legal Services Advertising

2023: $238.8 Million Spent on 2.3 Million Ads by Trial Lawyers

  • 66% Increase in Spending Since 2019
  • 21% Increase in Number of Ads Since 2019

212% Increase in Spending on Out-of-Home Ads for Trial Lawyers Since 2019

82% Increase in the Quantity of Trial Lawyer TV Ads Since 2019

Three of Every Four Ads in 2023 Were for Personal Injury Lawyers

  • Including ads for vehicle and motorcycle accident attorneys
  • 61% of all dollars spent on legal services ads in California in 2023 was spent on personal injury ads

$23.1 Million in Ad Buys from Jacoby & Meyers Attorneys

Political Contributions

$15.47 Million in Campaign Contributions from Top 20 Plaintiffs’ Firms for Statewide Political Giving Since 2017

Top 3 Plaintiffs’ Firm Campaign Donors, 2017-2023:

  • Law Offices of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, Wecht & Schoenberger APC
    • $2.7 Million+ in Political Donations Since 2017
  • Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
    • $1.5 Million+ in Political Donations Since 2017
  • Knight Law Group
    • $1.2 Million+ in Political Donations Since 2017

$7 Million+ Donated to PACs of the Consumer Attorneys of California, the State’s Trial Bar Group

Gov. Gavin Newsom Received $1 Million+ from Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Since 2017

“These reports provide keen insight into the operation of the ‘trial lawyer playbook,’ pointing to a system easily skewed against consumers and taxpayers. 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.”

ATRA President Tiger Joyce

“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. Then, their strategic campaign investments serve to keep the status quo aligned in their favor.”

ATRA President Tiger Joyce

2019 FDA study shows the real-life consequences of these ads. The report found 66 reports of adverse events following patients discontinuing their blood thinner medication (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis or Savaysa) after viewing a lawyer advertisement. The median patient age was 70 and 98% stopped medication use without consulting with their doctor. Thirty-three patients experienced a stroke, 24 experienced another serious injury, and seven people died.

“It’s my opinion that the tone and content of these advertisements imply qualitative judgments about these medications that is just not true.

When you say call 1-800-BAD-DRUG, that clearly implies it’s a bad drug, which runs counter to current medical evidence and also to the FDA’s recommendations.” 

Dr. Shawn H. Fleming, doctor for one of the deceased, testifying before Congress

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