David v. Goliath: ATLA and the Fight for Everyday Justice

"A veritable Who's Who of plaintiff law since World War II. Few of us ever get to be part of history, let alone help make it. But the trial lawyers in this book did both. When special interests lobbied against accountability, ATLA spoke up for workers and consumers in legislatures and courts across America."

-- Thomas H. Henderson, Jr., former ATLA CEO


"Recently, I read a book that I recommend to every one of you because it will lift you up and make you realize that you are special, that being a trial lawyer is something that you should take a lot of pride in. The book is David v. Goliath: ATLA and the Fight for Everyday Justice, by Richard Jacobson and Jeffrey White. The book recounts our decades-long struggle to protect the rights of consumers, workers, and others victimized by powerful interests.."

-- Les Weisbrod, former AAJ president, Trial magazine, August 2008


The Pound Institute is honored to announce the re-publication on our website of David v. Goliath: ATLA and the Fight for Everyday Justice, by Richard S. Jacobson and Jeffrey R. White.

First published in a hardcover edition in 2004, David v. Goliath chronicles a half-century of ATLA’s challenges and accomplishments, from its humble conception at a cocktail party in the fall of 1945 to its continuing fight to preserve our civil justice system, trial by jury, and the rights of Americans who have been injured through no fault of their own.

The book tells of the struggles and accomplishments of an organization that works to make justice a reality for ordinary Americans in their everyday lives. Starting as a small band of lawyers for injured workers, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now the American Association for Justice, AAJ) built the nation’s premier program for educating lawyers who represent people. At the same time, ATLA took as its mission to preserve Americans’ Constitutional right to trial by jury. As a result, ordinary citizens have prevented countless injuries and deaths by holding accountable those who ignore safety. When special interests lobbied against accountability, ATLA spoke up for workers and consumers in legislatures and courts across America.

The story recounts ATLA’s challenges, setbacks, and victories. It tells of the dedicated men and women who built and guided ATLA for more than half a century, inspiring those who will carry the fight for everyday justice for all Americans into the future. The book is filled with the names and exploits of America’s trial lawyers, both the famous and the unsung.

Acclaimed by former ATLA CEO Tom Henderson as “a veritable Who's Who of plaintiff law since World War II,” David v. Goliath has been cited in numerous law review articles as the definitive history of the American trial lawyer. It is 346 pages in length and includes two appendices, an index of names, and 12 pages of photos of ATLA personalities. Copyright is held by Jeffrey R. White and the Estate of Richard S. Jacobson.

David v. Goliath may be viewed, downloaded, and printed at no cost (for personal use only) on the Pound Institute’s Web site.

To access it, start by clicking here.


About the Authors

Two experienced former members of ATLA’s professional staff told this story. Much of it is based on the personal recollections of 158 leading ATLA members whom Richard Jacobson personally interviewed as he traveled around the country during the 1980s with his tape recorder. Many others shared their personal experiences in telephone interviews and correspondence.

Dick Jacobson became ATLA’s National Director of Public Affairs and Education in 1958, and he launched Trial magazine as its founding editor in 1964. He later served as Executive Director of the Roscoe Pound Foundation (now the Pound Civil Justice Institute). Following his retirement, he made it his personal mission to collect the recollections of ATLA leaders and write the organization’s story.

Jeff White was editor of the ATLA Law Reporter from 1978 until 1987, when he became Associate General Counsel for ATLA’s Amicus Curiae Program. He has authored over 100 amicus briefs presenting AAJ’s views to the United States Supreme Court and other courts around the country. He continues that work with the Center for Constitutional Litigation, P.C.

Membership in the Pound Civil Justice Institute
is open to all attorneys who support astrong civil justice system.