Attorney at Law Magazine Dallas sat down with Quentin Brogdon the president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association to discuss the organization and his plans while at the helm.
AALM: What is the story behind the founding of your association?
QB: The Texas Trial Lawyers Association was founded in 1949 with a simple mission – to bring trial lawyers together in a joint effort to promote justice for Texas families.
Much has changed in the 70-plus years since TTLA’s founding, but our mission today still reflects the values that motivated us seven decades ago.
AALM: How did you become involved in TTLA?
QB: For the first 10 years of my practice, I worked as a criminal prosecutor, and then as an insurance defense lawyer. Near the end of my time as a defense lawyer, I found myself empathizing more and more with the parties on the other side of “the V” – the victims of negligence. I switched sides of the docket, and I’ve never looked back. Almost immediately after switching sides, I joined TTLA. It was an epiphany. I learned that there is an entire family of lawyers who feel just as I do, and practice law every day because they believe in their clients and their causes.
AALM: What makes the TTLA “family” so special?
QB: TTLA is not simply an association. It’s a movement, and it’s a family. TTLA’s lawyers have more heart and more fight than any other lawyers I know. TTLA lawyers fight for causes much bigger than their own self-interests. TTLA lawyers put the interests of individuals ahead of the interests of corporations. TTLA lawyers care more about their clients than themselves. And TTLA lawyers have an incredibly dedicated, long-term staff who work with us because they want to work with us, not because they have to work with us. With members from every corner of the state and firms of every size, TTLA is the largest, most connected organization of plaintiff’s lawyers in Texas.
AALM: What is the main mission of your association?
QB: TTLA members have a shared vision. We believe that everyone deserves access to our courts, and no one is above accountability. We hold protection of the Seventh Amendment’s right to trial by jury as a sacred trust. We know that trial lawyers who have the right tools, knowledge and support make our state a better, healthier, and safer place to live and work. Those values are embodied in our mission – Protecting Texas Families Through Good Laws & Good Lawyers.
That’s why we provide our members with cutting-edge tools, resources, and education opportunities, as well as the most innovative, interactive network of trial lawyers in the state. Plus, TTLA’s legislative advocacy and political involvement is laser-focused on ensuring a strong civil justice system that is open to all Texans. TTLA is the only association in Austin standing up for the rights of plaintiffs and the trial lawyers who represent them before the Texas Legislature. TTLA’s approach is professional and non-partisan, focused exclusively on civil justice and the right to trial by jury.
AALM: As a member of the association’s leadership, what changes are you trying to put into effect?
QB: Every legal association faces challenges on diversity, equity and inclusion. These are existential challenges because an association that does not recruit, retain, and empower diverse members will not survive and thrive. TTLA has done a better job than most associations in facing diversity challenges, but there is always room for improvement. We are implementing a structured DEI process to ensure that this work is at the center of everything TTLA does from membership recruitment to educational programming and our legislative program. This work will make TTLA even stronger.
AALM: How would you encourage a young lawyer to become involved in their legal community?
QB: Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” I would encourage all lawyers to become involved in legal associations. For the first 10 years of my practice, I failed to do that, and I regret it. Associations provide lawyers fellowship, mentoring, and business opportunities that would not otherwise exist. I would advise lawyers wanting to become involved in associations to embrace hard work, to seek out mentors, to be originals, and to take calculated risks. Young lawyers need to understand that they are constantly “auditioning” as they handle cases and interact with other lawyers. Older lawyers are always assessing younger lawyers to determine whether they are worthy of being mentored, assisted, and elevated in the profession. Older lawyers want to mentor, assist, and elevate ethical, hard-working lawyers. Nice guys and gals actually finish first, not last in life.
AALM: What services does TTLA provide its members?
QB: TTLA is focused on the unique needs of trial lawyers. Through our list servers and networking opportunities, we provide members with access to the full power of our members’ collective wisdom and experience. Our legislative advocacy and political involvement puts TTLA members at the center of every fight to protect the Seventh Amendment and the right to trial by jury. Our cutting-edge education seminars are developed by trial lawyers for trial lawyers to help our members keep pace with the ever-changing legal environment.
AALM: What headwinds does TTLA face?
QB: Powerful forces set on undermining the rights of Texas citizens and businesses have been pushing a dangerous agenda in the Texas Legislature for decades. Throughout that time TTLA has been the consistent voice representing the interests of families, property owners, and businesses who have a fundamental right to access our courts and seek accountability. TTLA’s legislative program gives our members opportunities to be engaged directly with the legislative process. TTLA members are experts on the law. Every session, TTLA members provide testimony before legislative committees on pending legislation that pertains to the civil justice system. They provide insights to lawmakers on how a bill could affect the rights of individuals and the practical application of a potential change in the law.
AALM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?
QB: I think it’s crucial to have buy-in from your law partners. Often, they have to pick up the slack when you jump headfirst into legal association activities. I’m blessed with partners who are wonderful lawyers, and more importantly, wonderful people: Rob Crain, Sarah Rogers and John Spillane. They’ve always had my back when TTLA or other organizations called me away.