Trial lawyers trade group sends alert to members after GOP chair hired by prominent attorney

Michael McDonald is the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party. Republican lawmakers are trying to pass tort reform now that they control both houses. And Michael McDonald has been hired by perhaps the state's best-known lawyer as tort reform bills are pending.

Yes, this is Nevada.

McDonald recently registered for Glenn Lerner, the attorney who constantly advertises on TV, and trial lawyer sources say the GOP chair has solicited other members of the trade group to ask for payment in return for helping to kill tort reform. (McDonald did not return a request for comment.)

So worried were the trial lawyers, who have been trying to stanch the session bleeding by working with GOP leaders and by hiring a Republican lobbyist (Patrick McNaught), that they met with lawmakers at the end of the week to distance themselves from McDonald. And then, on Friday, Nevada Justice Association President Herb Santos, in what sources say is a direct reaction to the McDonald solicitations, warned his members about what was occurring:

Dear NJA Members,


As you know, our legislative team has been working tirelessly at the Nevada Legislature and we currently are involved in several, very delicate negotiations on pending bills with all respective parties.  We know that various bills have created much concern for our membership and our clients as they seriously affect the civil justice system and deny equal access to the law.  We know the threats are real and everyone is concerned.


It has come to our attention that some members, non-members and others have worked to contract with outside lobbying assistance for this session.  We want to clearly remind everyone that outside lobby teams may not represent that they work for NJA in any capacity. Certainly everyone is free to contract with anyone with whom they so desire, however they cannot allow any representation that they speak for our membership. In the interest of teamwork, allowing our input on successful additions to our efforts would be ideal. Please keep in mind that without consulting the NJA leadership, it could have the unintended consequences of hurting or even destroying our interests and progress.


NJA has been lobbying on behalf of the trial bar for nearly 50 years and has an experienced team of professional lobbyists.  In addition to our Executive Director Victoria Coolbaugh, who has been lobbying for us for 15 years, we also have John Griffin with The Griffin Company, Marcus Conklin, who is a former Majority Leader of the Assembly, and our new Republican lobbyist, Patrick McNaught.  We also have a team of respected NJA members who work the halls daily and have successfully done so for many years.


Our team works together to represent your interests and those of your clients in Carson City. We worked hard to put together those with the best reputations, relationships, and experience  in Carson City to reflect the level of professionalism and ethics the trial bar deserves. We will continue to fight off all tort reform efforts.


Some of you have asked what you can do to assist in our efforts. I would suggest considering a donation to Nevadans For Protecting Our Rights. You can send your clients letters (we have samples to share). You can call and write your legislator or those on the Judiciary Committees where most of our bills are heard, and you can also come to Carson City and learn the ropes. We need to be sending a consistent message to ensure that any effort to erode the 7th Amendment and deny Nevadans access to justice is stopped.  We welcome your input and help, and if we all stick to the plan, we can work towards the best possible results in the current political climate in Nevada.



Very truly yours,


Herb J. Santos, Jr.

President NJA