“You know what a rainmaker is, kid? The bucks are gonna be falling from the sky,” Danny DeVito tells young attorney Matt Damon in the film adaptation of John Grisham’s trial lawyer manifesto "The Rainmaker."
With "For the people," their newly launched slogan for the midterm elections, Nancy Pelosi and Democratic candidates running for office this fall appear to be hoping votes will fall from the sky. Or maybe Pelosi is making a very public 1-800 call to a big trial lawyer donor?
Allow me to explain.
Those of you who don’t live in the Southeast may not have heard of the law firm Morgan & Morgan. And those of you in the Southeast will have a hard time finding a friend or family member who hasn’t.
Founded 30 years ago in Orlando, Florida, by attorney John Morgan, the firm quickly grew from 3 lawyers to 420, with offices from Jackson, Mississippi, to Boston, Massachusetts. Its bread and butter is personal injury lawsuits, including auto accidents; the firm claims to have recovered over $1 billion for individuals and families.
No objection. Those are rainmaker-worthy dollars!
Morgan & Morgan’s now 25-year-old catch phrase, which runs on commercials daily in countless Southeast markets is … wait for it … “For the People.”
The firm’s website is www.FORTHEPEOPLE.com, and its Twitter handle is @ForThePeople.
Trial lawyers are a faithful and meaningful lobby for Democrats in almost all elections. According to Responsive Politics, in the 2016 presidential election alone they donated $36.4 million to Hillary Clinton and less than $1 million to Donald Trump.
Tim Carney explained well why trial lawyers consistently wear the Democrats' blue jersey in his op-ed leading up to the 2014 midterms: “Democrats advance policies that help trial lawyers make money. More regulation and more legislation often means more litigation.”
Not surprisingly, John Morgan, a prominent trial attorney, has been a strong supporter of Democrats running for office over the years. Most recently, in 2016, he hosted high-dollar fundraisers well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
That was until Morgan was being considered for a run in Florida’s upcoming governor’s race: “I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an independent and, when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils.”
Trial lawyer or not, that’s a great answer.
This had to be a hit to Pelosi and all the Democrats looking for an old reliable deep pocket to dip into this fall. Could losing one trial lawyer of Morgan’s prominence lead to a mass esquire donor exodus? Cue your favorite lawyer joke here.
So a “fix it” strategy appears to have been settled on — flattery.
Morgan, seeing an opportunity for even larger notoriety, appears to be playing along. Joking about copyright infringement and referencing Pelosi directly in a tweet last week, he said, “Also I agreed to allow (Pelosi), or Aunt Nancy as my children call her, to pay me only a nickel every time #ForThePeople is used by the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).”
Imagine if big GOP donors the Koch brothers lovingly remarked that Paul Ryan’s kids call them “Grandpa Charles and Papa David”? Better yet, what if a consistent GOP lobby like big oil acquiesced to their use of a branded slogan? Think of Exxon but instead “Republican Energy Lives Here.”
Assuming there is no nefarious intent by Pelosi to lure a big donor back, in the age of Trump, the question has to be raised whether the Democratic Party is so devoid of creative marketing that they’re looking to trial lawyer billboards. Even former presidential candidate Walter Mondale, never to be confused with Don Draper, famously questioned President Reagan’s economic policies by invoking Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” slogan.
And what happens when Americans in so many states who run small businesses currently being sued by clients of Morgan’s firm, regardless of the merits, see the obvious parallel to the Democrats’ new slogan?
For Morgan, undoubtedly, all this publicity will add value to his brand’s continued growth. These days, Morgan has accepted the moniker of “Mister Marijuana” for his full-throated public support of the growing medical marijuana industry.
For Pelosi and the Democrats? Maybe they should reread Grisham’s book or watch "The Rainmaker" again and heed its warning: “Every lawyer, at least once in every case, feels himself crossing a line he doesn’t really mean to cross … And if you cross it enough times it disappears forever. And then you’re nothing but another lawyer joke. Just another shark in the dirty water.”
For the “sharks”? Kind of catchy, I guess. Of course, that is if SeaWorld doesn’t own it.
Bryan often says he’s lived a "Forrest Gump" life — from his experience working for two Ohio governors, his first legal job with the California firm made famous by the movie "Erin Brokovich," to his counsel on a successful presidential campaign. Bryan was inspired to create his unique "Legal Moneyball™" model after seeing holes in the lawyer-client relationship in his years of experience defending high exposure liability lawsuits and serving as Assistant General Counsel to a $1.1 billion-dollar national nursing home company. Legal Moneyball™ is an innovative preventive law, data driven focused solution for how healthcare businesses treat their key risks and diligence. Bryan is also regularly featured by national media on legal, political, and health care policy. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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