ATLA considers Structured Settlement "affinity" program.

In an interesting move, ATLA, the American Trial Lawyers Association, has circulated a letter to several structured settlement brokers and firms to gauge interest and obtain initial information regarding an affinity program they are considering launching.

It could have a profound impact on the structured settlement industry as it would mark the first time a major trial lawyers organization would allow co-branding of their association name, implied endorsement and marketing options, in return for royalty payments. The stated purpose of the program is to continue the fund raising efforts of ATLA to fight tort reform and protect the civil justice system.

The proposed program would be called ATLA Extras, and according to the information we have, would be limited to companies that work exclusively with plaintiff lawyers in marketing structured settlements. This obviously shrinks the universe of qualified firms dramatically, and coupled with another criteria of having "significant experience with a national clientele" further narrows the firms which could serve this market.

Obviously, as a career plaintiff guy, founder of The Legal Broadcast Network, and supporter of ATLA and it's membership, i'm all for raising money for the organization and it's efforts. That goes with out saying. However, I think this could be a step in the wrong direction if the program ultimately chooses just one provider, as opposed to having several ATLA endorsed firms that fit their criteria. In what is a personal service business, an implied endorsement from the association could turn into an embarrassment for the association if the firm selected is chosen strictly as a result of the highest promised royalty payment, as opposed to demonstrated excellence in handling cases.

Any thoughts, news, comments on this one? 

Posted on January 19, 2006 .