Louisiana Governor And Ag Have Guts

About once a week someone asks me, “can you believe the state hired a Dallas plaintiff firm to represent it against BP?” The answer I give them is never quite what they expect. Of course I can believe it. Baron & Budd is a firm of trial lawyers, and when you’ve been wronged, you want a trial lawyer on your side, not a discovery practice firm.

First things first, Burton LeBlanc, an environmental legal specialist, works right here in Baton Rouge; his office in on Bluebonnet Boulevard across from the library. To call him a Dallas lawyer may be less than completely truthful. That said, it took guts for Governor Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to hire Baron & Budd, and even more guts to say LeBlanc and Baron & Budd “are well qualified to help the state.”

As the Business Report points out, Daniel Fisher, who writes about legal issues for Forbes, says the move to hire Baron & Budd is “interesting.” Baron & Budd has deep ties to the Democratic Party and partner Russell Budd hosted a fundraiser at his home for President Barack Obama in August. Fisher notes the decision to hire Baron & Budd came from Gov. Bobby Jindal, a rising star in the Republican Party. Jindal is “joining forces with a law firm whose history includes the sort of litigation tactics that send most Republicans reaching for their checkbooks to donate to a tort-reform group,” Fisher says.

So what does this mean and how is it reconciled?  It comes down people generally despising all lawyers except their own. Business owners generally dislike plaintiff lawyers. That is, until their business has been harmed and they need their own plaintiff lawyer. Then, their plaintiff lawyer is not a bad person, they are just fighting for what is right because the business was hurt.

The same is true of the state of Louisiana. There is no doubt the state of Louisiana was injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In that circumstance, can you really blame the Governor and Attorney General for picking a personal injury attorney with a long history of fighting for injured people? I think not.