Kathleen L. Nastri
Recommitting to the Fight
When I first joined Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder, Richard Bieder said to me, “We want you to be President of AAJ one day.” I thought he was crazy. The firm had a long tradition of supporting and leading AAJ, but the idea seemed impossible. Today, I am glad to be wrong and I am honored to be your new president.
Not only did I see the AAJ presidency as a longshot, there was a time in my life when I had no interest in being a lawyer at all. As odd as it seems to me now, I wanted to be president of IBM! I studied business in college and planned a career in the corporate world. Even when I decided to attend law school, I did it with the intention of practicing corporate law. It was due to a series of random chances that I ended up at a personal injury law firm and found myself, once again, thankful to be wrong.
I love being a trial lawyer. I love my clients. I love digging into the issues. I love the challenge of outwitting the defense to protect my clients. I love the persona we get to project as trial lawyers. Most of all, I love the idea that we can change people’s lives and I’m grateful to those who have changed mine. I am where I am today because of the encouragement of others, especially those who encouraged me to become involved with AAJ.
In my many years as a trial lawyer, I have learned two very important lessons. First, it’s okay to ask for help. Second, always expect the unexpected.
This year started off in a way many of us did not expect. We are now faced with a President and Congress doing everything they can to undermine the rights of our clients. It is a time of uncertainty in Washington, D.C., and around the country, but trial lawyers are made for moments like this.
The current political climate in D.C. can be a great opportunity for the AAJ membership. You can accomplish a lot when you are forced to play defense. Right now, we have the ability to present a strong message to an audience that is open to us, anxious for a plan. It is imperative we take advantage of this opportunity and recommit to fighting for justice for our clients. We will fight for our clients with everything we have and continue to build bridges and coalitions with those who share in our mission to protect the civil justice system and the right to a jury trial.
I know I didn’t get to where I am today alone. I have been supported by my family, friends, and colleagues all along the way. To me, being part of AAJ means none of us is alone. AAJ has an amazing staff, Board of Governors, Executive Committee, and membership working tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights. I look forward to working with each of you in the year ahead.
Kathleen Nastri is a partner with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, Conn. She has served as a member of the AAJ Board of Governors, PAC Board of Trustees/AAJ PAC, National Finance Council, Enfranchisement Task Force, Diversity Task Force, and State Delegates. She has also been a member of the Executive, Public Affairs, and Publications Committees. She is a past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association. Ms. Nastri earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut in 1983 and her J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1986.