Ates Law Firm, A.P.L.C.
J. Robert Ates was admitted to the practice of law in 1972. In 1967, upon graduation from Tulane, he was admitted to medical school, but elected to attend law school. Mr. Ates realized that his interests in both fields could be combined in the practice of personal injury and wrongful death litigation, wherein his extensive science and pre-medical training might serve his clients well. He attended Loyola Law School because of its evening division while teaching science and physics at East Jefferson High School.
In law school, Mr. Ates had the unique privilege of working as the Student Representative in Loyola’s investigation into establishing a Law Clinic for student practitioners. He attended a multi-day conference in California hosted in 1970 by CLEPR (Counsel for Legal Educational Professional Responsibility), an organization founded for the purpose of creating and funding clinical education in law schools. After the Louisiana Supreme Court approved the concept of the practice by law students in the courts under the oversight of a practitioner, Mr. Ates was instrumental in the formation of Loyola’s Law Clinic. He was one of the first twenty students who had the experience of actually handling cases prior to graduation.
Additionally, during his last semester in law school, Mr. Ates had the opportunity to begin a two year clerkship with the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeal. After serving in that capacity, he joined a casualty defense firm, where he defended insurance carriers in personal injury cases. That experience gave him important insights into the practice of law and showed him that his interests were on the opposite side of the ìvî, wherein he was fortunate to be able to transition to the firm of Kierr, Gainsburgh, Benjamin, Fallon, and Lewis. There, he practiced mainly for plaintiffs (while also doing occasional defense work, which he still does today). Later Mr. Ates became a senior partner and the firm name changed to Gainsburgh, Benjamin, Fallon, David and Ates.
In addition, and perhaps in part because he had done well in Law School (Law Review, top ten of class) and had successfully started and taught at the Loyola Institute of Trial Advocacy for several years from 1983 forward, Loyola invited Mr. Ates to join its adjunct faculty. Presumably because of his areas of practice, he was offered a choice among three (3) courses: State Workers’ Compensation (with allied tort action and intervention); Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (with allied tort action and intervention); and Maritime Personal Injury. While giving thought to what choice to make, a concept occurred to me: all of those fields of law involve injury on the job. Thus it was that Mr.Ates wove together, with a common thread of job related injury, the three courses into an entirely new course entitled ìInjured Employee Compensation and Tort Remedies.î Loyola liked the idea, so the course was taught by him at Loyola for the first time in 1987. Over the next couple of years, he continued to teach Injured Employee Compensation and Tort Remedies at Loyola while co-teaching the Offshore Litigation course at Tulane.
Mr. Ates interest in teaching in general and trial advocacy in particular resulted in my becoming active in the LSBA’s Civil Law Section, of which he eventually became the Chairman. Shortly after taking that position, he was successful in changing the title of the Section to ìSection of Civil Law and Litigation,î inasmuch as our Bar had lacked a Litigation Section. This resulted in Mr. Ates putting on numerous CLE programs for the Section, bringing in nationally known teachers of trial advocacy I met during his NITA service. As well, he continues to give quite a few CLE speeches and demonstrations, which he stopped counting long ago at over one hundred (100). Being involved led to service on multiple LSBA committees. That culminated in becoming the Secretary of the Bar and Editor of the Louisiana Bar Journal for two years.
Mr. Ates has been a very busy person for the last several decades, not only with the foregoing activities but also while maintaining a very active practice in personal injury and wrongful death litigation, including class actions, multi-district litigation, and mass torts involvement starting in 1975 and continuing through the present. In 1997, he was invited to serve as, first, a Mediator and, then, Special Master in a significant River Parishes chemical release class action. That in turn led to other appointments by state and federal judges, which continues today.