James R. Pratt III is of counsel with the law firm of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to going to law school, Mr. Pratt was a competitive college athlete and then an officer in the United States Army Armor Corps. These endeavors taught him the value of discipline, mental toughness and leadership. He has applied these values to the practice of law in order to obtain the best possible results for his clients.
During his over 30 years of law practice, Mr. Pratt has handled jury trials in many different areas ranging from personal injury/wrongful death to complex commercial litigation. For example, in the early ‘80s, Mr. Pratt was co-lead counsel in Burgess v. Ford, which was the first successful air bag case brought in the United States – – and was featured on both 60 Minutes and The Today Show. He also served as co-lead counsel in Edwards v. General Motors, which established the doctrine of crashworthiness in Alabama; Marinelli v. Volkswagen, a case widely recognized nationally in crash worthiness litigation; Byer v. Beech, which was the first verdict against Beech Aircraft concerning the V-tail Bonanza; and McDonald v. Luxaire, which at that time was the largest verdict in the State of Alabama and which remains one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in the history of the state. Most recently Mr. Pratt served as lead Alabama counsel in a breach of fiduciary duty case brought on behalf of a federal bankruptcy trustee resulting in a settlement which the federal bankruptcy judge described as the best result he had seen in his many years on the court.
As a result of the quality of representation Mr. Pratt has provided his clients, he was selected for membership in the exclusive Inner Circle of Advocates (a group limited to 100 attorneys nationwide) and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. Mr. Pratt was selected as one of the 500 most influential plaintiffs lawyers in the United States by Dragon Law, one of the Best Lawyers in America for 20 years, and designated a Top 50 Super Lawyer in Alabama. He is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American Law Institute, the Alabama Law Foundation, the American Bar Association, and is a Diplomat of the National College of Advocacy.
Mr. Pratt has served as President of the Alabama Association for Justice; Chairman of the Products Liability Section and as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association of Justice. He recently completed a highly successful term as President of the Alabama State Bar. He is only the eighth lawyer to have been President of the Trial Lawyers and the State Bar in the Bar’s 135-year history.
He received the Award of Merit from the Alabama State Bar in 2013.The award is presented for exceptional service to the legal profession. He also received a Resolution from both Houses of Alabama’s Legislature recognizing and honoring his public service.
Mr. Pratt has also been active as a faculty member in providing legal education to lawyers. He has served as a Faculty Member for the National College of Advocacy’s Basic and Advanced Courses as well as a Faculty Member for the American Association of Justice and Cumberland and Alabama Schools of Law in their Continuing Legal Education programs. He also lectures in a Master’s of Safety Management at the University of Alabama Birmingham. He currently serves as a member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees.