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Joel Laird, Of Counsel

Appointed by Governor Guy Hunt, Joel Laird assumed the office of Circuit Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Alabama on August 6, 1990, becoming, at that time, the youngest Circuit Judge in Alabama.

Laird was born in Brewton, Alabama, on September 21, 1961, but grew up in Roanoke, Alabama, graduating from Handley High School in 1979. He received his Bachelor of Sciences degree in the School of Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama in 1983 and his law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1986.

Laird began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney for District Attorney David Barber in Jefferson County, Alabama, first assigned to the Family Court division and then to the District Court division. In 1987, he moved to Anniston and joined the law firm of Bolt, Isom, Jackson & Bailey as an associate. While there, Laird maintained a general practice representing both plaintiffs and individual and corporate defendants in civil cases in both state and federal courts. Laird also represented criminal defendants and established a strong family litigation practice. In 1989, Laird formed a partnership in Anniston with attorney Todd Caldwell, maintaining his strong general practice and concentrating on his representation of the Alabama Department of Transportation as a Special Assistant Attorney General and as a Special Assistant Attorney General prosecuting dependency and child support cases for the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

During his twenty plus years as a Circuit Judge in one of the state’s busiest circuits, Laird managed and presided over many complex civil and criminal cases. Among the civil cases which he managed and presided over, were complex environmental and mass tort cases involving corporations such as BFI Waste Systems Inc., Union Foundry Company, Waste Recycling, Inc., Industrial Waste, Inc., Diamond Meat Co., Avco Meat Co., Solutia Inc., Monsanto Co., Pharmacia Corp. and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The most notable case for which Laird is known, is Abernathy, et al. v. Monsanto, which involved issues of mass property damage and personal injuries caused by the dumping, emission, contact, and exposure to pcbs by more than 3,500 individual plaintiffs. Judge Laird directed the trial of each plaintiff’s case to a single jury which lasted for over 20 months from the day the jury was struck until the day that Monsanto, Solutia, and Pharmacia settled with the plaintiffs for $350,000,000. At the time the case settled in August of 2003, it was the longest jury trial and the largest environmental settlement in the history of the United States.

Since leaving office, Laird has returned to private practice, representing individuals and serving as an expert in mass tort and environmental litigation. Laird also served for a while as a Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel for the Alabama Secretary of State.

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