It might be a lovely red brick townhouse nestled in the posh Georgetown area, but the trial lawyers Association’s building may shortly need the canal it sits next to turned into a moat.

With Republicans in charge of much of Washington – and moving to put limits on litigation – the headquarters of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America could be described a building under siege.

For years, ATLA has been one of the most powerful and feted lobbying groups in Washington. With its close ties to the Democratic Party, its members were on the state-dinner invitation list in the Clinton years.

Now, trial lawyers are targets more than titans.Many Republicans want to curb what they view as a corrosive tide of civil litigation in America. George W. Bush made his mark as governor of Texas on this issue of tort reform.

ATLA lobbyists are fighting a wave of legislation this year aimed at capping what juries can award, curbing class-action suits, and protecting individual industries from litigation. Similar bills are getting passed in states, and even attorneys themselves are piling on – filing petitions to limit plaintiff lawyers’ fees.

AT the offices of ATLA, chief lobbyist Linda Lipsen insists the atmosphere has been hostile to their interests since Republicans took control of the House in 1994. Yet the lawyers Ms. Lipsen represents smell a new brand of retribution.

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