First-ever National Legal Advocacy Organization is Developed

NEW YORK, NY – Patrick B. Donohue, Esq., announced today that he will be soon bringing together some of the leading attorneys and advocates for children, young adults and their families who suffer from the number one cause of death and disability – pediatric acquired brain injuries (PABI).

These leading experts will be in New York City from November 17-18, 2009 to develop the first- ever National PABI Legal Advocacy Organization. This two-day National PABI Legal Confernce will bring together attorneys and advocates across the country who are experts in the seven legal/financial categories of care where governmental services currently allow PABI families to fall through the cracks: criminal law, special education law, family law, personal injury law, social security/disability law, insurance litigation and estate and life planning. Donohue’s four-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, suffers from a severe PABI after being shaken when she was only five days old. He started the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in 2007 to further advances in the field of pediatric neurology.

The Legal Committee of The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has been working on developing the Sarah Jane Brain Legal Advocacy Organization (SJB LAO) over the course of the past six months. A current list of the SJBF Legal Committee Members is located here.

The general legal structure of the SJB LAO will be a for-profit law firm with co-counsel affiliations set up in every state in the country. This will allow it to eventually generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year which will go towards subsidizing services for those PABI families who will pay on a sliding scale based upon their financial ability. Donohue has announced that after he takes an annual salary of $1, he will be donating the remaining after- tax proceeds to the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation to advance the mission of its National PABI Plan. The state-by-state details are forthcoming with each state’s structure based upon the laws, regulations, and bar associations rules unique to each specific state (i.e., some states require an LLC while others require an LLP).

During this two-day conference a National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Legal Plan (PABI Legal Plan) will be drafted to coincide with the PABI Plan developed earlier this year by the Medical Committee of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation’s Advisory Board. The components of the PABI Legal Plan will be the following: 1) the current status of each Legal Category for the PABI families, 2) the current problems PABI families face in each Legal Category, 3) how the SJB LAO will address these problems and 4) what are the specifics requirements for attorneys and advocates to participate for each Legal Category.

“We have invited experts from across the country to participate and put out an open invitation to apply to participate for those who are experts in their respective fields. The Legal Committee is looking for leaders across the legal and financial continuum to help complete a draft of the PABI Legal Plan by the end of the conference,” Donohue stated. If someone is interested in attending, they should send their CVs to Crystal Padley via email at

Part of this PABI Legal Plan will be to establish selection criteria for attorneys to be part of the SJB LAO, a pathway for participation if they don’t immediately meet the criteria and requirements and guidelines for participation.

Below is a general schedule of the Legal Conference:

Schedule of National PABI Legal Conference in New York City
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
9:00-10:00am Check-in at the Law Offices of Skadden, Arps in Manhattan
10:00-12:00pm Sub-group Committee Meetings to discuss selection criteria (criminal, special education, family, personal injury, social security, insurance, and estate and financial planning)
12:00-1:30pm Lunch
1:30-3:00pm Regional Meetings to discuss implementation (seven regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Mid-Central, South-central, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific)
3:00-3:30pm Coffee Break
3:30-5:00pm Sub-group Committee Meetings to discuss gaps in coverage for each sub-group
6:00-8:00pm The Annual Angels Awards Reception at Webster Hall in Manhattan
8:00-10:00pm Host Committee Dinner at Webster Hall titled, “The Integration of Military, Professional Sports and Youth Sports Programs to Better Prevent, Identify and Treat Brain Injuries”
10:00-2:00am Fund-raising Concert for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund at Webster Hall (100% of the proceeds go to The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
10:00-12:00pm Sub-group Committee Meetings finalize outstanding issues
12:00-1:00pm Lunch
1:00-3:00pm Regional Meetings finalize outstanding issues
3:00-3:30pm Coffee Break
3:30-5:00pm Final Sub-group Committee Meetings plan next steps

About The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation
The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (SJBF) is named after 4-year-old Sarah Jane Donohue who was violently shaken by her baby nurse when she was just 5 days old, breaking four ribs, both collarbones and causing a severe brain injury. SJBF has quickly galvanized the pediatric acquired brain injury (PABI) community into action through the development of the largest, most-collaborative National Advisory Board of leading experts from every major medical institution (from MD Anderson and Johns Hopkins to Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai) and Research University (from Harvard and Yale to UCLA and Duke) in the country.

With the causes of PABI being traumatic (motor vehicle incidents, sports concussions, blast injury from war, child abuse) and non-traumatic (brain tumors, strokes, meningitis, epilepsy), it is the #1 cause of death and disability for children and young adults in this country with more than 3 million NEW brain injuries occurring every year (versus the combined cumulative cases of 560,000 autism in the country).

The SJBF National Advisory Board created the first-ever National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan (PABI Plan) which develops a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care, universally accessible for all PABI children and young adults up to age 25 and their families regardless of where they live in the country. In the past year alone, SJBF has developed the PABI Plan, began implementing it with the largest healthcare collaboration in U.S. history dealing with PABI, submitted a $930 million multi-department grant proposal to begin funding the PABI Plan and just recently introduced the PABI Act of 2009 into Congress as a concurrent resolution (it has over 65 co-sponsors in less than a few weeks). All of this information is located on the website,

Based on calls and meetings with the Legal Committee over the past several months we have developed a preliminary framework for the selection criteria for the Personal Injury Legal Category of Care of SJB LAO (we will be doing the same for each Legal Category). Below is a general framework.

Preliminary Frameword for the Personal Injury Category of Care: The selection of the lawyer to be a Primary Referral for their geographic area will determined by a series of objective questions/criteria weighted differently based upon the value/necessity to the PABI family.

Traumatic Brain Injury-specific criteria:
# of $1 million+ verdicts in the past 10 years
Specific TBI (weight: 9/10): none, 1-3 cases, 4-7 cases, 8-10 cases, 10+ cases
Personal Injury (weight: 8/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of $1 million+ cases settled after trial begins in the past 10 years
Specific TBI (weight: 8/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Personal Injury (weight: 7/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of $1 million+ cases settled in the past 10 years
Specific TBI (weight: 7/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Personal Injury (weight: 6/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of Mild TBI cases concluded in the past 10 years
Verdicts (weight: 9/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Cases settled after trial begins (weight: 8/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Cases settled (weight: 7/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of years in the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group (weight: 3/10): never, 1-3 years, 4-7 years, 8-10 years, 10+ years
# of years within leadership of Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group (weight: 5/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of brain injury conferences attended in the past 5 years (weight: 3/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
(List the most the productive conference attended)
# of brain injury conferences presenting within the past 5 years (weight: 5/10):0, 1-3, 4-5, 5+
(List the best presentation)
# of years of membership in your State Brain Injury Association (weight: 3/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of years within leadership of your State Brain Injury Association (weight: 5/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of special trusts or other settlement alternatives used (examples of alternatives) in the past 10 years (weight: 3/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Types of philanthropic activities or community service associated with brain injury (weight: 2/10): General description
Published works within the field of brain injury (weight: 2/10): List articles and publications

General Legal criteria:
Amount of line of credit for firm (or other means of financial wherewithal) (weight: 5/10): 0-100. 100-250 250-500 500-750 750-1m 1m+
Board certification in civil advocacy (weight: 2/10) (not recognized in state) 5/10 (recognized by state)
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) membership (weight: 2/10)
# of years of membership in State Trial Lawyers Organization (weight: 10/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
# of years within leadership in State Trial Lawyers Organization (weight: 6/10): 0, 1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 10+
Amount of malpractice insurance (weight: 8/10): <$1M, $1-5M, $5M+ (minimum requirement $1 million)
Recognized within Best Lawyers in America within 5 years (weight: 8/10): y/n
Recognized within Super Lawyers in America within 5 years (weight: 2/10): y/n (look into the process of selection)
Rating by Martindale-Hubbell (weight: 3/10): AV, BV, rated (explain if it is an individual rating)
Have there been any disciplinary actions within the home State Bar Association or any other Bar Association (weight: -10/10): if so, explain

Some non-weighted/non-scored general questions to create a profile:
Are there any sub-specialties with an expertise (i.e., child abuse, poisonings, etc.)?
Has the attorney been active politically and/or civically? Local/state/federal

In addition, below are some issued raised, discussed and proposed solutions:
What formula do we use to determine the number of attorney(s) per population/geographic demographic? 1 lawyer per 1 million population or a minimum of 2 per state and each state can be developed into different regions on a state-by-state basis

How much should the screening application cost? $250 per attorney

How much should the selected attorney pay annually to participate? $2,500 per attorney

Questions and issues that need further development: 
What will be the process for a “Pathway to Participation” (i.e., a mentoring program for those who do not make the initial cut)?

How do we determine the maximum number of cases that can be handled annually (i.e., based on ability to finance the cases, based on the number of support staff)?

For more information, visit or call (212) 576-1180.