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Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

Isaac Byrd

Isaac K. Byrd, Jr., is the founder of Byrd and Associates—a first generation law firm.  Byrd and Associates are successful trial lawyers who have won justice for their clients in cases ranging from 18 wheeler accidents, swimming pool drowning, medical negligence to pharmaceutical, mass torts and automobile accidents.  “We believe in the causes for which we fight,” says Byrd.  “People respect that.”

In 1987, as co-counsel, Byrd won a 4.5 million dollar medical malpractice verdict; at that time this was the largest actual damage verdict in Mississippi history.  Over the last twenty years the firm has been awarded many multi-million dollar judgments and settlements, including several multimillion-dollar settlements.  For example, the Fen-Phen case alone was settled for 24 million dollars in 2000; a 13 million dollar consumer fraud case against Jim Walter Homes, Inc., was won in May 2001; and a record $150 million-dollar jury verdict for compensatory damages on behalf of six men injured as a result of asbestos, was awarded Byrd and Associates in October 2001.

The landmark Ayers higher education case also bore the imprint of Byrd and Associates.   Asked by the lead plaintiff, Congressman Bennie Thompson, to take on the 27 year old case, Attorney Byrd’s intense but short-lived involvement led to a settlement that will positively impact higher education in Mississippi and lead to greater endowments for Historically Black Institutions  (HBIs) than any other higher education settlement case in the nation.   The plaintiffs in Ayers were awarded over $500 million over the next 17 years for both academic and construction programs.

Byrd is or has been pro-bono counsel to the Mississippi Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Mississippi State Baptist Convention.  In 1998, the NAACP presented Byrd with the prestigious Goodman-Chaney-Schwerner Award for promoting political empowerment for all citizens.  In 1985, he received the NAACP’s Vernon Dahmer Award.  He is the recipient of many national and local awards.

Byrd’s political insights have been put into effective service for many persons seeking electoral office in Mississippi.  These offices have included races from mayors to judgeships in local, state and federal elections.  His wisdom and dedication resulted in the election and re-election of Jackson’s first African American mayor in 1997 and 2001, respectively.  He has been in the arena of politics in Mississippi since 1980 when he and others ushered in William Winter’s governorship.

Nine years later Ray Mabus, another progressive governor whose election bore Byrd’s imprimatur, appointed Byrd to finish the term left vacant by the death of a chancery judge.  Byrd thus became the first African American chancery judge to preside in a Mississippi courtroom.  For six months, Byrd transformed the court with his clear-headed application of the law and collegiality; ultimately, however, he chose to return to his firm than seek election to the judgeship.

Byrd’s support of the arts and humanities in Mississippi has become legend.  His service has included the Arts Alliance, Mississippi Opera, New Stage Theater, Ballet Mississippi and the Margaret Walker-Alexander National Research Center—whose annual luncheon is called the “Isaac Byrd Luncheon.”  He helped spearhead a national fund raising campaign for the Medgar Evers Statue Fund and many others. He continues to support the Central Troopers Association, the Mississippi chapter of 100 Black Men, the Mississippi Coalition of 100 Black women, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and numerous African American churches and civic organizations.  He singularly sponsored the national museum exhibit “Passages – Photographs in Africa” for the Mississippi Museum of Art.  He has served as co-chair of the Alexis De Tocqueville Society, a philanthropic organization of the United Way.

He is a current board member of the Mississippi Museum of Art; and also sponsored the Mississippi Sympathy concert of internationally acclaimed classical pianist, Jade Simmons in 2010. His support for and love of Tougaloo College has been a mainstay of his adult life. He chairs the institutional Advancement Committee of the Tougaloo Board of Trustees.  In this role he dedicates himself to identifying resources to help strengthen the College.  Byrd is a 1998 inductee into the Tougaloo College Society of philanthropy initiative that recognized individuals and organizations for gifts of $100,000 or more.  A fundraising roast honoring Byrd’s work and legacy raised $110,000 for the College.  Tougaloo’s alumni association recognized Byrd for his magnanimous philanthropy in support of the College–Byrd’s 2001 gift of $1 million to his alma mater was the largest gift ever made by an individual alumnus, for which he received national acclaim in 2002, as one of two (2) recipients awarded the “African American Donor’s Award” jointly sponsored by the Kresge Foundation, The Southern Education Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company.  Byrd was also inducted into the Tougaloo College National Alumni Association Hall of Fame in October 2002.

Beyond Jackson, Byrd was one of four African-Americans in the United States on the board of governors of the American Association of Justice (AJA).  He is a Presidential Club member of the AJA and having served as co-chair of its Publication Committee (Trial Magazine, etc.)  He has been a Member of AJA’s M Club, Professional Negligence, Birth Trauma, Nursing Home, Stalwarts, Aviation, Railroad, Firearm, Sexual  Abuse Committees.

He is active in many other state and national legal, political and social organizations.  He is a Fellow of the Mississippi State Bar.  He serves on The Board of The Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association which gave him its highest honor-The Stanford Young Lifetime Achievement Award (2006). Byrd has served on the boards of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and the National American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and is current President of the ACLU of Mississippi; he is a current board member of the Mississippi Museum of Art .

He is a founding member, the current Treasurer and first major donor to the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), founded in 202 to fill the gap left by the under funding of the legal services program.

In 2002, Byrd received the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, the nation’s single most prestigious award for trial lawyers.  In 2003, Black Enterprise Magazine recognized him as one of the top black lawyers in the country.

Byrd is recognized as a national expert in medical negligence, jury selection and trial strategy; and has lectured across the country on these topics.

Byrd is a goal driven businessmen/ lawyer with an earned reputation for being a visionary whose persistence and drive are infinitely pristine. Skilled in the art of negotiation and diplomacy Byrd is the owner of major business enterprises including the 930 Blues Café (Jackson’s authentic blues club)  and The Congress Street Properties.

He is a frequent lecturer before local, state and national legal, civic and political groups.

He graduated from Tougaloo College Magna Cum Laude in 1973 and Northwestern University Law School in Chicago in 1976 and is the father of two children:  Isaac III and Caron.  He is an active member of the Strangers Home M.B. Church in Shaw, Mississippi.

“Through passion, commitment and sacrifice, we will continue to move this state and nation to respond to the human condition”, says Byrd.


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