Daniel E. Becnel, Jr.

Many people have long since been familiar with the name Daniel E. Becnel, Jr. In 1972, and at the age of 28, Becnel was responsible for the largest verdict in the history of Louisiana. It totaled $1 million and cemented his place as one of the most prominent personal injury attorneys in the nation. Now, though, Becnel is tackling a monumental effort, all in hopes of protecting the future of those most affected by the massive oil spill that's devastating the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. It stands to reason this would be an issue close to the Louisiana native's heart; he is, after all, one of the most experienced attorneys in what's referred to as ''chemical release'' and ''toxic tort'' cases. Not only that, but he was named one of the fifty best lawyers in the U.S. by Town & Country magazine. It's no wonder so many are entrusting him with their futures.

While Becnel is not the only attorney who has mobilized along the Gulf Coast, he does have more than a couple advantages. First, he's a Louisiana native and secondly, he has experience in these kinds of catastrophic disasters. The media is calling this one that will ''most certainly dwarf the half-billion dollars awarded in the Exxon Valdez disaster''.

So what does Becnel have to look forward to? Oil slicked beaches from the Florida Gulf Coast, including such popular vacation spots as Gulf Shores, Pensacola and Panama City. In Alabama, those areas such as Bayou La Batre and Dauphin Island are populated by fishermen and shrimpers who have carried on the family business for generations and who have also recently, and miraculously, found their way back after Hurricane Katrina's devastating landfall just five years ago. In Mississippi, the beautiful coast, which pulls in many tourists due to legalized gambling in Harrison and Hancock Counties (including the cities of Biloxi and Gulfport), the tourism trade will most certainly take another hit, and one that is likely similar to that of what Hurricane Katrina dealt. And, of course, in Becnel's home state of Louisiana, the rich breeding grounds for crawfish, oysters, mullet and shrimp will be tainted and will force countless people out of a job.

His clients rest easy knowing he's at the helm. Becnel was successful in such high profile cases that included Fen-Phen, welding rods, breast implants, Norplant and Big Tobacco. If BP is not worried, it probably should be. While it's not been decided yet, there remains something even more important: the lives of those eleven who did not survive the initial explosion. While Becnel takes his work very seriously, those who know him say that knowledge of lost lives is a driving force behind his dedication.

Becnel is in private practice in Louisiana. It's a family affair and the firm employs a dozen of the most brilliant legal minds in the southeast U.S. You can read more about Becnel and his many successes at his website, BecnelLaw.com.

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