The seeds for the National Association of Legal Investigators were sown in June, 1965, in Belleville, Illinois, during a three-day training school for legal investigators sponsored by Trial Lawyers Service Company at Augustine’s Restaurant. During this school, attended by thirty plaintiff investigators, the idea of a formal organization for investigators who specialize in investigation of personal injury matters for the plaintiff was much discussed as was an annual get-together of those attending the first such school ever afforded for plaintiff investigators.
It took two years for the seeds to germinate and in June, 1967, thirty-five legal investigators, representing fifteen different states from Maryland to California, met at the Bel-Air East Motor Inn in St. Louis, Missouri, to found the National Association of Legal Investigators. This organizational meeting was held in conjunction with a three-day investigation seminar, and such a training seminar has been a highlight of each successive annual convention of the Association. The original constitution of the Association was adopted and signed at the organizational meeting and the thirty-rive investigators present became the charter members of the Association and the nucleus of an organization that has steadily grown to several hundred members today.
The express purpose for which the National Association of Legal Investigators was founded, the professionalization of the legal investigator, still holds forth today and is accomplished by the national and regional investigation seminars sponsored by the Association; by its professional certification program; by its quarterly publication, The Legal Investigator; by its website NALI Online, and by the nationwide network of contact provided among members.
Since its founding convention in the summer of 1967, the National Association of Legal Investigators has held an annual convention each year and sponsored a national investigation seminar, featuring prominent lecturers from all disciplines throughout the country, in conjunction with each such convention. In addition, each year the Association sponsors several regional seminars in various sections of the country.
In June 1992 at St. Louis, Missouri the 25th Anniversary of NALI was celebrated. Special awards and commemorative rings were given to the remaining active founding fathers.
Past national seminars have featured speakers on such topics as the investigation of products liability and negligent design cases, the investigation of professional malpractice, the investigation of railroad crossing cases, air crash investigation, admiralty investigation, interview technique and proper statement technique, photography, accident reconstruction, and criminal defense investigation, to name a very few. An entire seminar dealing with environmental health litigation and investigation has also been held.
The Association also enforces a Code of Ethics among its members, which was adopted in 1970. The Preamble to the Code of Ethics provides that, “A legal investigator is dedicated to a search of truth and furtherance of his employer or his client’s interest consistent therewith. This search for truth makes possible the establishment of the American ideals of fairness and justice for the benefit of the client in every case the investigator works on. It should be the intention of every investigator to deal honestly, justly and courteously with all with whom he comes in contact and to practice his profession according to this Code of Ethics.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage of membership in the National Association of Legal Investigators is access to help in practically every state that is as quick and accessible as a telephone call to another member. The Association publishes and updates a national membership directory which contains the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and investigative specialties of all members.
The overall goal of the Association has been and continues to be fulfillment of its motto, “Without the true facts, there can be no justice.”