A Powerhouse Fighting for the People – Beth Klein, The True Power of Attorney

the story of Haiti it was not a case that you're involved with tell us about that the Haiti earthquake came and I got a call and the mom was on the phone and she's I've got an adopted two-year-old she's at the gods Little Angels orphanage in Haiti everything's crushed people are dead these kids are running around there's no food there's no water everything is happening can you do something what do you do you can't say no okay well we'll do whatever we can and then we wanted to get jets to go down and get kids that had been legitimately adopted in Haiti back to the their parents in the United States there were bidding wars for planes and we raised so much money every child got back to the United States for free every child says are we talking about here 750 [Music] [Applause] [Music] here with me today is Beth Klein one of the nation's top trial attorneys you're part of a team has been working the last ten years to get a bill that was just signed into law by the president you've been named well the top 50 most powerful women in the world that you won't on your side with people like Oprah and Michelle Obama and just a powerhouse and fighting for victims and human trafficking but you do so much more I mean what do you tell people you do at a cocktail I tell them exactly what I do and that's I used my powers for good I have a life commitment to the health safety and well-being of all children and that is the context from which I run my life and make my decisions take action and it is a magnificent way to run a life and to have all the things that you do be consistent with that be known for that and have the opportunity to really solve some big problems within there that world and I love it that's fantastic is this what you always knew you wanted to do when you grew up well I knew that I wanted to be an attorney when I was 10 in fifth grade and I made that decision right then and there was there something happened at that time I went to elementary school in Colorado Springs and back in that time there was a lot of racial tension in our community and we had one family who was black and their daughter Vera was my age and era became my best friend we used to spend our time at recess flying around holding hands running around a playground and one day a big bully named Scott came up and pushed Farrah down and she was so little and she was on the ground and bleeding and crying and I stood up to big Scott my eyes met his belly button and looked up at him and said I'm gonna sue you and he just laughed and he said you don't know what that even means and he was right I did it so I went home that night and I talked to our next-door neighbor mr.

Pelton and mr. Pelton was a highly respected attorney in Colorado Springs and I told him what happened told him what I said and I said what did I say this was this wrong he said now the courtroom is for the little people where bullies get stopped and I thought to myself that's exactly what I want to do and exactly at that time there really were no women attorneys period and I didn't care I just decided that I was gonna go ahead and do what I needed to do to make sure that my friends and the people who didn't have a voice weren't exploited and that's exactly what I've done that's amazing and was it was a little more difficult kind of coming in and trailblazing as a woman trial attorney well I don't know I don't have anything to compare it to I think it was actually pretty funny because when I became an attorney back in 1988 there just weren't really any of us we didn't know how to dress we didn't know how to act judges didn't know what to do with us juries didn't know what to do with us and so what we had to do is we had to forget about being like somebody else and just really learn to be ourselves when you got out of law school what was your first job as an attorney my first job out of law school was with a boutique insurance defense firm along in Jaudon and it was a premier defense firm and we got the greatest cases that you could possibly imagine me when President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley one of his bodyguards mr.

Brady was shot and Brady bought it brought a case against the psychologist who had been treating mr. Hinckley and I got to be on that defense team Wow Arata law school to be involved in that level of a litigation was amazing we had the first AIDS contamination case from blood banks we had the very first mass tort cases l-tryptophan had the first mass torts and asbestos and I worked on those cases so it was a great opportunity but it was a limited opportunity that firm was not about to make a woman a law partner and so there was always um just the idea that just do your best and get what you can out of this experience and practice forgiveness and just keep trying to do better and better and better with the things that that you can control what happened from there well how did you come to leave that and then did you open your own firm I had a baby boy and having a child was a stressful on the firm because I couldn't put in the time that I used to and so there came a day for I needed to go and I was fired from that job and it's the best thing that ever happened to me and I to this day I'm very grateful that we parted ways and I thank them very much for that I left that firm I took a major client with me at 31 years old I left a firm with a fortune 50 company as a client managed the entire docket for the state of Colorado for asbestos defense for Owens Corning fiberglass and then I got invited to try out for their national trial counsel job and at that time asbestos was on the rise the first asbestos case was filed in Texas in the 60s and then the mesothelioma Dimmick came in and the cases just started getting more and more and more as this terrible human disaster unfolded has 750,000 cases pending and this is before computers internet all of that so you're managing things on paper and so this was the very very beginning of mass tort and mass tort management and owens-corning figured out and rightly so that there are people who are great at management there are people who are great at doing depositions they're people who great at paperwork and brief writing and then there are a few people who are nutty enough to walk into a courtroom and work with juries and there are fewer people who are willing to do that Johnny on the spot so they segmented our work and they decided they were gonna pick five people for their national trial team and you had to be ready to go try a case anywhere at any time and you get your case assignment on Friday night and you'd be ready to go on Monday anywhere in the country so I thought that might be a really fun job to do so I went and tried out and there were two women and like 98 men and I got this I got the spot that's awesome so let's talk about this bill then we got signed in the wall can you tell me a little bit about what it is when the internet was begun the idea of the internet was that everything should be free and available and we should be able to build platforms for sharing of information knowledge art all kinds of good things and I don't think that we all thought that the internet might turn dark it could be a place where there could be massive criminal activity where people could be exploited for people could be hurt online it wasn't really part of the vision and so in the beginning the big platform providers like Facebook and Google people but entities where third parties would post online they were granted complete immunity so they had no responsibility whatsoever for anything it was posted on their platform and as we we began to see in the human trafficking world children were being sold on Backpage we know that over 140 kids that were on the Missing and Exploited list people that the FBI were looking for children the FBI were looking for we're being sold and somebody was swiping a credit card and paying for not only the right to post on this but also for these children so there had to be a way where there would be more responsibility for ISP providers and that was the law that we wanted to change so that people can't post terrorism videos people can't you know advertise the child for sale people can't harm everybody online where there's third party you're now responsible for the content and that wasn't the thinking when we were starting this law but we were thinking about those kids that we didn't want to see sold and they're young they were young kids and that was in my head and so we tried a lot of different ways sheriff dart tried to sue back page it was case was dismissed they tried to see them in Seattle case was absolutely dismissed because of this immunity barrier so finally after many many years and building a coalition and having people realized that the internet isn't a free-for-all and that there needs to be responsibility this love was signed into our books and January 2017 and I'm very grateful for that and now we see providers becoming more responsible YouTube having to track video trying to come up with ways we're really harmful Communications can be stopped and so I have no idea exactly how that's gonna go forward in our society but I think it's a good thing to control harmful communications and when we're talking about these young kids are we talking about in different countries are we talking about here at home well most of the kids here are trafficked here are from our foster care system large large numbers um in Denver you know I keep my eye on that with the Denver Police Department and our innocence lost task force nearly a hundred percent of children are from middle school middle school middle school age and you think about when you were in middle school and how confused you were and girls are confused and so it's a time if you don't have a good foundation you can really get in some trouble we know that addiction drives this now people do once you're addicted people do anything to satisfy that need and we're now creating more compassion around that you know before it was like oh just a junkie you know but that's not the story of that person when you look deeper this story is a journey and they need a community to help and I see some hope in our society now that we're looking at this opioid crisis and it was a huge community opportunity to help people that deserve it and not throw them away so let's keep talking about kids and it impacts someone can make I mean this this story of Haiti it was not a case that you're involved with tell us about that my law firm likes to take on big projects we like to challenge ourselves we like to think about what we want our life to look like for the year would be an extraordinary thing to do and not just for the sake of doing something historian but really practice it and so we had designed a Oh a program where we were gonna save a life a day every day for one year and how would we do that how would we outreach how would be you know how would we resource this thing we're really committed to intervening and helping somebody everyday in a big way and then the Haiti earthquake came about three weeks into our project and I got a call and the mom was on the phone and she's I've got an adopted two-year-old she's at the God's little angels orphanage in Haiti everything's crushed people are dead these kids are running around there's no food there's no water there are all kinds of diseases violence everything is happening can you do something what do you do you can't say no okay well we'll do whatever we can and then just you could tell in the world that everybody wanted to help you could feel it everybody wanted to be there everybody wanted to help children everybody wanted to help people in Haiti and just starting to talk about that project and putting a post on my Facebook page that we wanted to get Jets to go down and get kids that had been legitimately adopted in Haiti back to their parents in the United States working with CENTCOM which was the military operation department that was in charge of of that particular zone working with people from the Pentagon to figure out how you could get legitimate identification get kids across the border finding people who'd help walk babies across the border in Miami and Texas making sure that there were long-term care for all these brand-new instant families that got created surprise right overnight dealing with children who just watched lots and lots of people die and who are afraid to be inside afraid of ceilings and never been on the plane you know and just make you public that you're a resource and access point for everybody to participate I mean there were bidding wars for planes and we raised so much money every child got back to the United States for free every child kids are we talking about here 750 every child's family they had an opportunity with the Kemp foundation to have counseling for becoming an instant family and how you deal with all this drama and just the number of people that wanted to participate it was just a flood of human beings want to keep wanting to be good they wanted to donate money they wanted to donate planes they wanted to donate time they wanted to do whatever it took to make sure that this got completed and done right and that's exactly what happened what did it feel like when that first plane touched down well I watched it on television and I was just absolutely wreck it was so happy and I you know watching the children come off the plane they're so so scared and America smells different than other countries we have an antiseptic smell to our air you know watching kids come up and you know smell the air and just their eyes are so big and just knowing that they have no earthly idea of what an amazing opportunity to just open up for them their life was gonna be so different and most of this kids have committed to go back to Haiti and do something good for their communities they didn't lose touch with their people and I think that is so important always to go back to your people to my you know your community your parents your neighborhoods and if you've got a great gift like a loss degree or an opportunity to live in America going back and giving back it's just makes your life extraordinary do you feel like a real-life superhero no no yeah why not because all I know is that I spark action and other people to do extraordinary things and so I guess I look at myself as like a Johnny Appleseed which you know going around and sprinkling inspiration isn't that difficult but I think it's needed and I love that I mean with everything you've done do you feel like you've changed the world no I feel like I have inspired other people to gather in that only together does the tipping point happen there are other people who are it's inspiring if not more so than me and the more that we can work together the more that gets no one does anything by themselves at all what word of advice would you give someone who wants to go out there and help change the world get off your butt and if you want to do it and figure out exactly where you want to be in ten years map it backwards and take your first step take the first step mm-hmm I love that well Beth thank you I know you've inspired me today and just the millions of people that are out there as well to to literally just decide that you're gonna do something and then you know just make that next little step it's been wonderful for me i opening life-changing so thank you thank you thanks so much for making this happen [Music] [Music] you

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