History and Mission


ARLA Was Founded in 1989 to Help Counter Legislative Threats to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)

ARLA’s Objectives as Drafted by its Founding Members

  • to promote rail safety for the traveling public
  • to promote safe working conditions and standards for railroad employees
  • to promote a system of full and adequate compensation for injured railroad workers by maintenance of the FELA which provides for trial by jury
  • to promote the rendering of whatever aid, comfort or assistance may be required of an injured railroad employee client or his or her family client
  • to provide educational opportunities for attorneys who are members of the association and
  • to promote and maintain high standards of professional ethics, competency and demeanor in the bench and bar– to promote and protect those employees who voice safety concerns by supporting FRSA Whistleblower protection



Through the years, ARLA has held fast to its founding mission – to protect and preserve the FELA.  One of the organization’s great strengths has been its ability to bring FELA practitioners together to share information and in turn preserve the FELA for railroad workers and their families.

    “Tort law is intended to further twin purposes: deterrence of unsafe practices and compensation for injuries.  By those measures, the F.E.L.A is irreproachable.”

Bruce E. Fein Former Associate Deputy Attorney General


The Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys (ARLA) adds our voice to the millions condemning racial and economic inequality that persists in our country today.  For more than three decades ARLA has partnered with Rail Labor Organizations to represent and defend injured union workers of all crafts, races, creeds, and genders.  We will continue to aggressively represent our union brothers and sisters and treat every person with dignity and respect, the very foundation upon which the labor movement was built.

The repeated, horrific and unjustifiable killings of Black people at the hands of police – George Floyd, Tyre Nichols and so many others in our community – has spawned protests, marches, calls for legislative change, a nationwide debate over policing policies, and outrage from every corner of the globe.   We are all soul searching.

We must act.  What we are seeing on the streets now is not just the response to the murder of George Floyd and others, but the ramification of an unbalanced society built on an inherently racist understructure.   We have to be honest about this country’s real history.

Apathy is not an option for our organization and its members in these troubling times.  ARLA members believe that we cannot stand by and merely hope that the injustices surrounding economic and racial inequality in our country solve themselves.  We will work for true equality not just for members of organized labor and those we represent, but for all members of our communities.

We condemn racism in all forms and support the Black Lives Matter movement.  As Bryan Stevenson wrote in Just Mercy, “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.”   As lawyers and community leaders, we will do more.