Attorney Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson, president of Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, has been named Emory University School of Law’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni, the school’s highest honor.
Established in 1985, the annual recognition pays tribute to law school graduates who embody the values of the school and have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the legal profession, dedication to Emory University and in service to the community. Emory University is consistently ranked among the top 30 law schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Eidson was honored at the Emory Law Alumni Awards banquet in Atlanta, GA on Apr. 12. Interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr. presented the award.
“As a proud Emory Law alumnus, I am incredibly honored by this recognition,” Eidson said. “Emory Law provided the foundation for my legal career and I am grateful for the significant lessons and values instilled in me, which I have utilized in my practice every day.”
Eidson’s selection signifies the remarkable legal career and civic and philanthropic accomplishments that he has established since graduating from Emory Law in 1971 as a Lamar Law Scholar. In 1998, he established the Kessler-Eidson Foundation at Emory Law, which offers annual scholarships to two women dedicated to trial practice or public service. Simultaneously, he co-endowed the acclaimed Emory Law School Kessler-Eidson Trial Technique Program, a two-week session that second year law students are required to attend in order to graduate. Modeled after the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, the Kessler-Eidson Trial Technique Program has become the largest in the country and is recognized as one of the finest in the nation for teaching trial advocacy.
Eidson established the scholarship and program in honor of his late friend and fellow Emory Law alum, Kathy Kessler, who was tragically killed in the 1996 ValuJet Airlines crash. Eidson also dedicated a special wing in the MacMillan Law Library in honor of Kathy Kessler and the students who have received the annual scholarship.
In addition to establishing the scholarship program at Emory Law, Eidson also has awarded scholarships for the past 25 years to aspiring female trial lawyers through the American Association for Justice, the University of Miami and Florida International University.
“Women are clearly underrepresented in the practice of trial law and we want to do our part to provide opportunities to close the gap and encourage young female trial lawyers. Proudly, today, Colson Hicks Eidson is comprised of 50 percent women who are all exceptional trial lawyers,” Eidson said.
A nationally recognized trial lawyer, Eidson concentrates his practice in the fields of products liability litigation. aviation, class action and multi-district litigation. Best known for his work on some of the largest automotive recalls in U.S. history, he has tried more than 120 cases to jury verdict during his career.
He served as national lead co-counsel in the Ford-Firestone tire multi-district litigation and was also appointed to the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the multi-district litigation against Toyota Motor Corp. over sudden unintended acceleration. With his partners, Bill Colson and Bill Hicks, Eidson tried and won, the first case alleging that the Ford Pinto fuel system was defective.
This case played an important role in improving automobile fuel systems, greatly reducing fuel-fed fires worldwide.
In addition to his national public service and professional activities, Eidson is committed to service in the Miami-Dade community. A longtime supporter of the performing arts in South Florida, he previously served as chair for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and is a founding member of the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to creating and sustaining a vibrant urban area surrounding the Arsht Center. He served as president of the world-acclaimed Miami City Ballet for nine years, and has founded and supported many other organizations in music, theater and dance.
“Mike’s passion for the performing arts led him to invest beyond the walls of the beautiful venues he helped build in Miami and into the artists themselves,” said Lourdes Lopez, artistic director of the Miami City Ballet.
“In this way, he has shaped the cultural fabric of Miami, creating a vibrant forum where artists can work and give their individual and creative expression to theater, dance and music…he has helped Miami catapult itself into a leadership position in the arts among America’s great cities,” she added.