New York


Russel Jackson Drake

[email protected]
Birmingham Office


Prior to his retirement on July 31, 2013, Mr. Drake was one of the leading constitutional rights lawyers of his generation.  After graduation from the University of Alabama Law School in 1969, Mr. Drake went to work as staff counsel for the Selma Interreligious Project which was a Civil Rights organization dedicated to helping create economic opportunity for African-Americans in Alabama's Black Belt.  In that capacity, he worked with the Freedom Quilting Bee, helped establish several daycare centers and worked with numerous farmers as well as farmers' organizations.  Mr. Drake was one of the Plaintiff lawyers in Wyatt v. Stickney, a landmark case that set minimum standards of care for patients in mental hospitals in Alabama and subsequently the nation. Drake also represented plaintiffs in Wallace v. Brewer which declared unconstitutional the Alabama statute which required all "Black Muslims" living in Alabama to register with the Secretary of State and declared unconstitutional the legislative resolution which established the Alabama Commission To Preserve The Peace. Drake was also involved in other constitutional litigation which improved conditions in Alabama's prisons as well as local jails.   Mr. Drake also represented consumers and victims of all types for almost 45 years.  His practice concentrated in the areas of complex litigation, class actions and mass torts.

Mr. Drake was the lead lawyer in the first major jury verdict against the manufacturer of the CU-7 intrauterine device.  He held leadership roles and appointments to plaintiffs' executive and steering committees in nationwide products liability and consumer class actions including appointment to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in litigation against Medtronic in the Medtronic Sprint Fidelis Leads MDL.  Mr. Drake was also actively involved in the Medtronic Defibrillator Litigation in which the firm had an active role and in nationwide products liability litigation involving Seroquel, Zyprexa, Vioxx, Gadolinium (MRI), and Yazmin.  Additionally, Mr. Drake was extensively involved in oil and gas litigation including royalty cases, underground storage tank cases, and was also involved in an action against the manufacturers and distributors of underground piping systems sold to independent retail gasoline operators.  He was also involved in numerous securities and annuity cases both on behalf of individuals and classes including In re HealthSouth Securities Litigation.

Prior to retirement, he was licensed and a member of the Bar in the States of Alabama, Texas, and New York.  He was admitted to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Fifth Circuits, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama, Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Texas, and Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Drake is the author of:

"Drafting The Case:  The Parallel Legacies of Wyatt v. Stickney and Lynch v. Baxley, 35 Law & Psychology Review, 167 (2011); Foreword, Turning The Tide (Alabama Press 2014).   "Enforcing the Right to Treatment," 10 American Criminal Law Review, 587, 1972, and "Judicial Implementation and Wyatt v. Stickney,´32 Al. L. Rev. 299, 1981, and has lectured at the University of Alabama Law School, 1983-87. Chapter in "Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers" (Florida Press 2016).

Mr. Drake has served as a member of the Alabama Ethics Commission, 1988-2003 (Chairman, 2003); the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference (1986-88); and the Lawyer's Advisory Committee of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.  Mr. Drake was a member of the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association during which time he held various positions including service on the Executive Committee in 1979 and as President from 1980 to 1981.  In the Alabama State Bar, he has held various positions including Chairman, 1979; Member, Committee on Prepaid Legal Services; Chairman, Task Force on Illiteracy, 1989; Member, IOLTA Task Force; Member, Local Bar Activities; Member, Supreme Court Task Force on Judicial Building; Member, Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Criminal Procedure; Member, Labor Law Section; Executive Committee, Young Lawyers Section, 1977; Task Force on Minority Participation, 1995-96; and Chairman, 1996-97.  Mr. Drake was also a member of the Alabama Association for Justice where he has served on the Board of Governors and on the Executive Committee, and is a Trustee of TRIAL.  He was also a member of the American Association for Justice and New York State Bar Association. He was named a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1995.

Mr. Drake served as a member of the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee from 1986 to 1996.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Birmingham Museum of Art and is active in various arts organizations.

Reported Cases:  Avis Rent-a-Car Systems v. Heilman, 976 So.2d 1111 (Ala. 2003); Peters v. Amoco, 57 F. Supp.2d 1268 (M.D. (Ala. 1999); Clark v. Container Corporation of America, Al. Sup Ct. 589 So.2d 184 (Ala. 1992); Henderson v. Graddick, 641 F.Supp. 1192 (Three Judge Court), appeal dismissed, 107 S.Ct. 681 (1986); Ex Parte Graddick, 495 So.2d 1367 (Ala. 1986); Ex Parte Baxley, 497 So.2d 30 (Ala. 1986); Dodson v. Atrax, 437 So.2d 1294 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983); DeStafney v. University of Alabama, 413 So.2d 391 (Ala. 1982); City of Tuscaloosa v. Board of Trustees, Fire and Police, 677 So.2d 198 (Ala. 1996); Henderson v. Alabama Power Co., 627 So.2d 878 (Ala. 1993); Wyatt v. Stickney, 344 F.Supp. 373, 387 (M.D. Ala. 1972).

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