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Gary E. Jackson says he is the first lawyer in the state to take advantage of the State Bar of Georgia’s new rules on selling a law practice. In January, Jackson, a collections attorney who became a full-time judge on the City Court of Atlanta (traffic court) bench last December, sold his portion of Loewenthal & Jackson to Northcutt, Edwards, Gordon, Perrotta & Feingold, an Atlanta civil practice firm. Last June, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved Rule 1.17 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule, which took effect Jan. 1, makes it lawful for a lawyer or a law firm to sell or purchase a law practice, including intangible assets such as good will, as long as certain conditions are met. Previously, a lawyer was not permitted to sell his practice but could transfer client files to another attorney with the client’s permission. Conditions to the rule include requiring that the practice be sold in its entirety to another lawyer or law firm. Also, written notice must be given to each of the seller’s clients regarding the proposed sale and the terms of any proposed fee arrangement changes. The client also must be apprised in writing of the right to retain other counsel or take possession of the client file. The purchasing firm can’t increase fees for the clients that it inherits unless it’s to charge its customary rates. But it can refuse to represent a client who doesn’t want to pay its fee schedule. A public reprimand is the maximum penalty for violating the rule. Jackson says he sold all 250 of his active litigation files to the Northcutt firm and negotiated with Louis R. Feingold, a partner there, for the sale. Jackson says he still meets regularly with Northcutt lawyers to review the history of his old cases. He shopped around before selling to the Northcutt firm, he says. “I talked to a lot of lawyers who have collection-type practices,” says Jackson. “Louis Feingold and I have a lot in common.” Jackson declined to disclose the selling price for his stake in Loewenthal & Jackson. William P. Smith III, general counsel for the Georgia Bar, says lawyers are not required to notify the Bar when they sell or buy a law practice. There’s no way for the Bar to know whether Jackson is the first lawyer in Georgia to invoke this rule, Smith says. Loewenthal & Jackson is now called Loewenthal & Fleming. Robert J. Fleming, formerly of Evert & Weathersby, joined Loewenthal at the beginning of the year. Loewenthal & Fleming does plaintiff-side civil litigation work. Jackson is a former part-time Fulton County magistrate judge and former Municipal Court judge pro hac vice. He also hosted a WSB-carried radio talk show, “Legal Action with Gary Jackson” for about 10 years. MIDDLETON LEAVES FIRM Richard H. Middleton Jr., name partner with Middleton, Mathis, Adams & Tate, has left the firm and joined South Carolina-based Suggs & Kelly as a name partner. The change was effective Feb. 1. The new firm, Suggs Kelly & Middleton, will have offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Florence, S.C., as well as Savannah, where Middleton will continue to reside. The Suggs firm is a plaintiff civil litigation firm and has 18 attorneys in its South Carolina offices. Roy R. “Rob” Kelly IV, formerly an associate with Middleton Mathis, also will join the Suggs firm. Middleton says he hopes to have four lawyers in the Savannah office by the end of the year. The immediate past president of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Middleton says he will continue as chairman of ATLA’s political action committee. He’ll also serve on ATLA’s executive committee. Middleton says he sought the Suggs & Kelly firm because his law practice changed from the time he left it to become ATLA president to the end of his tenure last July. He says his firm had grown significantly. But he says he wants a smaller practice. He calls the move “a great marriage of my practice and theirs.” Middleton, Mathis, Adams & Tate was formed in 1999 when Walbert & Mathis merged with Savannah personal injury firm Middleton, Adams & Tate. With 16 attorneys listed in the Martindale-Hubbell law directory, Middleton Mathis is one of the largest plaintiffs’ firms in the state. MCGUIREWOODS ADDS TWO The Atlanta office of McGuireWoods has added two attorneys to its labor and employment practice group. James L. Matte has joined as a partner and Mary Anne Walser as an associate. Before joining McGuireWoods, Matte was a partner at Johnson Matte & Hobgood for 12 years. He says all of his clients, including Claris Corp. and The Varsity, came with him to McGuireWoods. Walser worked at Parks, Chesin, & Miller (now Parks, Chesin, Walbert & Miller) for the last two years and at King & Spalding for three years before joining Parks Chesin. Matte says there are 14 labor and employment attorneys in McGuireWoods’ Atlanta office. Briefly … Gregory B. McMenamy Jr. has joined civil litigation boutique Mayfield & Commander as a name partner. The firm’s new name is Mayfield, Commander & McMenamy. McMenamy is a former senior trial attorney at McLaughlin, Hendon, Miller & Croy, staff counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. The Atlanta office of Greenberg Traurig has two new shareholders: Vernon L. Slaughter, an entertainment lawyer and Gerald L. Baxter, a corporate and securities attorney. Slaughter was formerly an associate with the firm and Baxter was of counsel. “Shareholder,” says Baxter, is Greenberg Traurig’s term for partner.

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