After 16 years on the defense side—the last eight at Insley & Race—Jim Myers has joined plaintiffs firm Pratt Clay.
“I was ready to stop representing corporations and start helping people—the typical reason,” he said, adding that it’s rare for people to go in the other direction, from the plaintiffs to defense side.
“I like being on offense versus on defense,” he added.
Myers spent the first eight years of his career at Cleveland firm Roetzel & Andress and then eight more as a partner at Insley and Race. “It was a good opportunity to learn, and I gained exposure to a lot of issues and sophisticated cases, with good mentors,” he said.
In one premises win at Insley and Race, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment for Myers’ apartment manager client Hercules Real Estate Services, against a plaintiff, Derrick George, who sued for negligence. George opened his apartment door, saw two strange men, fired a shot and tried to close the door and deadbolt it, but not before the men shot him four times.
Like Myers, who joined Pratt Clay as of counsel, firm founders Chuck Clay and Bradley Pratt came from defense backgrounds. Clay opened his own plaintiffs shop in 2013 after 14 years as a defense litigator at Weinberg, Wheeler, Hudgins, Gunn & Dial, while Pratt, formerly at King & Spalding, joined forces with Clay in 2017 to form the plaintiffs firm.
Myers said he knew Clay from a premises liability case in which Clay was opposing counsel.
“It’s been a great personality fit with Chuck and Bradley, because we all come from the defense side,” Myers said. “We work up cases the same way—they are very detailed and thorough.
Myers, who joined Pratt Clay on Feb. 1, said that so far he’s handling a lot of premises liability and negligent security cases, plus medical malpractice claims, as he did on the defense side, and will broaden his scope as he gets acclimated.
“I’m using muscles I did not use on the defense side, doing case assessment from the ground up and dealing with the personalities and damages issues,” Myers said.
“I have enjoyed personal contact with plaintiffs and the opportunity to get more in-depth on my cases, in terms of facts and legal issues,” he said, now that he’s building the case instead of defending against it.
Pratt Clay handles a broad mix of plaintiffs cases, including wrongful death, truck accidents and other catastrophic injury claims, class actions and whistleblower claims.
Since plaintiffs attorneys get paid on contingency, that can be a barrier to defense lawyers seeking to make the leap. “That’s a challenge, but it’s something you consider and plan for,” Myers said. “It can be a big barrier. There is a lot of safety and security on the defense side.”
Employment law boutique Mays & Kerr’s three lawyers have joined plaintiffs firm Parks, Chesin & Walbert. John Mays joined as a partner and Dustin Crawford and William Cleveland joined as associates. The trio will focus on plaintiffs employment and wage & hour claims. (Jeff Kerr, the firm’s other partner, left in 2015 to start CaseFleet, which makes litigation management software.)
Eric Hilton has joined Hall Booth Smith as a partner from Freeman Mathis & Gary. At Hall Booth, he will handle construction disputes, employment matters, government affairs and issues affecting aging services providers. Before going into private practice in 2013, Hilton served as the general counsel for construction and real estate development company H.J. Russell & Co. He serves as outside general counsel to several construction companies and developers. Hilton serves on the boards of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity and the Latin American Association.
Clyde & Co has added partner Stacey Farrell and associate Marlie McDonnell from The Farrell Firm to its global insurance practice. Farrell, who handles complex insurance coverage disputes, started her own firm in 2017 after serving as co-chair of the property insurance practice at Cozen O’Connor. That gives Clyde & Co 16 lawyers in its Atlanta office, the local managing partner Bob Fisher said in an announcement, after opening the office in 2014 with three lawyers
Savannah business law firm Bouhan Falligant has named Melanie Marks as managing partner. Marks, who has spent her entire career with Bouhan Falligant, is the 25-lawyer firm’s first woman leader in its 135-year history. She practices in trusts and estates, elder and real estate law. Marks is a former president of the Savannah Estate Planning Council and former board chair of the board for Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire.
Bouhan Falligant has also hired Gregory Finch as an associate from Steptoe & Johnson in Louisville, Kentucky. Finch joined the litigation practice and is focusing on health care, transportation and professional liability matters.
Carlton Fields has elected two Atlanta lawyers to shareholder: Justan Bounds and Jason Morris. Bounds represents companies, officers, directors and individuals in a variety of commercial disputes. Morris represents property and casualty insurers in litigation, mediation and arbitration.
Savannah’s HunterMaclean has elected Rebecca Clarkson to partner. Clarkson has a real estate practice handling commercial finance and real estate litigation.
MendenFreiman has promoted Jeffrey Meek to senior counsel. Meek advises high net worth individuals and families, plus privately held companies on business, tax and estate planning matters.
Locke Lord has elected Atlanta partner Liz Campbell to its board of directors. Campbell defends companies in litigation matters as a member of the business litigation and consumer finance groups. She serves on the firm’s diversity & inclusion and pro bono committees.
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has named Atlanta partner Tywanda Lord to the firm’s 12-member executive committee, which considers strategy and policy issues. Lord handles trademark and advertising counseling and litigation for a broad spectrum of brand owners.