Blake Sharpton has left Jones Cork & Miller, where he was a partner, to join bond firm Peck, Shaffer & Williams‘ Atlanta office as a partner.

Sharpton said he made the move so he can focus on public finance work, explaining that he handled a broader range of matters at Jones Cork, including general transactions and business litigation.

“There’s too much to keep up with in the regulatory world from a securities and tax law perspective. You can’t be a toe-dipper,” said Sharpton. “It’s not a good idea to do part-time bond law. It’s like being a part-time litigator. You’ve just got to choose.”

Being able to tap the expertise of other bond lawyers is also a draw, Sharpton said.

Peck Shaffer is a national bond boutique, based in Cincinnati. Jones Cork is a full-service, 27-lawyer business firm based in Macon, with a strong emphasis on litigation.

Sharpton said he has a traditional bond practice, representing Georgia school systems, cities and counties in bond deals to finance schools, roads, sewers, government buildings and other projects.

He declined to name clients but said public schools are his major client. “I do work for public school systems in every corner of the state,” said Sharpton.

Jerry Peterson, a partner at Peck Shaffer, said his firm recruited Sharpton to add a traditional government finance practice to its Atlanta office. Peterson said he and the firm’s other lawyers in Atlanta, David Williams and Susan Pease Langford, handle tax-exempt finance primarily for colleges, universities and health care institutions.

“Blake has developed a nice practice on his own. He does a lot of school and governmental financing, which is what we were looking for,” said Peterson.

“We’re very happy to welcome Blake into our practice. Blake is highly respected in the public finance practice in Georgia and elsewhere,” said Williams, the managing partner of Peck Shaffer’s Atlanta office, in a statement.

H. Jerome Strickland of Jones Cork said it was a cordial departure. “We wish him well,” Strickland said.

Sharpton, 36, worked as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch before earning a law degree from Mercer University in 2006. He spent six years at Jones Cork before joining Peck Shaffer on Aug. 20.

He said he knew the Peck Shaffer lawyers from working on bond deals with them. “It’s a small crowd,” Sharpton said. “There are 15 to 20 bond lawyers in the state who are really active.”

Sharpton will remain in Macon, where his wife’s family resides, with frequent trips to Peck Shaffer’s Atlanta office.

“Frankly, it’s better to be in Macon for a bond practice,” said Sharpton, explaining that he drives all over the state to represent his clients. “Macon is centrally located, so it’s an ideal jumping-off point and I can come to Atlanta as needed.”

He said the bankers he works with are all in Atlanta, so having an Atlanta office will be beneficial.

Sharpton is opening a Macon office for Peck Shaffer in Macon’s SunTrust Bank Building, located at 435 2nd St.


Bryan Gershkowitz has joined Barnes & Thornburg‘s finance, insolvency and restructuring practice from McCalla Raymer as of counsel. He represents secured lenders in foreclosures, litigation, distressed property workouts and restructurings, and real estate transactions. Gershkowitz has also worked in-house at Richardson Riley & Associates and EastCoast Communities and was an associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman has elected Laura Fahey Fritts and Jonathan Waldrop to partner in its Atlanta office and promoted Daniel Cohen to special counsel. Fritts and Waldrop, both intellectual property litigators, were previously special counsel. Cohen is a business litigator with a focus on representing college athletic departments in Title IX compliance cases.

Emory University‘s board of trustees has elected Diane Savage, a lawyer in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of Cooley, as a term trustee. Savage, who received her undergraduate degree from Emory, was previously an alumni trustee.

Mercer Law School has launched a Master of Laws program in federal criminal practice and procedure with eight students. The new LLM program for aspiring prosecutors, federal defenders and criminal defense lawyers started classes on Aug. 20.

Two Emory University law professors will give talks on vulnerability as a legal concept on Sept. 13. Martha Fineman, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and an expert on feminist legal theory, will present vulnerability as an alternative notion to the “equal protection” standard with the potential to move society beyond the “stifling confines of current discrimination-based models,” in a talk called “Vulnerability and the Human Condition.”

Fineman, who directs Emory Law’s Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, is giving the talk as this year’s Harold J. Berman Lecture.

Barbara Woodhouse, the L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law, will discuss ways a shared religious tradition fosters laws and policies that address children’s vulnerability and help them build resilience in a talk called “Blessing Vulnerability, Building Resilience: Children, Church and Community.” Woodhouse is an expert on children’s rights and the faculty adviser to Emory Law’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center. Her talk is the Don S. Browning Lecture.

The lectures will be at 4:30 p.m. at Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium, 1301 Clifton Road N.E.

The Southern Public Defender Training Center is hosting an Autumn Soiree fundraiser on Sept. 20 featuring former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher as the keynote speaker. Jon Rapping, former trainer for the Georgia public defender program and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, founded the nonprofit in 2007 to train new public defenders and change the culture of indigent defense. Since then, the program has expanded to train law clerks, criminal defense clinicians and trainers as well as new lawyers.

The Autumn Soiree cocktail reception, which includes a silent raffle, will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Tickets are $75 in advance and $100 at the door. Call 404-935-6405 or go to to purchase them.