I was a reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court when it heard the 2000 presidential election cases. I especially remember the hundreds of people outside the court chanting slogans and waving signs. The scene made me think that, in some countries, a civil war might have broken out but not here, because even in the most bitter battles we let lawyers fight it out.
So on this day after another presidential election, the Daily Report recognizes the work of dozens of lawyers who help their clients—and by extension, our society—solve problems through the rule of law.
As in past years, we are taking note of in-house legal departments and law firm litigation departments that achieved tremendous results. This year we are letting the winners tell their stories in their own words via question-and-answer articles.
We are also, for the first time, recognizing an “Attorney of the Year,” who had the biggest impact on the Georgia legal community or most helped to advance the cause of justice during 2015.
For that assignment, we asked six experienced lawyers to review the nominations, vote in a slate of finalists and determine a winner. My role—aside from enjoying their discussions—was to break any tie votes.
We were honored to have the following lawyers on our panel:
• Phyllis Holmen, the longtime executive director of the Georgia Legal Services Program;
• Leah Ward Sears, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, of Smith Gambrell & Russell;
• Frank Strickland of Strickland Brockington Lewis, a former general counsel of the state Republican Party and chairman of the Legal Services Corp.;
• Michael Terry, a partner at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore and former Atlanta Bar Association president;
• Lizanne Thomas, who heads Jones Day’s corporate governance team and is partner-in-charge of the firm’s Southern U.S. region; and
• Larry Thompson of Finch McCranie, a former deputy U.S. attorney general and general counsel to PepsiCo.
They generously provided their time in helping decide the winner and speaking to our reporters about the finalists.