Thomas Mazziotti, Hall Booth Smith, Atlanta.

Tom Mazziotti has left internatonal firm Greenberg Traurig, where he was a shareholder, for a partnership at Hall Booth Smith, saying the smaller, Atlanta-based litigation defense firm is a better fit for his trial practice.

Mazziotti said he moved to Hall Booth so he can focus on products, medical malpractice and transportation defense cases. At Greenberg, he said he’d been handling more general business litigation.

“It’s not where I wanted my practice to be headed,” he said.

In 12 years at Greenberg, Mazziotti also handled product liability and med-mal cases, but he said the products liability cases tended to be mass torts.

In his own practice, he’s representing clients in single suits. “I didn’t need an international law firm for that type of practice,” he said. One of his current products liability cases, for example, is filed in Georgia—and the client isn’t being sued anywhere else.

“I love being in a courtroom,” said Mazziotti, who started his career 20 years ago at local defense firm Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers. “The larger cases do not lend themselves as much to being in court—you take lots of depositions, but you don’t try cases as much. So I found myself in the courtroom far less over at Greenberg than in the past when I was doing this type of work,”

Hall Booth Smith has broadened its practice beyond insurance defense into more general business litigation, and the firm has expanded beyond its Atlanta roots, with 180 lawyers in offices throughout the Southeast.

“It’s the best of both worlds. I couldn’t do what I want to do at a large firm, but a small firm would not have the resources,” Mazziotti said, adding that his clients sometimes need assistance in areas such as business litigation and labor and employment law.

“I like John Hall’s vision here of becoming a more prominent Southeastern firm,” he added. “Back when I started out, Hall Booth was an Atlanta-based firm and that was it.”

Mazziotti joined Greenberg from Alston & Bird in 2005 as part of a five-lawyer medical malpractice and product liability team led by shareholder Lori Cohen, who’s established a national reputation for her mass torts practice.

Mazziotti called Cohen a “good friend” and mentor and said he worked closely with her for six or seven years before joining Ernest Greer and Rich Valladares’s team, handling business litigation and some torts. Valladeres co-chairs Greenberg’s Atlanta business litigation practice and Greer, formerly the managing shareholder for the Atlanta office, is now the firm’s co-president.

“Over the last few years, I’ve gravitated back toward doing more tort work and enjoying it more,” Mazziotti said. “On the business litigation team, I was on my own little island a little bit.”

Mazziotti declined to name clients but said he’s currently representing some product manufacturers and companies with their own trucking fleets. “Greenberg Traurig’s clients remain with Greenberg Traurig,” he said.

He said he decided Hall Booth, which he joined June 1, “would be a good fit culturally and more so practice-wise,” adding that he personally knew the three founders, John Hall, Alex Booth and Rush Smith. “I think the world of them. They are great trial lawyers,” he said.

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