Chuck Clay Chuck Clay

Chuck Clay has joined Hall Booth Smith as of counsel from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. He said he will continue with his work in government affairs but hopes to start practicing more law as well.

“The focus now is government affairs, but I miss a little bit of the courtroom,” Clay said, adding that he’s known several members of the Atlanta-based litigation firm’s government team for years. He noted that he spent six years as an assistant prosecutor for Cobb County in the early days of his legal career.

Clay had joined Nelson Mullins in 2014 from Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers, the Marietta firm formerly known as Brock, Clay, Calhoun & Rogers that he founded with D. Glenn Brock in 1985. Clay noted that he followed his longtime partner, Brock, who had moved his education practice to Nelson Mullins.

“Nelson Mullins is an outstanding firm with particular experience and expertise in Washington on education issues,” Clay said. “Hall Booth is equally gold standard, but it’s an Atlanta-based firm with my partners right down the hall.”

He said Hall Booth’s government affairs group has a Georgia focus that fits his practice, noting that its Atlanta headquarters at 191 Peachtree St. N.E. is just five blocks from the statehouse. “There is a great home atmosphere here on issues directly related to the Georgia State Capitol,” he said.

Clay, whose family goes back several generations in Marietta, was the first Republican elected to the Cobb County Board of Commissioners from the county’s western district in 1986. He went on to serve six terms in the Georgia Senate from 1988 to 2004, representing the 37th District. In 1999, he became the first person from Cobb County to be elected chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, leading the party’s efforts statewide during George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Clay said he has known members of Hall Booth’s government affairs group for years, including its leader Brad Carver, his old friend and running buddy Matt Towery (with whom he also served in the Legislature), Scott Henworth and Bob Middleton.

“It’s a pleasure to call myself a colleague of these attorneys I have respected, trusted and worked with for more than three decades,” Clay said. “It’s a good-size platform with a heck of a lot of experience and expertise.”

“They want to grow the government affairs practice here [in Atlanta] and in Georgia, so hopefully this provides an opportunity for both of us,” he said.

Founding partner John Hall said Clay “brings over great background for our governmental and lobbying practices with a broad range of experience outside those areas, as well. He has a state and national reputation that enhances the firm’s reputation.”

Hall Booth, which has about 200 lawyers, has expanded beyond its Georgia base to offices in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Clay is a recipient of the State Bar of Georgia’s Distinguished Public Service Award. He is the board chair of the Aviation Museum and Discovery Center in Marietta, a board member of the Georgia Appleseed Foundation and a member of Kennesaw State University’s board of trustees.

BRIEFLY

Ellen Persons has joined Polsinelli as counsel in the government relations and compliance practice from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. She is working with Brian McEvoy, another former federal prosecutor who is the vice chair of the firm’s government investigations practice, and has just become the managing partner of the Atlanta office, following Nancy Rafuse’s promotion to chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice. Persons had been an assistant U.S. attorney since 2014, working on cases related to the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and FIRREA. She was previously a senior associate at Alston & Bird.

Alan Clarke has joined Taylor English Duma as a partner from his own shop, The Entertainment Law Group, Alan S. Clarke & Associates. Clarke has represented recording artists, record labels, performers, athletes, producers and writers. He is a former chair of the Georgia bar’s entertainment and sports law section and a member of The Recording Academy and The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

After 23 years with SunTrust Banks Inc., Bill Mayfield has joined Dentons as senior counsel in the firm’s corporate practice. Mayfield was deputy general counsel at SunTrust, where he oversaw syndicated loan activities of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, leasing activities for SunTrust Equipment Finance & Leasing Corp. and the bank’s restructuring and workout activities.

Amie Benedetto has joined Alston & Bird’s real estate finance and investment group as counsel from Proprium Capital Partners, a real estate investment company where she was senior counsel. Benedetto has also been an executive director in the legal and compliance division at Morgan Stanley, where she was general counsel for its real estate special situations fund.

Savannah firm Bouhan Falligant has hired Ashely Henson as an associate. Henson clerked for  U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia after earning a J.D. from the University of Georgia in 2015.

Judge Janis Gordon of the DeKalb County State Court received the Ogden Doremus-Kent Lawrence Award for Judicial Excellence from the Council of State Court Judges at its fall conference last week at the King & Prince Golf and Beach Resort on St. Simons Island.

The National Association of Women Judges recognized Linda Klein, the immediate past president of the American Bar Association and senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, with its Florence K. Murray Award, given to a nonjudge who has advanced opportunities for women in the legal profession. Klein was also honored by The Veterans Consortium at its annual Pro Bono Mission Partner Awards in Washington this month. The group invited Klein to serve as co-counsel on its milestone 5,000 appellate case, now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, for her efforts to improve access to justice for veterans—Klein’s key initiative during her term as ABA president.