Compiled by Tess Congo

/ Georgia's Best Lawyers 2017

IN THE HEADLINES

 Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz: Linda A. Klein (arbitration; commercial litigation; construction law; insurance law; litigation – construction; mediation, 2006), president of the American Bar Association, was the keynote speaker at the Georgia Legal Services Program’s third annual Pro Bono Awards luncheon on January 13. Held at the Savannah Marriot Riverfront, the fundraiser served to recognize the work of Savannah lawyers who volunteer to work with low-income clients seeking legal services.

Cook & Connelly: Bobby Lee Cook (criminal defense: general practice, criminal defense: white-collar, 1983) submitted an affidavit in support of Joey Watkins’ writ of habeas corpus. Cook was a former defense attorney for Watkins and was among other former defense attorneys that also submitted supportive affidavits. In 2001, Watkins was convicted of felony murder, aggravated assault, a weapons violation, and misdemeanor stalking in the death of Isaac Dawkins, receiving life plus five years. Watkins is currently aided by the Georgia Innocence Project, and his story is soon to be told as second season on the podcast “Undisclosed.”

Eversheds Sutherland (US): Mark D. Wasserman (corporate law, 2005) was selected for the Atlanta Women’s Foundation Board of Directors. Through strategic grant-making, leadership programs, and community education, the Atlanta Women’s Foundation supports organizations that aid financially vulnerable women and girls in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties.

Fragomen Worldwide: The immigration law firm is partnering with Global Atlanta to provide readers with insight on national and international policy changes that will affect business immigration.

JAMS: Norman S. Fletcher (construction law, 2015) penned an op-ed for The New York Times titled “Georgia’s Dangerous Rush to Execution,” which delved into his experience as a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia for over 15 years. In his time on the court, he bore witness to some of the biggest problems in Georgia’s judicial system, such as people failing to receive legal counsel.

Levine Smith Snider & Wilson: David A. Garfinkel (family law, 2015) is the first Atlanta attorney to join the National Association of Parental Alienation Specialists (NAOPAS), which aims to act as a resource for parents in high-conflict divorce cases who may connect with attorneys and forensic mental health professionals experienced in parental alienation litigation through the organization.

The Linley Jones Firm: Linley Jones (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; professional malpractice law – plaintiffs, 2015), Brookhaven’s District 1 councilwoman, started the Black History event that honors “Lynwood Integrators,” the first black students to attend previously all-white schools in DeKalb County in 1967. This year on Martin Luther King Day, Olympic gold medalist and Lynwood Park alumni Melvin Pender headlined the Black History event, delivering the keynote address at the second annual community dinner.

ON THE MOVE

PRIVATE PRACTICE:

Jones Day: Sterling A. Spainhour, Jr. (mergers and acquisitions law, 2017) has been named senior vice president and general counsel of Southern Company Services after serving as partner at Jones Day’s Atlanta office since 2004. At Southern Company Services, Spainhour will be responsible for day-to-day legal support.

ITN FEATURE

Georgia Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Open Records Law Dispute

Jones Day: E. Kendrick Smith (commercial litigation; litigation and controversy – tax, 2009) is trying to bring to light Northside Hospital’s financial documents and other records.

According to the Albany Herald, Northside Hospital had previously stated that the hospital is not bound by the Georgia Open Records Act, a “sunshine law” purposed to illuminate Georgia residents regarding government agency operations. As a private non- profit corporation, Northside has stated that this law does not apply to it. Smith, with the support of media organizations and the consumer group Georgia Watch, posits that Northside is subject to the open records law because the hospital was created by a public hospital authority (a government entity). Therefore, Northside’s assets belong to the government, and the hospital should be required to release its financial records.

The Georgia Supreme Court’s ultimate decision will have major implications for other Georgia hospital authorities, many of which have—like Northside Hospital in the early 1990s—restructured facilities into separate non-profit corporations over the last 30 years.

In 2013, Smith first requested Northside’s information regarding the hospital’s expenditures in the acquisition of physicians’ practices. Patients of the two practices that were acquired faced higher bills afterward. A partner of Jones Day filed suit, resulting in the case being heard in the Fulton County Superior Court, where a judge ruled in favor of Northside. Smith appealed, and in a split decision, the court of appeals upheld the first ruling. Now the oral arguments in the case are due to be heard by the Georgia Supreme Court in April.