Super Fascinating Lawyers
Our profiler in residence on the people he’s met
Published in 2023 Georgia Super Lawyers magazine
By Jerry Grillo on February 6, 2023
There are tons of lawyer jokes out there, and this is one of them: What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? Accountants know they’re boring.
Seventeen years ago, that joke almost made me turn down the chance to write for this publication. Writing about lawyers? It sounded rather dull. However, loving a good challenge, and needing a paycheck, I took the gig. Then I kept returning, year after year.
And I haven’t met a boring lawyer yet.
My first feature was on a Holland & Knight employment lawyer, who, as a state senator, had recently given an emotional speech and organized a walkout when the Republican-dominated Senate passed a bill decreasing the number of allowable forms of polling place ID. A few years later, that attorney, M. Kasim Reed, became mayor of Atlanta.
Before becoming a top-notch Atlanta trial lawyer, Bernard Taylor was an undercover narcotics cop in Detroit who arrested drug kingpins and corrupt cops, and who knew what it felt like to have the cold steel of a revolver pressed against his temple. “When I look back, it plays like a movie,” the soft-spoken Taylor said. “I find it hard to believe that I actually lived that life.”
I profiled former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who countered her no-nonsense public persona with commentary about loving vintage clothing “and high tea at the Ritz.” I got to meet civil rights attorney L. Chris Stewart, who has represented the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks, and is a leading legal voice in the national debate over police brutality. In 2007, I wrote about Phaedra Parks, an entertainment lawyer who, with seven seasons on The Real Housewives of Atlanta (and other appearances in the sprawling Real Housewives universe), has become a bigger celebrity than many of her clients.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize the best lawyer jokes are the self-deprecating ones they tell about themselves.
In 2021, I wrote about criminal defense attorney Don Samuel, who recalled his first criminal case, with a D.A. telling him, “We’re going to take your client in for arraignment this morning.” Young Samuel nodded his approval then quietly excused himself. “I called my office,” he said, “and asked, ‘What the hell is an arraignment?’”
Happy anniversary, everyone.
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