Justice Leah Ward Sears
Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP
1230 Peachtree Street, NE #3100
Atlanta, GA 30309-3592
Type of Case: Civil and Criminal
Admitted to practice:
2nd Circuit, 7th Circuit, 11th Circuit
Leah Ward Sears is a Partner in the Litigation Section of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.
As a retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Ms. Sears draws on her background as a former jurist and elected official to bring a unique combination of skills and outstanding value to her clients. Among her many roles, she is an appellate lawyer, oral advocate and strategist, in addition to often serving as a neutral in arbitration proceedings and mediations. Ms. Sears also devotes much of her time assisting managers and institutions facing misconduct allegations, especially sexual, racial and other forms of bias claims, prepare and respond, minimize legal exposure, and protect their reputations.
As an appellate lawyer since returning to private practice in 2009, Ms. Sears prosecutes appeals in both the state and federal courts of the United States. She also consults with other lawyers on trial and appellate briefs and presides over mock arguments to offer insights as to how appellate jurists will react. She is particularly adept at crafting arguments that are clear, compelling, and convincing. In addition, her approach to the practice of appellate law has often included strategic involvement long before the appeals process begins. Clients retain Ms. Sears not only for her excellence in oral advocacy and post-verdict briefing, but also to work closely with trial counsel to develop and execute pretrial and trial strategy, build evidence, and optimize the positioning of a case for trial and appeal.
Ms. Sears was twice on the President’s shortlist for appointment to the United States Supreme Court. She has consistently been on the list of Georgia Super Lawyers, a distinction for Georgia’s pre-eminent attorneys who attain a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Ms. Sears is also a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an invitation only organization whose membership is limited to 500 lawyers and is open exclusively to persons “who possesses a reputation of recognized distinction as an appellate lawyer.”
Additionally, Ms. Sears contributes her many talents to the community. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Emory University, The Carter Center, the Oakland Cemetery Foundation, the Georgia Historical Society, and the Boy Scouts of America (Atlanta Area Council). She previously served on the Boards of Director of such organizations as the Woodruff Arts Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Sadie G. Mays Nursing Home, the Georgia Chapter of the National Council of Christians and Jews, the Advisory Board for the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Cornell University Council, the Board of Visitors of Mercer University Law School and the Emory University Law School Council. Ms. Sears has also taught courses on pretrial litigation as an adjunct professor at Emory Law School and also a course at the University of Georgia Law School.
Ms. Sears received her B.S. degree from Cornell University in 1976 and J.D. from Emory University School of Law in 1980. She earned an advanced degree in Appellate Judicial Studies from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. In 1988, she was elected to the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, the first woman to serve on that court. Four years later she was appointed, and later elected, to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia, the first woman and youngest jurist ever to hold that position. From 2001 to 2005, Ms. Sears was the Presiding Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, and in 2005 she was elevated by her colleagues to Chief Justice, where she served until she retired from the court in 2009. As Chief Justice, Ms. Sears was instrumental in helping to establish the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution of the Administrative Office of the Courts. She also chaired the Judicial Council of Georgia, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Chief Justices.
In recognition of her many accomplishments, Ms. Sears holds honorary degrees from Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Piedmont, LaGrange, Morehouse and Savannah State Colleges and Universities, as well as John Marshall Law School. In addition, she is a recipient of the Emory Medal, the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award, the Daily Report’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as being named one of the 50 Top Innovators, Visionaries, and Legal Leaders in the Law (Fastcase, 2012), to name just a few.
Ms. Sears is admitted to practice in Georgia, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia; and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Sears, Leah Ward Download vCard
CONTACT Leah Ward Sears 404-815-3506 phone 404-684-6806 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
ASSISTANT Beverly Williams 404-815-3500 x53409 email@example.com
LOCATION Atlanta PRINTEMAIL
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