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Persons leaves Burr & Forman for 'old friends' at Strickland
Republican Party stalwart Oscar Persons has left Burr & Forman for litigation boutique Strickland, Brockington Lewis.
"I decided to move over to a small firm with old friends," said Persons, who joined Strickland Brockington Lewis as senior counsel. His first day was Tuesday.
The business litigator joined Burr, a general practice firm based in Birmingham, Ala., four years ago upon retiring from Alston & Bird, where he practiced for 41 years.
"I'm getting a little long in the tooth. I still want to practice law, but not in a big-firm environment," said Persons, who will be 74 in January. "A young 74," he added.
Frank Strickland said he and Persons, the firm's seventh lawyer, have known each other for more than 40 years from their involvement in the Republican Party.
Persons was general counsel to the Republican Party of Georgia for more than two decades. Strickland succeeded him in the role, and now the post is held by his law partner, Anne Lewis.
Persons has worked on numerous Republican campaigns in Georgia over the years, often in a fundraising role. Most recently he was a member of Mitt Romney's Georgia finance team.
"Frank and I have seen the Republican Party grow from where you could get people into a small meeting room in a hotel to where you'd have to have a huge convention hall. It's been very gratifying," said Persons, who joined the Fulton County Young Republicans in 1963 after serving in the Navy. At that time, he recalled, only one member of Congress from Georgia, a handful of state legislators and a couple of aldermen for the city of Atlanta were Republicans.
Strickland said Persons also knows his law partners, Lewis and Peggy Brockington. "We just had a drink one afternoon and the rest was history."
Persons added that as part of their negotiations, he will not be required to wear a bow tie, Strickland's habitual neckwear.
Burr's Atlanta managing partner, Erich Durlacher, said he was sad to see Persons leave and wished him well. "It was a unique opportunity that came up, to practice with old friends."
Persons helped Burr "raise our visibility and brand" in Atlanta in his four years with the firm, Durlacher said. "He helped to get us in front of certain clients and referral sources that otherwise we would not have been a part of. He has many friends here."
Persons said he does not bring any clients to his new firm. "I want to start a new leaf here. There may be some folks who have an interest in what I'm doing now," he said. Persons added that being part of a small firm frees him of the conflict issues that can present obstacles at large firms.
Persons has just wrapped up a case for Scientific Atlanta (now part of Cisco Corp.) that started in 2001. In a putative class action, Rochelle Phillips v. Scientific Atlanta, the plaintiffs sued the maker of set-top cable TV boxes for securities fraud, alleging they bought its stock at artificially inflated prices, which then dropped in 2001 after "corrective disclosures" by the company.
In September, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the federal district court's grant of summary judgment for Scientific Atlanta in an unpublished opinion. Winston & Strawn was Persons' co-counsel on the case.
Persons said it was the longest case he's worked onand the last of a series of suits he defended for the cable-box maker. In another case, Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific Atlanta, his client prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 in what has been called a landmark case for third-party defendants in securities litigation. Investors in Charter Communications alleged that Scientific Atlanta helped the cable company inflate its earnings. Persons made the successful oral argument for Scientific Atlanta at the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
Strickland said Persons' experience handling complex business disputes will be useful to the firm. Strickland Brockington Lewis also handles litigation for education, redistricting, election and regulatory issues. Strickland serves as a court-appointed special master in business litigation, and he and Persons are both certified mediators.
Strickland, Lewis and an associate, Bryan Tyson, recently won a case for the city of Sandy Springs along with the city's attorney, Wendell Willard, at the Eleventh Circuit, as part of an ongoing dispute over how much Sandy Springs must pay the city of Atlanta for water. Atlanta's water costs are high because of sewer upgrades mandated by a federal consent order.
The Eleventh Circuit ruled in November that Sandy Springs can pursue mediation in state court over its water contract with the city of Atlanta, overturning a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash. Thrash, who is overseeing the federal consent order with Atlanta, brought in Sandy Springs and Fulton County as parties in the underlying Clean Water Act Case, along with Atlanta.
The city of Atlanta was represented in the case by attorneys from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter and the city's law department.
Thomas Cox has joined Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith as a partner from Epstein Becker & Green. Cox is an employment lawyer representing management in disputes and regulatory matters. He also handles compliance audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to make sure government contractors follow nondiscrimination laws and regulations.
Roslyn Falk has joined Schiff Hardin as counsel from Andre & Blaustein. Falk is part of Schiff Hardin's private clients, trusts and estates group. She focuses on estate planning and is a certified public accountant.
Andrew Nielsen has joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough as an associate in the firm's corporate practice. Nielsen received his law degree this year from Vanderbilt University Law School.
Jay Latzak has been named a partner at Bryan Cave, one of 14 firmwide. Latzak is a commercial real estate lawyer, practicing in the firm's real estate and banking client service groups.
Georgia State University College of Law is accepting nominations for the 2013 Ben F. Johnson Jr. Public Service Award through Dec. 14. The award recognizes a Georgia attorney for public service in the tradition of Johnson, the founding dean of GSU's law schoolbut nominees are not limited to GSU Law graduates. This year's recipient was Randall Hughes, a health law attorney and longtime Atlanta Legal Aid Society volunteer who started working with the group's Senior Legal Hotline after retiring from private practice in 2008. He also volunteers for Georgia State's Health Law Partnership clinic. Nominations can be made using a form accessible from www.law.gsu.edu.