GTLA Selects its 2017-2018 LEAD Class

By Ryals D. Stone

The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association has announced the selections for the 2017-2018 Leadership Education & Advanced Direction (LEAD) Program. Now beginning its fifth year, the widely-acclaimed LEAD Program serves to train and equip GTLA members who have been identified as potential leaders in the Association with the necessary tools to take the next steps in their legal careers both in and out of the courtroom.

As it has for each of its first five years, the GTLA LEAD Program received over sixty (60) applications this year from qualified GTLA members with less than 10 years of legal practice experience, or those who are 35 years of age or younger. After an extensive application review and selection process, 16 attorneys were chosen by the Selection Committee to participate in the 2017-2018 GTLA LEAD Program. They are as follows:

Alyssa Baskam is an associate attorney with Conley Griggs Partin LLP in Atlanta. Alyssa specializes in the practice areas of product liability, catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death, sexual assault, business or commercial litigation and complex civil litigation. Alyssa is a 2011 graduate of the University of North Carolina and a 2014 graduate of Emory University School of Law. Alyssa previously clerked for the Honorable Steve C. Jones, United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia. Alyssa also serves her community as the Chair of GreenLaw’s Leadership Council, which provides community groups with the legal and technical tools needed to protect their environment and public health.

Daniel “Dan” Beer is an associate attorney at Shiver Hamilton LLC in Atlanta. Dan focuses his law practice on wrongful death and significant personal injury cases, business torts and select construction litigation. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law. During the first four years of his legal career, Dan practiced with a nationally regarded insurance defense trial firm. Prior to law school, Dan worked in the Georgia State Legislature with the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and the Governor’s Legislative Affairs Committee.

Wick Cauthorn is an associate attorney at Morgan & Morgan in Atlanta. An alumnus of both the University of Georgia and the University of Georgia School of Law, Wick specializes in general civil litigation and appellate law. He is admitted to practice in Georgia and New York. He is an active member of the Cobb County Bar Association and serves as a member at-large on the Board of Trustees of the General Practice and Trial Section of the State Bar of Georgia. Wick is on the editorial board of The Atlanta Lawyer magazine and has served the Atlanta Bar as treasurer of the Atlanta Council of Younger Lawyers. Wick also volunteers his time for Legal Aid representing victims of domestic violence petitioning for legal protection from their abusers.

Joseph Colwell is an associate at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP in Columbus. Joseph handles a variety of personal injury cases involving motor vehicle and trucking accidents, automobile defects and other product liability cases, qui tam cases under the Federal False Claims Act, and other types of cases resulting in personal injury, wrongful death, or financial harm. Joseph graduated cum laude from Mercer University in Macon and magna cum laude from Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law. Joseph is admitted to practice in Georgia and is an active member of the Columbus Trial Lawyers Association, the Columbus American Inn of Court, and the Columbus Bar Association. He is also a member of the American Association for Justice, American Bar Association, and the Georgia Bar Association.

Leslie Cushner is a family law attorney at Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh & Hodgin, LLC in Statesboro, specializing in cases involving divorce, legitimation, paternity, child custody, child support, adoptions, mediation, property division, and prenuptial agreements, while also handling criminal and personal injury matters. Leslie graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University in Washington, D.C in 2007, and she is a 2010 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law. In 2014, Leslie was named among the Statesboro Herald’s “Top 20 Under 40.” Leslie currently serves as the President of the Bulloch County Bar Association and volunteers her time to assisting several worthy Pro Bono activities and organizations, including the Safe Haven Domestic Violence Center and the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation’s Domestic Violence Project. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) for the Ogeechee Circuit.

Seth Eisenberg is the founder of The Eisenberg Firm LLC in Atlanta. He specializes in personal injury and government liability law at the trial and appellate levels. After graduating from Emory University and later from the Georgia State University College of Law, Seth first worked for an insurance defense firm and later as a Senior Attorney for the City of Atlanta Department of Law. Seth is admitted to practice law in the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Georgia, the U.S. Northern District of Georgia, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Seth also serves his local community as a Board Member of the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization, Inc.

Stephen Fowler is the managing attorney at The Fowler Firm LLC in Atlanta. Stephen specializes in personal injury, workers’ compensation and wrongful death cases. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Miami. He later attended the University of Georgia School of Law, where he earned both his law degree and MBA. Stephen has been named among the “Top 40 under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers, the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and The National Black Trial Lawyers organizations. He is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia, the American Association for Justice, Lumpkin Inn of Court (Barrister) and the Gate City Bar Association.

Patrick Garrard is a shareholder attorney at Blasingame, Birch, Garrard & Ashley PC in Athens, where he represents individuals injured in catastrophic accidents and by defective products. Specifically, his areas of practice include mass torts, personal injury, product liability, premises liability and pharmaceutical antitrust litigation. Patrick was part of the BBGA litigation team in the historic Transvaginal Mesh Multi-District Litigation, one of the largest MDL’s in U.S. history. Patrick graduated magna cum laude from both Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia School of Law. After law school, he clerked under the Honorable B. Avant Edenfield in the Southern District of Georgia. Patrick is also dedicated to community service, serving on numerous boards including Prevent Child Abuse Athens, Athensmade and the UGA Law School Association Council.

Kurt Kastorf is an attorney with the Summerville Firm in Atlanta, where he specializes in appellate litigation. Kurt previously spent nearly a decade working in Washington, D.C. as an appellate litigator at the U.S. Department of Justice and in the private sector. Kurt is a 2006 graduate of the Emory University School of Law; He is also a National Trial Advocacy College alumnus and has taught trial and appellate practice at both the Kessler-Edison Program for Trial Techniques and the National Advocacy Center. Licensed to practice in both Georgia and the District of Columbia; the many appellate courts to which Kurt is admitted to practice include the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Kurt is a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court and currently serves on the Emory Law Alumni Board and the Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Project Advisory Board.

Alicia Mack is the founding partner of The Mack Law Firm, LLC in Atlanta. She represents injured plaintiffs in worker’s compensation and personal injury matters involving premises liability, motor vehicle & trucking accidents and nursing home negligence. Alicia attended Washington University in St. Louis and is a Georgia State University College of Law graduate. In March 2016, Alicia was one of only eight Georgia lawyers selected to participate in the inaugural class of Georgia’s new Lawyers for Equal Justice (L4EJ). The program is comprised of young lawyers with a passion for helping the poor through the provision of free or low-cost legal aid. Alicia is an active member of the Georgia Association for Woman Lawyers and the Gate City Bar Association. She also coaches the Roswell High School Mock Trial team and currently serves on the Board of Directors for “Beauty in Me,” a charity that focuses on mentoring young girls.

Makenzie “Mak” McAllister is the managing member attorney at Bross, McAllister & Williams LLC in Suwanee specializing in personal injury claims on behalf of injured plaintiffs. Mak received his bachelor’s degree in political science magna cum laude from Piedmont College and his juris doctorate from Emory University School of Law. For his first two years of college he played baseball for Shorter College and then Piedmont College in Demorest. While studying at Emory University’s School of Law, he earned a Transactional Certificate (a certificate certifying his practice readiness in transactional matters). Mak is licensed to practice in the state courts of Georgia and is a member of the Georgia Bar Association. He is also an active member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s Legislative Committee.

Titus Nichols is an Associate trial attorney at Bell & Brigham in Augusta. He regularly defends clients charged with federal criminal offenses in Georgia and South Carolina federal courts while also representing injured plaintiffs in cases involving traumatic brain injury, motor vehicle accidents and civil rights violations. Titus graduated cum laude from Morehouse College and earned his law degree from the University of Georgia. He is admitted to practice in both Georgia and South Carolina trial and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Augusta and currently serves as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the Georgia Army National Guard. He currently provides legal instruction on courtroom testimony for Richmond County law enforcement and is an Adjunct Professor for Augusta University. Titus is a 2013 graduate of the State Bar of Georgia YLD Leadership Academy and a 2017 Leadership Augusta graduate.

Kevin Patrick is the founding partner of Kevin Patrick Law, LLC in Atlanta. Kevin devotes his practice to representing individuals and families in cases involving daycare negligence, wrongful death, and motor automobile accidents. Kevin graduated magna cum laude from UGA and attended law school at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. He is licensed to practice in both Georgia and the District of Columbia and also before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been a leader in the State Bar of Georgia for the past several years, having served on the YLD Board of Directors as the YLD’s Litigation Committee Chair and as the State Bar’s Newsletter Editor. He is also a 2013 graduate of the State Bar of Georgia YLD Leadership Academy. Kevin volunteers at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, and the DeKalb County Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Eric Roden is a Founding Partner of Roden + Love LLC in Savannah, where he specializes in the areas of wrongful death, automobile accidents, nursing home negligence, and Workers’ Compensation law. Eric is an alumnus of both the University of Georgia (graduating Magna Cum Laude) and of the University of Georgia School of Law (cum laude). He is admitted to practice in the Georgia trial courts as well as in the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia. He is also a Registered Mediator with the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution. Eric’s professional and civic involvement includes being an active member of the Savannah Bar Association, the Telfair Museum’s William Jay Society, and the Savannah Chamber of Commerce’s LaunchSAVANNAH project.

Fatima Zeidan is a Managing Partner at The Eichholz Law Firm in Savannah. Fatima practices in the areas of personal injury and civil litigation, handling cases involving automobile accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and abuse, worker’s compensation and pharmaceutical drug claims. A Columbia College alumna, Fatima graduated from the Charleston School of Law in 2010. While in law school, she clerked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda in 2009. She is licensed to practice in both Georgia and South Carolina. Fatima has been named among the “Top 40 under 40 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers Association and among the National Black Lawyers’ “Top 40 under 40.” Fatima has also chaired several local community projects and has served on the Board of Directors for Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence (CODA) in Beaufort South Carolina, a non-profit organization that provides professional services, including safe houses, to victims of domestic violence.

“Each year, the GTLA LEAD Program provides remarkable young attorneys with the opportunity to learn from and engage with some of our state’s best and brightest minds through a series of educational and networking events,” remarked current GTLA President Mike Prieto. “These individuals, who have already proven their leadership acumen with their program acceptance, will undoubtedly serve well as future leaders, not just of GTLA, but of our community and state, and I look forward to working with them during their tenure as LEAD Class members and beyond.”

“As graduates of the GTLA LEAD Program, we are thrilled to give back to the program which provided so many professional opportunities to us by helping the next class of LEADers realize the immense benefits provided to them through the program,” stated LEAD Program Co-Chairs M.J. Blakely and Andy Conn. “This year’s class is one of the most professionally and geographically diverse in program history, with class members hailing from nine separate cities across the state. This diversity serves as a hallmark of the program and speaks to the vitality it will enjoy for years to come. Welcome and congratulations to the 2017 – 2018 LEAD Class!”

About the Author
Ryals D. Stone is a lawyer in the Rome office of the Stone Law Group who represents individual and corporate plaintiffs in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, medical negligence, civil fraud/RICO, as well as commercial and consumer litigation. Ryals currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New Lawyer’s Division of the State Bar of Georgia, as well as the Civil Justice PAC Board of Directors, and is a member of the GTLA Executive Committee. He can be reached at

The 2017-2018 
LEAD Program 
will feature six sessions 
which began on November 17-18, 2017 in 
Athens, Georgia and will conclude with the 
LEAD Class Graduation at the GTLA Annual Convention 
& President’s Gala in Atlanta on April 26-27, 2018.

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