Remembering the Past While Looking to the Future


By Dan Snipes

Once again, fall has been a busy season for the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Between visiting cities for the 2019 Justice Tour, preparing for the 2020 Legislative Session, and growing our membership, there has been little time for reflection. However, on September 30th, we all paused for a moment to reflect on the life of one of the giants in our field: Tommy Malone.

You have undoubtedly seen countless news articles and social media posts from relatives, friends, and admirers honoring the incredible life and exemplary work of Tommy in the past few weeks. From his barrier-breaking work in the segregated South to his last days, he vigorously fought against injustice of any kind, but what set him apart from so many others was his ability to form meaningful relationships.

Tommy was a trailblazer in more ways than one, but our association will forever herald him as a champion for those unable to represent themselves and a warrior for justice. Though I did not have a close relationship with him, I have heard stories of Tommy and other members of GTLA’s “Faithful Fifty” for years. These members understood the importance of our work and dedicated their lives to the preservation of our justice system. In fact, it is thanks to Tommy and his dedicated band of colleagues that we have many of the fundraising and legislative contacts that we still enjoy today.

As we prepare for what will assuredly be the most difficult legislative fight that we have seen since 2005, I want to encourage you to copy the GTLA leaders who came before us. Interpersonal connections were their personal brand of politics, and each of you can take part by doing these simple things.

Reach Out to Your State Legislators

We say this all the time, but there is no connection that we as GTLA staff and leadership can have that will trump a personal relationship that you, a constituent, have with your legislators. In fact, one thing that our opponents fear about our association is our members’ ability to establish and maintain relationships with members of the legislature. If you do not know who your state representative and state senator are, you can look them up by your address at It can be something as simple as asking them out for coffee, speaking to them at church, or talking during your children’s football, baseball, softball or soccer games – whatever you feel comfortable doing. Which leads us to my next point:

Get Involved with GTLA’s Political Giving

The Civil Justice PAC of GTLA is the single largest PAC in the state of Georgia, but we have to be: the 19 following us are all groups aimed at altering the Civil Justice System. PAC contributions allow us to support our allies in the legislature, and supporting our friends financially is one of the most important things we can do as an association. If you are already a PAC contributor, thank you for your help. If you are not, it is easy to get involved! Call Caroline McLean at (770) 314-4257 or email her at today to set it up and make an impact in our political actions.

Our clients look to us to protect them, and we look to the legislature to protect our ability to do that. GTLA has been fighting the good fight for years, and we continue to do just that during the 2020 Legislative Session. What better way to honor the memory of Tommy than to preserve the access to justice that he held so dear. I hope you will join me in this fight. 

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