Stephen M. Forte is the Managing Partner and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.
Mr. Forte’s trial practice and experience is broad based, having been lead counsel in over 200 major adversary proceedings, including jury and bench trials, arbitrations and appeals. Much of his work in recent years has been focused on class action defense and nationwide complex litigation in the representation of financial institutions and clients in the telecommunications and transportation industries. Mr. Forte regularly litigates in state and federal courts throughout the country, and represents major airlines in litigation worldwide.
Mr. Forte has maintained a full-time practice in addition to his leadership responsibilities as Managing Partner and Chairman. In his role as Managing Partner and Chairman, Mr. Forte functions as the Chief Executive Officer of SGR, in charge of its day-to-day operations, while overseeing the strategic growth and direction of the firm. He is also responsible for cultivating strong relationships with firm clients by understanding their business needs and assisting with practice strategies and solutions to fulfill those needs.
Mr. Forte was elected to the firm’s Executive Committee in 1992 and two years later was elected by the partnership as Managing Partner and Chairman of the firm’s Executive Committee. During his tenure as Managing Partner and Chairman, Steve has been instrumental in the opening and continued growth of 9 offices outside the firm’s Atlanta headquarters, including three international offices. During this time, SGR has steadily advanced in the AmLaw 200 and as a most recommended law firm by peers and corporate counsel alike. Steve served in other leadership positions within the firm prior to his election as Managing Partner. He was head of the Litigation Department for two years and chaired the Professional Recruitment Committee. As a visionary leader, he has always been active with the professional development of young attorneys and coaching senior lawyers and partners on client service and practice planning.
With more than 35 years of legal experience, Mr. Forte has maintained an active litigation practice in addition to his leadership responsibilities. Over the course of his career, Mr. Forte’s trial practice has been broad based. Clients have sought his judgment and experience in almost every type of business dispute. He has also functioned as outside general counsel to long-standing firm clients such as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. Much of his trial work has been focused on high stakes class action defense and nationwide complex litigation in the representation of financial institutions and clients in the telecommunications and transportation industries.
Mr. Forte was recognized five consecutive years in Chambers USA as one of the outstanding commercial litigators in the country and was described as a “dynamic trial attorney” by Chambers. He has been selected for more than a decade in Georgia Super Lawyers and consistently noted in Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation. He now serves on the Advisory Board of Best Lawyers. Mr. Forte also serves on the Board of Directors of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Central Atlanta Progress. He is also a frequent lecturer on complex litigation and trends in the legal industry to the American and International Bar Associations.
Mr. Forte is a member of the Board of Directors of Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Lawyers Foundation of Georgia, National Diocesan Attorneys Association, Leadership Atlanta Class of 2004 and the International Bar Association.
Mr. Forte received his B.A. from the City University of New York (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1977 and his J.D. from the Emory University School of Law in 1980.
Board of Trustees of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
Board of Directors, Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
Board, Central Atlanta Progress
National Diocesan Attorneys Association
Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Lawyers Foundation of Georgia
International Bar Association
Best Lawyers Advisory Board
Leadership Atlanta – Class of 2004
Emory University Board of Visitors (2010 – 2012)
“What the Attorney-Client Privilege Really Means”
“The Uses and Forms of ADR in the U.S.”
“The Warsaw Convention in the Electronic Age”