Apr 14, 2021

SGR Partner Justice Leah Ward Sears Honored with 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League at the 24th Annual ADL Jurisprudence Awards

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ATLANTA (April 14, 2021) – Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP (SGR) is pleased to announce that Partner Justice Leah Ward Sears (Ret.) has been honored with the Anti-Defamation League Southeast’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award given during the virtual 24th Annual ADL Jurisprudence Awards on April 13, 2021. The award, which honors her lifetime devotion to the pursuit of justice and the well-being of the community, was presented to Justice Sears by fellow SGR Partner Arthur “Jay” Schwartz as part of the 2021 Jurisprudence Luncheon virtual ceremony. Additional ADL Jurisprudence Awards honorees included Walter Jospin, who received the Elbert P. Tuttle Award, along with Ana Maria Martinez and Scott Zweigel, who both received the Emerging Leader Award.

A retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Justice Sears is a partner in SGR’s Litigation Practice and serves on the firm’s executive committee. Since returning to private practice, Justice Sears has concentrated on prosecuting appeals in both the state and federal courts in jurisdictions across the United States. She is also a trusted advisor to executives and institutions that face misconduct allegations including sexual harassment and other claims of bias, where she works to prepare and respond to claims, develop strategies to minimize legal exposure, and move swiftly to protect their reputations. Justice Sears defends businesses in a wide range of product liability, business torts, medical malpractice, employment, contract and other commercial disputes.

Due to her distinguished career and continued involvement in the community, Justice Sears has been honored with numerous awards within the legal profession and from local organizations and regularly serves on various committees and boards. In March, Justice Sears was appointed Chair of the Federal Nominations Advisory Committee for Georgia, and in early 2021, she began serving a full term as Outside General Counsel to MARTA. In 2019, Justice Sears was appointed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to chair the City of Atlanta Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust to explore ways to improve integrity, accountability and transparency in city government.

Justice Sears was the first woman and youngest person to sit on Georgia’s Supreme Court when she was appointed in 1992 and the first woman to hold a position on the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia. She was twice on the President’s shortlist for appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Justice Sears retired from the bench in 2005 and returned to private practice in 2009.

About ADL
ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion, and ADL is always the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate vision is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or intolerance. ADL’s Southeast Regional Office (ADL Southeast), based in Atlanta, serves Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. For more information, visit

About Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP
SGR is a full service, international law firm that advises regional, national and global businesses on a wide range of legal matters. The firm’s 250 attorneys provide legal counsel in more than 45 specialized practice areas, including corporate transactions, litigation, intellectual property, aviation, banking, real estate, construction, employment law, and employee benefits and executive compensation. Founded in 1893, SGR has offices in Atlanta, Austin, Jacksonville, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, New York, Southampton, and Washington, D.C.

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