Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson plans to practice law again when her second term ends early next year. But she said the move will not impact future political considerations.
Hall Booth Smith, P.C., which has six offices across the South, announced Tuesday morning that Tomlinson, 53, will join its firm as a partner specializing in complex litigation, crisis management and strategic solutions. She will work out of the Atlanta and Columbus offices when her mayoral term ends.
“I miss the courtroom and I miss litigation,” Tomlinson said this week. “I love it and want the opportunity to get back into it.”
Prior to her time as mayor, Tomlinson practiced law for 16-years with Pope, McGlamry in its Atlanta and Columbus offices, leaving the practice in 2007 to become the executive director of MidTown Inc., a nonprofit entity that focused on redevelopment in Columbus.
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She rode her work with MidTown Inc. into a run for mayor in 2010, winning a contested race that included Councilor Wayne Anthony and Zeph Baker, who had run unsuccessfully for the state House previously. She beat Baker in a runoff and then won re-election in 2014 by defeating former Chamber of Commerce executive Colin Martin.
Though the mayor of Columbus is elected in a non-partisan election, Tomlinson has worked hard for a number of Democratic candidates in the recent election cycle, including gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Tomlinson, 53 and an Atlanta native, has been exploring a possible run for U.S. Senate in 2020 against Republican incumbent David Perdue.
“I chose to join Hall Booth Smith because they have a deep commitment to public service,” Tomlinson said. “The firm is supportive of my pursuing future public service should that opportunity present itself.”
The leadership at Hall Booth understands her interest in another political office and has been supportive during the employment talks, she said. Hall Booth Smith Chairman and co-founder John Hall said the growing firm, which now has more than 200 attorneys, is personality-driven and Tomlinson is a perfect fit.
“We don’t have any hesitation about her political future,” Hall said.
Tomlinson brings a strong legal background that has been enhanced by her time as the city’s top executive, Hall said.
“Teresa is an amazingly talented attorney and strategic thinker who will play a key leadership role in the firm, and help set the agenda for the future of the firm,” Hall said. “Her sharp mind and legal acumen will enhance our service to clients locally and nationally, and most importantly, her sterling character and passion for servant leadership align with the values that make HBS what it is today.”
Tomlinson has become a frequent guest contributor on political and legal matters for media outlets, such as Georgia Public Broadcasting; MSNBC’s AM Joy Show; and The Daily Beast. She will continue to make those appearances, she said.
Tonlinson leaves office on Jan. 7 and will succeeded by Mayor-elect Skip Henderson, who spent 20 years on council before running for mayor. He won a five-way race in May without a runoff.
Hall Booth Smith’s second largest office in Columbus, where it has more than 20 attorneys. The firm was established in 1989 and now has six regional offices located throughout Georgia, as well as offices in Birmingham, Ala.; Charleston, S.C.; Asheville and Charlotte in North Carolina; Jacksonville, North Palm Beach and Tallahassee in Florida; and Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.