Leah Ward Sears joined Schiff Hardin in 2009 after retiring as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Her experience on the bench provides her a unique and valuable perspective on general and appellate litigation matters. She sets herself apart through a steadfast dedication to her work and an impressive array of professional achievements.
Ms. Sears was the first African-American woman to hold a position on the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia. In 1992, she was appointed to Georgia’s Supreme Court, making her the first woman and youngest person ever to sit on that court. Ms. Sears was also the first woman to win a contested statewide election in Georgia, when she retained her seat on the state’s Supreme Court. In 2005, Ms. Sears was sworn in as Chief Justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court. “I broke through many glass ceilings that were barriers to women and minorities,” she says.
Ms. Sears also surprised many when she retired from the bench to return to private practice at Schiff Hardin. Ms. Sears is not afraid to challenge the norm, and as a result, she has honed an innovative yet judicious approach to legal strategy.
As a jurist, Ms. Sears developed a reputation for being a creative problem-solver while also valuing clarity and brevity. She provides a fresh look at a case after it’s been tried and presents it in a new way to a court she understands.
“My main goal is to systematically solve my client’s problems with as much success as possible,” she says.
Ms. Sears also applies her capabilities to a formative and budding practice in Africa. She is working to develop strategic alliances with businesses in South Africa and other parts of the continent in order to expand her reach and help a wider range of clients in their legal matters.
A Trusted Adviser
As a result of her illustrious career, Ms. Sears has become a dependable counselor for a variety of legal issues. Her deep roots in Georgia provide her with valuable insight into the legal landscape of the region. Private and public entities reach out to her for legal counsel, especially in high-stakes investigations and other sensitive matters. Her experience with appellate work positions her as an ideal adviser when complex issues are involved and a creative strategy is needed.