A look at the managing partners (or equivalents) at Alabama’s 20 biggest law firms.
Jeff Grantham (Maynard Cooper & Gale) – Grantham has practiced with Maynard Cooper & Gale since 1989 and now serves as managing shareholder of the firm with more than 300 attorneys. Other leadership roles at the firm have included chief strategy officer, section head of litigation and chairing the firm’s insurance and financial services litigation practice group. Under Grantham’s leadership, the firm has expanded in markets including Los Angeles, Dallas, Nashville and Orlando. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the Vanderbilt University School of Law.
Jonathan M. Skeeters (Bradley) – Skeeters is chairman of the board and managing partner at Bradley. His legal experience includes work with hospital systems, ambulatory surgery centers, diagnostic imaging centers, cancer centers, urgent care centers and home health agencies. His primary focus is on advising publicly traded and privately held companies in the health care industry. Skeeters is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky College of Law and Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.
Ed Christian (Burr & Forman) – Christian is chief executive officer/managing partner for Burr & Forman. He also practices in the firm’s corporate and tax practice group, representing a variety of privately held companies. He has significant experience in the manufacturing industry and regularly represents restaurants and other retail groups handling mergers and acquisitions, employment agreements, franchise agreements and minority investments. Christian is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, the University of Alabama School of Law and the University of Alabama.
M. Stanford Blanton (Balch & Bingham) – Blanton is managing partner and chair of the executive committee at Balch & Bingham. As managing partner, he oversees the strategic direction of the firm’s 11 offices across the Southeast, Texas and Washington, D.C. Blanton is also chair of the firm’s nuclear energy practice, representing electric utility companies, suppliers and nuclear fuel and components, and investors in electric generating facilities. He is a three-time recipient of the Lawyer of the Year award from The Best Lawyers in America. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama (both BS and MBA) and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Jim Vann (Dentons Sirote) – Vann is president, board member and shareholder of Dentons Sirote in Alabama, where he is a member and former chair of the Dentons Sirote real estate practice group. Vann represents banks and other lenders in connection to all types of lending, including commercial, industrial and real estate loans. He also represents developers and owners of multi-family and other commercial real estate. Vann practiced as a CPA before going to law school. He is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Thomas C. Logan (Carr Allison) – Logan serves as managing shareholder of Carr Allison. He is accountable to the board of directors and shareholders and is responsible for all legal and non-legal functions of the firm. In addition, Logan oversees the selection of and integration of new lawyers and key non-legal personnel in the firm. His practice areas are labor and employment. Logan is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Thomas J. Methvin (Beasley Allen) – Methvin has been managing attorney of Beasley Allen since 1998, leading the firm to becoming a national firm in providing legal advice and representation. He is a former president of the Alabama State Bar, where he focused on access to justice and increasing pro bono services for those in need. Methvin, a national spokesman for consumer rights, has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The O’Reilly Factor” and in publications including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Roger L. Bates (Hand Arendall Harrison Sale) – Bates has served as managing lawyer for Hand Arendall Harrison Sale for 11 years and has extensive experience in business and commercial litigation. Bates has served as a specially appointed deputy attorney general in Alabama since 1995 and often represents the state of Alabama and sub-agencies in complex and institutional reform litigation. He is a former city attorney for the City of Hoover and currently is the county attorney for Chilton County. Bates is a graduate of Auburn University and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Jenna Bedsole (Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz) – Bedsole is managing shareholder of Baker Donelson’s Birmingham office. She represents employers in a broad range of employment matters and is former chair of the firm’s labor and employment group. Bedsole often guides employers in drafting and enforcing employment agreements, and she conducts management and employee training relating to employment issues in the workplace. Bedsole is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Jay M. Ezelle (Starnes Davis Florie) – Ezelle has practiced with Starnes since 1999 and is managing partner for the firm, responsible for execution of the firm’s strategy and management of the firm’s operations. He is former chief strategy partner, hiring partner, member of the executive committee and head of the commercial litigation and intellectual property litigation practice groups. Ezelle has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies in a variety of litigation, including national class actions and multidistrict litigation. Ezelle is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Alexander Shunnarah (Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys) – Shunnarah is founder, president and chief executive officer of the firm. Founded in 2001, the firm now spans four states — Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia. Verdicts in his cases have included $5 million in a railroad amputation case, $6.5 million stemming from paralysis after a truck accident, $6.5 million in a wrongful death suit involving an 18-wheeler and others. Shunnarah is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Birmingham School of Law.
Melody Eagan (Lightfoot, Franklin & White) – Eagan is managing partner of Lightfoot, the first woman to hold that position, and is also on the firm’s executive committee. She has decades of experience defending clients in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. She also regularly represents doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice cases. Eagan is a former president of the Alabama Defense Lawyers Association and a member of the 2018 Leadership Alabama class. She is a graduate of Hendrix College and Vanderbilt University Law School.
Allen E. “Teeto” Graham (Phelps Dunbar) – Graham is a partner in Phelps Dunbar’s Mobile office. Graham has experience working with a range of industries, including shipping, vessel construction and operation, contractors, insurance companies, engineering firms, product manufacturers and banks. He has a degree in engineering and a master’s in admiralty and maritime law. Graham is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Tulane University Law School.
Graham Burgess (Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne) – Burgess is president and a member of Lanier Ford’s real estate practice group. Concentrating in commercial lending, real estate lending, secured transactions, loan restructuring and real estate construction and development. Burgess routinely advises clients about the acquisition and disposition of both developed and undeveloped real estate. He also represents commercial landlords and tenants in lease negotiations. Burgess is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Jay H. Clark (Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt) – Clark, managing member of the firm, has for the majority of his legal career represented secured creditors in commercial restructuring, forbearance agreements and foreclosures. In recent years, he has represented and advised homeowner and condominium associations on issues including covenant enforcement and contract revision. Clark is a former CPA. He is a graduate of Harding University and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
Stephen E. Whitehead (Lloyd, Gray, Whitehead & Monroe) – Whitehead has been managing shareholder for Lloyd, Gray, Whitehead & Monroe since 2000. He also leads the firm’s professional liability group and has defended insurance agents, brokers and companies for 25 years. He also has defended professional malpractice claims for attorneys, appraisers, real estate and title agents, third-party administrators and accountants. Whitehead has defended more than 600 cases on behalf of insurance agents and brokers. He is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Thomas H. Keene (Rushton, Stakely, Johnston & Garrett) – Keene began practicing with Rushton Stakely in 1974 and has been president of the firm since 1998. His practice has involved the defense of diverse causes of action including antitrust, business litigation and products liability, as well as the defense of lawyers, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. He is chairman of the president’s cabinet at the University of Alabama. Keene is a graduate of the University of Alabama (BS and MBA) and the University of Alabama School of Law.
Ashley Jones (Wilmer & Lee) – Jones is a shareholder at Wilmer & Lee, where his areas of practice include business and corporate law, estate planning, contracts, probate and taxation. He has practiced law in Huntsville for more than 20 years. Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Alabama School of Law and the New York University School of Law.
Courtney Williams (Capell & Howard) – Williams joined Capell & Howard in 2000 and has served as managing director since 2018. His law practice involves advising companies on all aspects of their business, including employee benefits, mergers and acquisitions, securities and federal, state and local tax matters. Williams is a graduate of Auburn University, the University of Alabama School of Law and New York University.
Guilford F. Thornton Jr. (Adams and Reese) – Thornton has served as managing partner for Adams and Reese since 2015. Previously, he served as legislative counsel to a number of businesses, trade associations and governmental entities with interests before Tennessee state and local government. Prior to law school, Thornton worked in the foreign services as special assistant to the ambassador at the American embassy in Paris. Thornton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Law School.
This story originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Business Alabama magazine.