A key partner today at one of Atlanta's top firms dedicated to divorce law, Gary Graham has emerged in recent years as a skilled and effective family-law attorney. For one thing, he's already an experienced litigator and an excellent manager of complex cases, peers say, and, at 42, he's just entering his professional prime, part of a new generation of talented lawyers in the region. He was named, in 2010, a partner of nine-lawyer Stern Edlin, whose founders have worked for decades at the top of Atlanta divorce law. One of Graham's recent cases established new state precedent for valuing privately held businesses in divorce. For his achievements Graham remains surprisingly easy-going, with a wry humor, unflappable even; they are traits that of course contribute to his effectiveness as a divorce lawyer today. Many of his clients are the so-called dependent spouse, those often facing the toughest challenges in divorce. Graham says he takes a lot of satisfaction serving as his clients' "transformation manager, helping my client get to a new place in his or her life." And he's a close to a natural fit for that role.
Graham conveys a sense of honor and buttoned-up probity not far removed from his early years growing up on the campus of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY, where his father taught constitutional law and worked as a Judge Advocate General attorney ("Lot of lawyers in our family, and a true military tradition."); his family moved to Northern Virginia and, in the late 1980s, to Powder Springs, near Marietta, GA, where he attended McEachern High School. Graham ran track and played basketball in high school, but mostly "I was pretty skilled at finding a good time." His affability carried over to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, where midway through he told his father he was considering law school. "My dad just laughed. ‘Do you expect any law school to consider you with those grades?' he asked." Thus Graham made a choice: "I toned down the social life and actually buckled down." He attended Mississippi College School of Law and later took more law courses at Georgia State in Atlanta. He says he "really just fell into family law" in large part because he worked, even before passing the bar, for a small Atlanta husband-and-wife practice that focused on divorce cases. "Truth is I came to love it. It was a direct and personal, nothing abstract about the work." Only one year removed from law school, in 2000, Graham sat across from the respected George Stern on a high-profile case; after they settled Stern offered Graham a job. (Stern, the firm's founder, passed away in 2014.)
Since joining Stern Edlin, Graham has built his own identity, and certainly his own practice, in a firm known for its strong personalities, founding partner Shiel Edlin among them. "All of us work together," Graham says. "And we rely on each others' expertise, but at the end of the day we originate and handle our own cases." Graham also has a growing role in professional law circles: He's Immediate Past Chair of the Atlanta Bar's Family Law section, and has held several other key positions in recent years. Clients will find Graham a steadying influence in their cases, a lawyer who often retains other experts to address specific needs. "I wouldn't exactly use the phrase ‘Holistic approach,' but we are thorough and work to identify where the source of a problem is."
Away from the office Graham enjoys coaching his daughters' basketball teams, and watching them excel at soccer. His wife Susan works for Delta Airlines.