- Post 23 May 2013
- By Maurquis Davis, Special to ADW
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The first time L. Chris Stewart stood in front of his peers in Southwest Atlanta prepared to speak, words stuck in his throat. He had a story to tell, but nothing came out. Not a stutter. Not a whisper. He was mortified. He was 10 years old. And, it was the last time that would happen.
He would grow up eventually to become one of Atlanta's most eloquent and successful African-American lawyers. And, he has recently reached a new height with the opening of his firm Stewart, Seay & Felton (www.ssfjustice.com) law offices in downtown Atlanta.
Stewart has achieved many accolades in his career including The Nation's Best Advocates "40 Under 40" and recognition from Super Lawyers for the years 2011 through 2013. But, in his youth, his was an unending battle to overcome shyness and cultivate a smooth and articulate social style.
He credits a transfer in high school to the The Lovett School for helping with that battle and leading him to his life's work. "This is where I learned how to interact with others not like me while cultivating my life skills."
He attended undergraduate school at Xavier University in Louisiana where he became determined to help communities through public service. Following graduation from Xavier, he attended grad school at Tulane University in pursuit of his dream job. During this time, Stewart was part of an EPA Taskforce that would go into local towns testing the contents of the sewage and look for the presence of air pollution, amongst other things. While working for the doing this work Stewart decided that he would best serve the community by becoming a lawyer.
This way he could not only recognize issues in the community, but he could get justice through the legal system. He had found his voice.
Stewart graduated from Howard University Law School and left his learning disabilities from youth far behind. At Howard University, he was part of a National Championship mock trial team. Shortly after that, he caught the eye of the comedian Bill Cosby and began travelling with him to speaking engagements. Along with Cosby, Stewart looks up to Florida attorney Willie Gary whom he credits with showing him what it's like to be a trial lawyer.
No other person may have had as big of an effect on Stewart's adult life as Attorney Keenan S. Nix. Nix, along with Chris Graddock offered Chris Stewart his first job after he passed the Bar Exam. Usually the firm of Nix & Graddock wouldn't hire such a young attorney but by then Stewart had developed the "gift of gab" and talked his way into a position.
Eventually Nix, Graddock & Stewart Florida based law firm, Morgan & Morgan (www.forthepeople.com) bought the firm of Nix & Graddock. There, he would become one of the most successful personal injury lawyers in Atlanta. In 2009, L. Chris Stewart became Partner in the Morgan & Morgan Atlanta law office.
Over the years Stewart has represented more 2500 individuals, taken 500 depositions and tried over 25 cases. In his new firm, Stewart specializes in premises liability, sexual assault, child abuse and catastrophic personal injuries. As the former President of The Gates City Bar Association, Stewart knows what it takes to lead.
(Photo: Pictured here, from left, are Stewart, Seay & Felton law firm members Cheryl Henderson, Katrena Herrin, Eugene Felton, L. Chris Stewart, Richionda Scales, Rochelle Jones, Quinton Seay, and Keisha Owens.)