Best of Jackson: Legal | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson: Legal

Photo courtesy Richard Schwartz & Associates

Photo courtesy Richard Schwartz & Associates

During times as tough as these, no one needs the hassle that can come with searching for an appropriate legal counsel for whatever needs we may have. Fortunately, the Best of Jackson Legal pop-up ballot simplifies the hunt by providing a list of some of the best attorneys and law firms the Jackson metro has to offer. Check out this year's winners and finalists below.

Best Personal Injury Attorney; Best Local Law Firm: Richard Schwartz, Richard Schwartz & Associates

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Photo courtesy Richard Schwartz & Associates

(162 E. Amite St., 601-869-0696, 1call.ms)

A lifelong Jackson resident whose firm has been a staple of the metro business scene since 1990, Richard Schwartz is known to many Mississippians by his popular "One Call, That's All!" slogan. "You always want to be known as someone who's there to help someone, so that's why we do the advertising," Schwartz says of his firm's commercial campaign.

Schwartz feels that clients have ready access to the help his offices offer, as there are satellite locations in Tupelo and Hattiesburg. 
 "Every person needs to have a local office so that they can walk into the office and do what's necessary," Schwartz says. "It's very difficult, for instance, to have someone from Tupelo come to Jackson. They can't do that easily."

In addition to managing the largest injury law firm in the state, Schwartz extended his reach outside the walls of his firms, as he served as the assistant city prosecutor for the cities of Jackson and Ridgeland.

"I must have tried thousands of cases during my time in those positions," Schwartz recalls. During his tenure, Schwartz helped create rehabilitation programs for those convicted of crimes like shoplifting and drunk driving. He says that his time in those courtrooms taught him that "everybody needs somebody," an approach that he attempts to apply daily in his law practice. —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Best Personal Injury Attorney

Finalists: Aafram Sellers (Sellers & Associates, 395 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-352-0102) / Darryl Gibbs (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Merrida Coxwell (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Rafael R. Green (Gilmer & Green Legal Group, 748 N. President St., 769-208-8122, gglegalgroup.com) / Rocky Wilkins (Morgan & Morgan, 4450 Old Canton Road, Suite 200, 601-949-3388, forthepeople.com)

Best Local Law Firm

Finalists: Chhabra & Gibbs (120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Coxwell & Associates (500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Gilmer & Green Legal Group (748 N. President St., 769-208-8122, gglegalgroup.com) / Kyle Wynn & Associates (7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Sellers & Associates (395 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-352-0102)

Best Tax Attorney: Ashley Wicks

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Photo courtesy Ashley Wicks

(Butler Snow, 1020 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite, 1400, Ridgeland; 601-948-5711; butlersnow.com)

"When you help a small business owner solve a problem, you're helping people save jobs ... That's important to me," 
Ashley Wicks says. An attorney with Butler Snow, Wicks' practice focuses on public finance, general corporate transactions and taxes.

Although her practice centers around the development of businesses and the resolution of complex tax problems, for Wicks, helping individuals is "the center of everything."

"A lot of the things that I do I do because I want to help people," Wicks says, "I want to help situations improve; I want to help people's circumstances improve."

A native Jacksonian, Wicks received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Jackson State University before earning her juris doctorate from Tulane University. She obtained a master of laws in taxation from the University of Alabama, further enabling her to serve her home city.

Using what she calls "creativity in a legal sense," Wicks evaluates a client's problems by thinking about them in short and long terms. While the problems she helps resolve may be similar, each situation and each client are different. Wicks aims to meet every client's needs with a detailed vision and a passion for service. —Kyle Hamrick

Finalists: Alexis Farmer (Farmer Law, 601-706-9346, afarmerlaw.com) / James McGee (McGee Tax Law, 125 S. Congress St., Suite 1240, 601-965-6155, mcgeetaxlaw.com) / Philip Anthony (Dallas Anthony & Jeffords, 213 Katherine Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3911, dajtaxlaw.com) / Harris "Trip" H. Barnes III (Barnes Law Firm, 5 River Bend Place, Flowood, 601-981-6336, barnes-lawfirm.com)

Best Local Lawyer: Tianna Raby

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Photo courtesy Entergy

(Entergy Mississippi, multiple locations)

Tianna Raby has served in various capacities since coming to Entergy in 2014, working her way up to managing counsel in litigation in 2017 before ascending to her current role as managing counsel in legal regulatory.

Raby brought an array of legal experience from her time at a Jackson-based civil-litigation defense firm, where she worked on cases focused on personal injury, professional and product liability, and toxic tort.

During her time at Forman, Perry, Watkins, Krutz and Tardy, Raby served as co-chair of the company's diversity committee, leading to her 2014 recognition as "Top 40 Under 40" by the Mississippi Business Journal.

Before being admitted to the bar in both Mississippi and Louisiana, Raby earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and a juris doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and she has spent time living abroad.

Outside of her work at Entergy, Raby volunteers with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyer Program, the Magnolia Bar Law Camp and the Jackson Junior League. —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Finalists: R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates, 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Philip Anthony (Dallas Anthony & Jeffords, 213 Katherine Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3911, dajtaxlaw.com) / Richard Schwartz (Richard Schwartz & Associates, 162 E. Amite St., 601-869-0696, 1call.ms) / Rocky Wilkins (Morgan & Morgan, 4450 Old Canton Road, Suite 200, 601-949-3388, forthepeople.com) / Rogen Chhabra (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)

Best Family Law Attorney: RaToya Gilmer

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Photo courtesy RaToya Gilmer

(Gilmer & Green Legal Group, 748 N. President St., 769-208-8122, gglegalgroup.com)

Raised just outside Jackson in 
Edwards, RaToya Gilmer returned to her hometown after her studies at the 
University of Mississippi School of Law. "I call myself homegrown because I'm still living in Edwards," Gilmer quips, but she sees her work in the community as a calling. "The things I wanted to do to restore our community led me to the field of law."

Gilmer was guided into the profession by Precious Martin, for whom she worked prior to attending law school, and after his death, his wife and her mother continued to steer Gilmer into her present work. "I always feel like I can call on her," Gilmer remarks. "But it's taken a village to get me to where I am today."

Some of her present work includes conducting statewide expungement clinics as part of her involvement with the Magnolia Bar Association. "(At the expungement clinics), volunteer lawyers and law students draft paperwork for free. It's ready to be filed, although the client is responsible for filing their own," Gilmer says.

Aiding her community lies at the heart of all she does, as Gilmer says that her eventual goal is to open a community center. "That would be a dream for me," she says. —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Finalists: Mark Chinn (Chinn & Associates, 4316 Old Canton Road, Suite 200-A, 601-202-5594, chinnlaw.com) / Matthew Thompson (Thompson Addison, 745 Avignon Drive, Suite D, Ridgeland; 601-850-8000; bowtielawyer.ms) / Mel Coxwell (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Melissa Malouf (Malouf & Malouf, 501 E. Capitol St., 601-522-2222, malouflaw.com) / Rafael R. Green (Gilmer & Green Legal Group, 748 N. President St., 769-208-8122, gglegalgroup.com) / Teresa Harvey (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)

Best Defense Attorney: Dennis C. Sweet III

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Photo courtesy Sweet & Associates

(Sweet & Associates, 158 E. Pascagoula St., 601-965-8700, sweetandassociates.net)

Dennis C. Sweet III and his siblings grew up in Jackson only a couple houses down from Medgar Evers. "I remember him vividly," he recalled. "Sometimes, he had to pick us up from school."
 It was Evers' assassination that galvanized Sweet to pursue law.

Sweet completed his undergraduate study at Tougaloo College and received his juris doctorate from George Washington University. Upon graduation, he worked as a public defender in Washington, D.C. Four years later, Sweet returned to Jackson and opened a defense practice with his sister, who is now a chancery court judge for Hinds County.

He enjoys the freedom that comes from running his own practice, 
particularly the ability to follow a cause and get involved with "doing something about it," he said. But, as he expressed, he could not do it without the help of his paralegal team or his son, Dennis Sweet IV, who balances him out.

"One of the callings of a true lawyer," Sweet said, "is to represent those people who would otherwise go unrepresented." That calling has motivated Sweet throughout his long career, he said, and his heart is still in representing the people that need it to this day. —Kyle Hamrick

Finalists: Aafram Sellers (Sellers & Associates, 395 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-352-0102) / Angela Trehan (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Chuck Mullins (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Marshall Goff (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)

Best Estate Planning Attorney: Teresa Harvey

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Photo courtesy Chhabra & Gibbs

(Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com)

A 2001 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Teresa Harvey is no stranger to the JFP's Best of Jackson yearly accolades, earning the honor in 2017 and 2018 for family law.

This year, while the Yazoo City native earned a BOJ win in estate planning, Harvey notes that estate planning "still falls under family law."

Another change for Harvey came with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. "My typical day now is mostly answering client calls and emails. I don't think I've had one in-person hearing (since the pandemic began); we've been using teleconferences," she said, observing that the digital platform works similarly as a face-to-face hearing, though she considers teleconferencing is "more efficient."

Harvey believes that her comfort and familiarity with such methods of e-communication is something that distinguishes her from her peers in the legal field.

"My availability is important. I'll call clients at 8 or 9 p.m., if needed. They have constant access (to me). If there's an emergency, I'll call immediately, no matter what." —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Finalists: Elizabeth Wynn (Kyle Wynn & Associates, 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Josiah Burns (Morton Law Firm, 402 E. Main St., Clinton, 601-925-9797, mortonelderlaw.com) / R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates, 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Philip Anthony (Dallas Anthony & Jeffords, 213 Katherine Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3911, dajtaxlaw.com) / Richard Courtney (Courtney Elder Law Associates, 4400 Old Canton Road, 601-987-3000, elderlawms.com)

Best Bankruptcy Attorney: LaToya Jeter

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Photo courtesy LaToya Jeter

(Brown Bass & Jeter, 1755 Leila Drive, Suite 400, 601-487-8448, bbjlawyers.com)

During her time at the University of Mississippi School of Law, LaToya Jeter earned two coveted American Jurisprudence Awards, which she said helped her decide to pursue litigation as her chosen field.

"I realized how much litigation can impact a client and how important it is to truly advocate on behalf of a client," she said of the academic mediations.

In addition to her work in litigation, Jeter collaborates with the Magnolia Bar Law Camp, a three-day youth seminar on the campus of Jackson State University. The Magnolia Bar Association, a coalition created primarily for Black attorneys during a time when many of them were discriminated against, hosts the camp. Jeter said that the goal of the camp is to "give back to disadvantaged youth who haven't had the opportunity to be exposed to the legal profession or to any profession."

Giving back to the Jackson community is important to Jeter, as she herself was born and raised in the metro area. "I left Jackson to go off to college in North Carolina," she recalled. "I came back to my hometown to be with my family and to continue the good work in the community." —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Finalists: Blake Tyler (Gadow Tyler, 511 E. Pearl St., 601-355-0654, gadowtyler.com) / Frank Coxwell (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Rachel Coxwell (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Randall R. Saxton (Saxton Law, 986 Madison Ave., Madison, 601-790-0529, saxton.law)

Best Real Estate Attorney: Kamesha Mumford

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Photo courtesy Kamesha Mumford

(The Mumford Law Firm, 820 North St., 601-398-2347, mumfordlawfirm.com)

Kamesha Mumford's research in the field of real estate has resulted in her status as an expert witness in tax-sale cases.

"I wrote a treaty with Arthur Johnson when he was chancery clerk of Madison County, and there's no other document quite like it," Mumford says.

When she's not in the courtroom or working at the law practice she shares with her husband, Gerald, Mumford serves as the president and legal counsel for "Dress for Success," an organization dedicated to providing business attire and career services for women.

"I first got involved (with the organization) as a law student at Mississippi College," Mumford recalls. "We support women throughout their employment. We help them get a job and then get a better job."

The driving force behind her career and community involvement, Mumford says, is her faith, which is also influential in her treatment of clients. "I understand that a real-estate transaction can be intimidating for people," she says.

To help put nervous clients at ease, Mumford's firm bakes cookies and provides custom closings. "(A closing) is always a memorable experience, but for my clients, I want it to be a good memory," she says. —Taylor McKay Hathorn

Finalists: John Elliott (Elliott Law Firm, 206 Bent Tree Cove, Flowood, 601-362-3479, elliottlawfirmpllc.com) / R. Kelly Kyle (Kyle Wynn & Associates, 7720 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Madison; 601-978-1700; kyle-wynn.com) / Robert Harrison (717 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-0002) / Robert "Bobby" Moorehead (Robert E. Moorehead Attorneys at Law, 220 W. Jackson St., Suite A, Ridgeland; 601-956-4557; lawrem.com) / Steven Nixon (Milner Nixon Law, E. Leake St., Clinton, 601-925-4700, milnernixonlaw.com)

Best Business and Startup Attorney: Philip Anthony

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Photo courtesy Philip Anthony

(Dallas Anthony & Jeffords, 213 Katherine Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3911, dajtaxlaw.com)

Philip Anthony described himself as "surprised and honored" to have been nominated as a Best Business and Startup finalist, accrediting the honor to his dedication toward giving back to his home city.

"You can't progress in Mississippi without a strong capital city leading the way," Anthony said. Through his practice with Dallas, Anthony and Jeffords, he is committed to "resisting human-capital flight." To be specific, Anthony wants to help businesses start locally and stay local.

Anthony's experience has taught him that starting a business is easier said than done. "There are a lot of things you don't really consider when you go into business ... and it's kind of a scary world," he said.

In addition to helping clients work through the myriad legal issues he covers, Anthony also tries to help them think about and frame their goals. A graduate of Mississippi State University and the Mississippi College School of Law, Anthony just completed his last core class at Villanova University for a master of laws in taxation, and he hopes to enhance the all-encompassing level of service he endeavors to provide.

Focused on "bringing value" to his clients, Anthony wants to be in the corner behind his clients. "That fires me up," he said. —Kyle Hamrick

Finalists: Aafram Sellers (Sellers & Associates, 395 Edgewood Terrace Drive, 601-352-0102) / Darryl Gibbs (Chhabra & Gibbs, 120 N. Congress St., Suite 200, 601-948-8005, cglawms.com) / Merrida Coxwell (Coxwell & Associates, 500 N. State St., 601-948-1600, coxwelllaw.com) / Rafael R. Green (Gilmer & Green Legal Group, 748 N. President St., 769-208-8122, gglegalgroup.com) / Rocky Wilkins (Morgan & Morgan, 4450 Old Canton Road, Suite 200, 601-949-3388, forthepeople.com)

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