Top Attorneys

By: Lisa Kinchen & Denese Rodgers

The 2017 Top Attorneys are a group of elite lawyers who practice law with their eyes trained on excellence and service. Each person profiled herein is accomplished, experienced, and highly decorated. From exemplary service in the armed forces, outstanding professional accolades, amazing community engagement, and leadership within the profession; these attorneys exemplify commitment and dedication to client service.

Each attorney has garnered the respect of his/her colleagues – an admirable feat within such an esteemed profession. And each attorney has shown a commitment to professional achievement, not only by the awards bestowed upon them by professional and civic organizations (of which there were many), but also in the number of clients served and the successful results obtained on those clients’ behalf. Even with all the work that these attorneys clearly have on their plates and their family obligations, they still make time for service.

Each attorney is engaged in meaningful civic engagement, serving in roles that help and serve others. The service includes programs for music scholarships, mock trial training, domestic violence support, and clothing the less fortunate. This service at first glance has nothing to do with law, but in actuality has everything to do with law. Lawyers are members of the community, just like everyone else. They practice law and empathize with clients based on their interactions with the members of the communities in which they live and serve. The fact that the SJM Top 2016 attorneys know and understand make them the preeminent choice to represent one’s interests in any matter. Why? Because the most powerful advocate is one who understands where you come from and where you are trying to go. What better person to do that than your fellow community volunteer?
Enjoy the profiles of these extraordinary people, and consider them when you need legal representation.

Emmett Arnold

Having lived in Atlanta’s Southern Crescent for over 55 years, Emmett Arnold knows the area like the back of his hand. His Father, the late Judge Emmett J. Arnold III, began practicing law in Jonesboro in 1968 and Emmett has continued his Father’s tradition of assisting people with their legal problems. Emmett has practiced law for 29 years and handled hundreds of family law cases, including divorce, custody, support, adoption, and bankruptcy. Emmett also assists with the administration of the estates of the deceased, frequently appointed by Probate Courts state-wide as an Administrator of estates as well as the Conservator of the property of minors and incapacitated adults. In all of these matters, Emmett knows that experience counts more than anything else.

Deeply committed to community service, Emmett has been involved in the Boy Scouts of America for over 24 years, serving on the Executive Board of the Atlanta Area Council BSA, District Chairman, Troop Chairman, Assistant Scoutmaster and Cubmaster. He has mentored 38 Eagle Scouts from his Troop, including his son, and received Scouting’s Award of Merit for his contributions. He currently serves on the District Eagle Board of Review. Emmett has served many years on the governing board of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity and also served for several years as the Chairman of the Board of the local housing authority.

Emmett is also very active in the legal community. He serves on the Board of the Pro Bono Project, which provides free legal services to those in need. He is a member of the Lawyer’s Foundation of Georgia, The Lawyer’s Club of Atlanta, and served as President of the Bar Association, earning the Excellence in Bar Leadership Award. Emmett also has volunteered with the high school Mock Trial competition for the past 28 years.

Practicing in one of the most beautiful law offices in Henry County, Emmett has provided legal representation of the highest quality for 29 years in the community. Whatever your family legal problem, he will provide very effective legal counsel with a personal touch. As he often tells his clients: “There is no substitute for experience.”

For more information or to schedule a consultation:
Law Office of Emmett J. Arnold, P.C.
LawSouth Building
30 Woodruff Street
McDonough, GA 30253

Elizabeth O’Neal

Attorney Elizabeth P. O’Neal, a Griffin Georgia native, graduated from Griffin High School prior to attending Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia where she earned her B.S. in Psychology. Elizabeth attended Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law where she earned a Juris Doctor degree and a certificate in Advanced Legal Writing, Research and Drafting in 2011.

Elizabeth was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2011 and began as an associate with Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC. Elizabeth is an active member of the Henry County Bar Association, having served on the Board since 2012 and most recently as Past-President in 2016. She serves on the Executive Committee for the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, and is co-chair for the YLD Leadership Academy. In 2016 Elizabeth received the Award of Achievement for Outstanding Service to the Public for co-chairing the YLD Signature Fundraiser which raised over $130,000 for Camp Lakeside, a YMCA camp for children with special needs and disabilities. In addition to her involvement with the YLD, she also serves on the Finance Committee for the State Bar of Georgia. She has served as Chairperson for the Henry County United Way Campaign (2014-2015), and currently serves on the Campaign Committee for the Butts County United Way. Elizabeth is a member of the Jackson-Butts County Rotary Club and she is active in the Morning Glory Garden Club in Griffin where she lives with her husband, John.
Mrs. O’Neal specializes in the following areas of law:
● Adoption
● Divorce
● Juvenile Law
● Family Law
● General Civil Litigation
● Personal Injury
● Probate

When asked about her work, she explains, “I enjoy practicing law because it affords me the opportunity to help people through difficult or stressful times, and even when the outcome will be happy (such as with an adoption), the legal process can still be confusing and intimidating.”

Elizabeth P. O’Neal
Attorney at Law
117 Brookwood Avenue
Jackson, GA 30233
Office: 770-775-3188
Fax: 770-775-1977

Christopher Chapman

Christopher Chapman, a native of Jonesboro, Georgia, graduated with honors from the Citadel with a Bachelor of Science degree. He started his career in law enforcement, which led him to law school at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2000 and later established a law practice as a sole practitioner until joining Smith, Welch, Webb & White in 2011.

Prior to his admission to the bar, Chris spent six years in law enforcement. His experience included training and service in the DUI Task Force/ Heat Unit, Serious Accident Investigations and Special Operations. Chris also has the experience of being a former prosecutor in Henry County State Court, a Magistrate Court Judge for Henry County, a Municipal Court Judge for the multiple jurisdictions, including McDonough and Stockbridge. He is currently serving at the Associate Judge for Riverdale and is a 6th District Representative and a member of the Executive Council of the Council of Municipal Judges.

Chris is a member of the State Bars of Georgia and Kentucky and the District of Columbia Bar and he has been admitted to all levels of state and federal court. Chris is a Past President of the Henry County Bar Association and a member the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and the American Association of Trial Lawyers. Chris is also active in the Atlanta Lawyers Club, and the American College of Equine Attorneys.

In 2016, Chris was chosen as one of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Attorneys selected for this honor are well-respected in the legal field and demonstrate high levels of influence and leadership. In 2015, Chris was awarded “10 BEST” in Georgia for Customer Satisfaction by American Institute of DUI Attorneys.

Christopher specializes in the following areas of law:
● Criminal Defense
● Divorce
● Personal Injury
● Equine Law

Attorney at Law
117 Brookwood Avenue
Jackson, GA 30233
Phone: 770-389-4864
Fax: 770-389-5193

Brandon Palmer

Brandon Palmer grew up in Acworth, Georgia and graduated from East Paulding High School before attending the Georgia Institute of Technology. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Brandon received his Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law in 2015. While at Georgia State, he clerked for Judge Goger of Fulton Superior Court and Judge McMillian of the Georgia Court of Appeals. In his third year, Mr. Palmer interned with the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office and assisted in the prosecution of felony offenses, including a murder trial. He became an associate at Smith, Welch, Webb, and White in 2016.

Outside of the firm, he enjoys attending Georgia Tech Football games. He also sits on the Board of his Fraternity’s Alumni Organization.

Brandon specializes in the following areas of law:
● Eminent Domain / Condemnation
● Local Government
● Real Estate
● General Civil Litigation

Phone: 770-957-3937
Fax: 678-583-4888