VALDOSTA, Ga. – William Pope Langdale III is the first lawyer from Valdosta to be elected president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
The GTLA is an organization that protects the right to trial by jury.
The GTLA "is the only organization that has, at its core, the right to trial by jury and the right to access the courts by citizens,” Langdale said. “And it protests against any erosion of those rights.”
He said juries usually get it right.
Although there are times juries get it wrong or are unfair, the judge is always present as a backstop to alleviate major issues, but “the vast majority of the time the jury gets it right,” Langdale said.
He said no place is better suited to settle a dispute between two residents than the community where they live. Langdale described the jury as “the collective conscious of the community.”
Because he is the first president elected from Valdosta and the GTLA meets in Atlanta, Langdale is aware there will be extra time commitments for the monthly and, sometimes, bi-monthly meetings.
“It's an increased time commitment,” said Langdale. “But it is one I am willing to make.”
The presidency is only one achievement for the Valdosta lawyer.
He has obtained one of the highest personal injury verdicts in South Georgia, one of the highest wrongful death verdicts in South Georgia, one of the largest wrongful death settlements in a routine motor vehicle accident in a rural South Georgia community and one of the largest civil rights verdicts in the state of Georgia, according to his biography.
Langdale also handles complex commercial litigation, often involving disputes in the tens of millions of dollars.
He has litigated cases in numerous states across the country, including Florida, Alabama, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Maryland and New Jersey, according to his biography.
Recently, he successfully defended a client in a business fraud case in Oklahoma, resolving the matter for his client successfully during pre-trial. The case proceeded to trial and the remaining defendant, who was not represented by Langdale, suffered a $50 million verdict, he said.
Langdale received his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his juris doctorate from the University of Georgia, where he served as an editor for the Georgia Law Review
Langdale is actively involved in the State Bar of Georgia, according to his biography. He served on the Board of Governors from 2004 to 2008, and currently serves on the elections committee and lawyer advertising committee. He also serves on the Unlicensed Practice of Law District Two Committee.
Langdale was recently selected by the federal judges in the Middle District of Georgia to serve on the Advisory Rules Committee for the Middle District of Georgia. He is a board member and district representative of the General Practice and Trial Section of the State Bar dedicated to trial practice. He has served as its secretary, treasurer and chairman.
He was honored as being chosen by his peers as a Georgia Rising Star, being among the top up-and-coming lawyers in Georgia under 40 years old.
He has been consistently selected as Georgia Super Lawyer. He is also recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers.
Langdale has been certified as a life member of both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, according to his biography. The forum is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the U.S. The organization was founded in 1993 and is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members.
He is actively involved in the community. He is a prior member of the board of the United Way of Lowndes County, where he served on the executive committee, according to his biography. He served for several years as chairman of allocations, directing where the funds raised by the organization were spent and served as the campaign chairman.
Langdale's wife and three children will attend his inauguration at the the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta at 7 p.m. Friday.
In addition to Langdale's installation as president, it will be GTLA’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.
Jason Smith is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1256.