He seems to embody the image of a country lawyer—sharp, smart and laid back. Stories, one after the other, pour out of his memory as he talks.
Surrounded by things that reveal a lot about him—Bulldog signs, a portrait of Winston Churchill, statues of John Belushi as Animal House’s “Bluto,” family photos, and golf memorabilia-- Steven A. Hathorn says he is what author John Grisham calls a “street lawyer.” That means he handles cases like divorce, bankruptcies, DUIs and accidents.
A trial lawyer, he said, “Having practice law for 33 years, I know there’s no such thing as perfect justice, but I still think we have one of the best systems of law.”
Hathorn believes a jury trial is the last guarantee of civil liberties. “The poorest person who’s being run over still has the right to call a big entity to task by going to the courthouse and filing a complaint.”
The Covington-based lawyer was recognized Friday by the Alcovy Circuit Bar Association for his 16 years on the state bar’s Board of Governors.
In a brief ceremony held between the local bar’s continuing education seminars on professionalism and ethics, Michael Geoffroy of Conyers presented Hathorn with a plaque, saying, “The dedication it takes to go to all those meetings [is appreciated]. Steve has been there and coming back to share what he’s learned.
“Everything that’s been said about professionalism and ethics, Steve embodies,” Geoffroy said.
The Georgia Board of Governors governs the State Bar. Governors as elected by the lawyers in their circuit to serve a two year term. Governors are the voice of the members in the circuit they represent.
Hathorn was elected to the board in 1999, serving from 2000 through 2015.
“Serving the bar was a good way to serve my profession,” he said. “Now it’s time for new blood.”
William Gregory Pope of the Pope Law Firm in Covington has been elected as the new board member.
Pope makes the third person elected to serve Post 1 of the Alcovy Circuit on the Board of Governors since the circuit was formed in the 1970s. The Alcovy Circuit covers Walton and Newton counties.
Born and raised in Sandy Springs, Hathorn attended the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in publication management. He attended Georgia Law School, graduating in early 1982.
While waiting for the results of the bar exam, he went to work as an investigator in the Cobb County District Attorney’s office.
In an odd coincidence, the old Cobb County Courthouse was designed by architect Bruno Introna, an Italian émigré, who would later become Hathorn’s father-in-law.
“It was the first courthouse where I practiced,” he said.
Shortly after getting the bar results and starting working as a misdemeanor solicitor in Cobb County.
And then he got a call from then Alcovy Circuit District Attorney John Strauss II, asking him to come to Covington to work for the DA’s office.
“I’ve been in Covington ever since,” he said. “When I started working here in 1982, there were only three assistant district attorneys for two counties. After serving as a felony solicitor, Hathorn became Chief Assistant DA in 1984 through 1986.
In 1986, he resigned from the Das office and went into private practice, working for Alexander and Royston Law Firm until 1991. He left to open a solo practice, and has worked out of an office on Usher Street since 1992.
During his tenure on the Board of Governors, Hathorn served on committees such as the Investigation, or Disciplinary Panel, a committee of laity and lawyers who investigate complaints against lawyers. Three times he was appointed a special master, sitting as a referee on disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer. The special master makes recommendations, which the Supreme Court acts on, deciding whether to disbar an attorney or not.
Hathorn said he is grateful for the support the local bar showed him electing him eight times. “You have to give back to the community, because you can’t just take from the community.
“When I was sworn in as a lawyer, I was told by the judge that a lawyer who sells his integrity will never earn enough to buy it back,” he said. “I’ve always practiced law with that advice in mind.”
Earlier in the year, Hathorn was honored for his service by the State Bar at its April meeting in Brasstown Valley.
Hathorn has been married to Polly Introna for 33years. The couple lives in Rockdale and has two children, a daughter, Sydney, 26, and a son, Paul, 22.