Savannah CEO: Growth Year for HunterMaclean

By Thressea Boyd, as published in Savannah CEO

Here at Savannah CEO, we noticed an unusual number of awards, events, and attorney announcements from local law firm HunterMaclean in 2015, particularly as the year wrapped up. Fresh from our holiday break, we caught up with managing partner Frank Macgill to find out more.

HunterMaclean was recently recognized as one of the top Georgia law firms for Economic Development by Southern Business & Development magazine. What sets HunterMaclean apart in economic development law?

As a business law firm, our clients include manufacturers, businesses small and large, developers, startups, hospitality providers, shippers, innovators, agriculture and forestry businesses, logistics companies, and many others, all of which are part of the steady economic growth in our region. HunterMaclean attorneys practicing in areas such as commercial real estate, zoning and land use, environmental law, and corporate finance provide a strong support structure for the continued healthy progress of economic development in our region. HunterMaclean lawyers also volunteer their time to serve on the boards of economic development organizations such as Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA), Savannah Development and Renewal Authority (SDRA), Brunswick Downtown Development Authority, and Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation (HHIEDC). HunterMaclean has supported individuals and institutions involved in the growth of economic development in the coastal Georgia region for much of our long history.

HunterMaclean has received several other state-wide recognitions. What are some of the firm’s attributes that position it above other firms within Georgia?

Two aspects of HunterMaclean that make it unique are the breadth of practices that our attorneys offer and the depth of their experience in each of those areas. It is rare for a law firm outside of Atlanta to have such experienced attorneys practicing in many areas of law important to growing businesses and to the individuals who found and run them.

In addition to the recognitions the firm received, several attorneys received individual recognitions. How does the firm encourage and support its attorneys to excel?

HunterMaclean firm culture is client-centric. The firm provides an environment that makes our work efficient, including research resources, ongoing education and training for our staff, and a strong IT department that supports our internal processes and client communications. Additionally, having such a depth of expertise in the firm allows our attorneys to draw on the experience of their colleagues. The firm supports continuing legal education and professional development, but each attorney’s strength ultimately lies in the application of his or her skills to solving clients’ legal problems. HunterMaclean has worked to bring together a very talented and dedicated group of attorneys.

Eight new attorneys joined HunterMaclean in 2015. Was this growth directed to a certain area or industry?

The addition of these accomplished attorneys to HunterMaclean gives the firm an increased capacity to assist our clients with their projects, expansions, and business needs. Joey Strength joined the firm as a partner, bringing 15 years of experience in commercial real estate, development, and conservation law in the Brunswick and south Georgia markets. His experience is wide-ranging and includes commercial, mixed use, retail, forestry, hospitality, and resort projects. Joey’s expertise will be invaluable to HunterMaclean clients across the firm’s geographic reach.

This year the firm welcomed two additional partners: Chris “Smitty” Smith and Francesca Macchiaverna. Smitty and Francesca are both seasoned litigators and further strengthen HunterMaclean’s successful litigation practice. Smitty is an experienced trial lawyer, which is reflected in his membership in the exclusive American Board of Trial Attorneys. His experience in healthcare, transportation, employment, insurance, professional malpractice, and construction—among other areas—is impressive and will be called upon in a wide variety of circumstances. Francesca practices in both Georgia and South Carolina and has broad litigation experience. She has a strong background in healthcare, post-judgement and foreign judgement collections, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, real estate foreclosures and workouts, and mechanic’s liens and bonds. Francesca is a certified Circuit Court mediator in South Carolina, and Smitty is a registered neutral mediator in Georgia. Francesca and Smitty deepen the litigation bench at HunterMaclean.

The firm added five associates: Kate Bailey, Patrick Barkley, Nicole Pope, Jonathan Porter, and Christine Ryan. These young attorneys bring a wide range of skills to the firm to support the more senior partners in practices including employment, real estate, insurance, zoning and land use, litigation, information technology, corporate law, and logistics.

Top row, left to right: Christine Ryan, Joey Strength, Nicole Pope, Kate Bailey, Patrick Barkley, Francesca Macchiaverna. Bottom row: Christopher Smith, Jonathan Porter.

Top row, left to right: Christine Ryan, Joey Strength, Nicole Pope, Kate Bailey, Patrick Barkley, and Francesca Macchiaverna. Bottom row, left to right: Chris “Smitty” Smith and Jonathan Porter.

This year HunterMaclean hosted the Savannah Logistics Lunch. What was the overall outcome?

This was the inaugural year for the Savannah Logistics Lunch, which HunterMaclean presented in partnership with the Center of Innovation for Logistics. The Logistics Lunch is an outgrowth of the Georgia Logistics Summit, held annually in Atlanta. As anyone who has attended the Summit will attest, a large contingent of Savannahians are in attendance, including logistics providers, vendors, consumers, and companies that partner with and provide services to logistics companies (such as insurers, bankers, real estate brokers, and attorneys). The Savannah Logistics Lunch was conceived as an opportunity to bring those people together at a local event and to deliver valuable content to the community. The feedback was tremendous and enormously positive; the event sold out and had to be capped at 200 attendees.

How did the Lunch benefit HunterMaclean clients and the logistics industry in Savannah?

Each year the Logistics Lunch will address a topic of importance to the community. This inaugural year, the topic was Cold Chain and Perishables, which has been a growth area for the Port of Savannah and therefore for all the vendors and service providers that work with GPA, many of which are HunterMaclean clients. HunterMaclean is uniquely positioned to bring logistics providers together with business professionals who are either in business with logistics companies or want to be. The Logistics Lunch is a great place for that connection to take place. The Lunch will be an annual event, and we are already in the planning stages for 2016. The firm is working with the Center of Innovation for Logistics and local logistics companies to develop a topic that is both valuable and timely and will continue conversations begun at the 2016 Summit.

Was this an unusual amount of activity for HunterMaclean?

The addition of new attorneys, the expansion of services and greater offerings for clients, and seeing that reflected in the recognitions—2015 was certainly a busy year for the firm.

Now that we are in 2016, what do you see on the horizon?

An exciting sector of growth for Savannah and for the firm is the film and TV industry. Georgia’s film credit program has resulted in our state rising to number three in film production nationwide. With SEDA’s additional incentives for productions locating in our area, there will definitely be new opportunities for existing businesses, new businesses that support film production, and a growing local film community. HunterMaclean is already working with film-related clients, and we look forward to being a part of continued local growth.