There is a historic relationship between the law firm of Anderson, Walker & Reichert and the city of Macon, deeply rooted in cultural and educational contributions and public service.
Anderson, Walker & Reichert's primary mission is to render excellent legal service to businesses and individuals, representing clients in court as well as keeping them out of court. That philosophy, paired with a strong emphasis on integrity and community betterment, has been the tradition in a law practice spanning three centuries. Honoring this heritage, lawyers at Anderson, Walker & Reichert consider law not just a business but a calling. Meeting clients' needs is their primary reward; getting paid to do so is a bonus.
The firm traces its origins to 1849 when Robert Sampson Lanier and brother-in-law William Henry Anderson began practicing law together in the growing and prosperous city of Macon. Lanier was born in Athens after his father moved from North Carolina to establish hotels along the burgeoning southern frontier, among them Macon's Lanier House. Lanier met Anderson in college in Virginia and married Anderson's sister Many Jane in 1840. In 1842, they became parents of the poet and musician Sidney Lanier. A much younger brother, Clifford Anderson came to Macon to be close to his kin after being orphaned and left penniless in 1845. Undaunted by his circumstances, the youngster educated himself by reading the classics, and then law, while working at the Lanier family's downtown hotel.
Formal legal education was rare in those days. Aspiring lawyers trained in the offices of other lawyers, reading law books and observing the practice of their mentors. They were required to appear before a Superior Court judge for "examination"; if they passed, they were admitted to the bar. William Henry Anderson died unexpectedly at twenty-eight; nevertheless Clifford continued to study under Robert Lanier, was admitted to the bar in 1852 at age nineteen, and immediately joined Lanier's practice, known then and for many years after as "Lanier and Anderson." Age difference was never a problem; the two men had complementary talents and were admired for industry, amiability, intellect, and probity. In an era when lawyers tended to practice alone or to change partners frequently, only Lanier's death in 1893 ended their remarkable partnership.
The firm's involvement in public service got off to an early start. Clifford was a member of the Confederate Congress prior to the end of the Civil War. in 1856, Clifford was named judge of the newly established City Court of Macon. After serving a year, he recommended that it be abolished. Subsequently, he was elected to the Macon City Council and, later, to the state legislature. He was Georgia's Attorney General from 1880-1890, earning praise from notables like former governor Nat Harris, who described him as "probably the ablest and, on many accounts, the most remarkable practitioner before the bar at this time in the state." The firm's involvement in public service continued when Mercer University established a law school in 1878. Anderson became a member of its first faculty, beginning a close relationship between the university and the firm that continued into the twentieth century when the school's first building was named for partner T. E. Ryals in recognition of his efforts in its construction. The firm's relationship continues into the twenty-first century, and, over the years, several members of the firm have taught at Mercer University's School of Law.
Most of Lanier's and Anderson's sons followed their fathers into the practice of law, although most left Macon in the lean years after the Civil War. One lawyer became more famous as a poet. Sidney Lanier, who, after several years of practicing law, found the lure of music and poetry irresistible and followed his muse north to Baltimore. Anderson's eldest, Clifford L. Anderson, practiced for a time in Macon before moving to Atlanta, where he founded the firm of Anderson and Roundtree, later known for most of the twentieth century as Hansell and Post. According to the plaque, Clifford was Chair of the Fulton County Commission when the Fulton County House was built in 1912. He was also Commander of the Georgia Militia in 1918. Another son, James, practiced with his father and uncle for about fifteen years before joining his brother's firm in Atlanta after his brother's first law partner died.
It was left to the sixth son to carry on the old firm. In 1871, Anderson had notified his partner of the child's arrival with a trace of humor:
Dear Bro. Robert,
Another boy baby born this morning about 9 o'clock. I suppose I shall have to name him "Smith." Please send letters & papers and arrange, if you can, for law class at 4 this P.M. Am sleepy and tired; will try to go down tomorrow. Annie and baby doing well.
Instead of Smith, the child was christened Robert Lanier Anderson, and he became the link tying the nineteenth century firm to today's. Admitted to the Bar in 1893 in time to help his father complete the monumental 1895 Annotation for the Georgia Code, this Anderson formed a thirty-year partnership with Thomas Edward Ryals. His son Robert Lanier Anderson, Jr., joined them in 1922, and Charles W. Walker joined in 1933. During the Depression, Ryals left the firm. Albert P. Reichert joined the firm in 1949, and the firm took its present name in 1959 after the death of the elder Mr. Anderson.
Current LLP (equity) Members are Albert P. Reichert, Jr., Eugene S. Hatcher, and Jonathan A. Alderman. Matthew G. Schwartz joined the firm in 2019. Lt. Col. (Retired) Schwartz served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps in the U.S. Air Force. William J. Self, who served as the Judge of the Probate Court of Bibb County for almost 24 years and who is now a Senior Judge of the Probate Courts of Georgia, joined the firm as "Of Counsel" in 2013. Former Partner Robert A. B. Reichert is presently on an extended leave of absence, now serving as the Mayor of the Macon-Bibb County consolidated government.
The firm has a rich history of association with judges, including the current former judge now practicing ("Of Counsel") with the firm. Hon. R. Lanier Anderson, III, Judge, U. S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was a partner in the firm from 1964 through 1979. The late Hon. Mallory C. Atkinson was affiliated with the firm, as was his son. He was also was the first General Counsel to the State Bar of Georgia and served as a Judge of the Superior Courts for the Macon Judicial Circuit. The late Hon. Walker P. Johnson, Jr., practiced with the firm prior to becoming a Judge of the Superior Courts for the Macon Judicial Circuit. Hon. S. Philip Brown, retired Judge of the Superior Courts for the Macon Judicial Circuit, practiced with the firm as "Of Counsel" for several years until his appointment as a Senior Judge of the Superior Courts of Georgia in 2018. As noted, Senior Judge William J. Self currently practices with the firm as "Of Counsel."
The practice of law has changed as Macon and the area's business community have grown and become more complex, but Anderson, Walker & Reichert's adherence to the highest ethical standards, devotion to public service and the collegiality of their practice has remained steadfast. In response to changes, the firm has broadened its service abilities and practice areas, and it remains committed to continuing education, keeping the firm and its attorneys well ahead of changes in the legal profession and justice system. Like most lawyers today, some of our attorneys specialize in various aspects of the law in order better to meet the needs of their business and individual clients.
Good "lawyering" requires hard work supported by creativity and imagination to reach optimal solutions for clients. Our firm operates on the premise that planning is the key; foresight best avoids disputes while serving client interests. However, should an irreconcilable dispute arise, or reasonable settlement becomes unattainable, through experienced trial attorneys, prevailing in court for our clients becomes our goal.
Attorneys with the firm of Anderson, Walker & Reichert, LLP, regularly practice in all courts in the State of Georgia, in all U. S. District Courts in Georgia, and in the U. S. 11th Circuit Courts of Appeals. The firm's areas of practice include, among others: general practice; corporate and business law; insurance defense; tax, estate planning, estates and trusts, wills, and probate; guardianship and conservatorship; real estate; personal injury; creditor bankruptcy; employment; and family law, including adoptions.