There is a historic relationship between the law firm of Anderson, Walker & Reichert, LLP, and the city of Macon that is deeply rooted in cultural and educational contributions and public service.
Our primary mission is rendering 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 nearly two centuries. Honoring this heritage, our lawyers at Anderson, Walker & Reichert, LLP, consider law to be not just a business but a calling. Meeting clients’ needs is our primary reward; getting paid to do so is a bonus.
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A Rich History Reaching Back Over 170 Years
Our 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. In 1845, a much younger brother, Clifford Anderson, came to Macon to be close to his kin after being orphaned and left penniless. Undaunted by his circumstances, the youngster educated himself by first reading the classics and then law books while working at the Lanier family’s downtown hotel.
Practical Legal Experience Taught The Old-Fashioned Way
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 Anderson died unexpectedly at 28; nevertheless, Clifford Anderson continued to study under Lanier, was admitted to the bar in 1852 at age 19 and immediately joined Lanier’s practice, known then and for many years after as “Lanier and Anderson. The 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 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 Anderson was a member of the Confederate Congress prior to the end of the Civil War. In 1856, he 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 to1890, 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. Clifford Anderson became a member of its first faculty, beginning a close relationship between the university and the firm, which continued into the 20th 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 21st century, and, over the years, several members of the firm have taught at the Mercer University School of Law.
A Family Legacy
Most of Lanier’s and Clifford 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. Clifford 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 20th century as Hansell and Post. According to the plaque, Clifford L. Anderson was chair of the Fulton County Commission when the Fulton County House was built in 1912. He was also a commander of the Georgia Militia in 1918. Another son, James Anderson, practiced with his father and uncle for about 15 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, Clifford Anderson had notified his partner, Lanier, 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 19th century firm to our firm today. 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 30-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 Robert Lanier Anderson.
Our Team Today
Our current firm partners are Albert P. Reichert Jr., Jonathan A. Alderman and Matthew G. Schwartz. Former partner Robert A. B. Reichert rejoined the firm as of counsel in January 2021, following an extended leave of absence during which he served as mayor of the city of Macon and the first mayor of the Macon-Bibb County consolidated government. 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.
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, a judge for the 11th U.S. 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 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.
Continuing The Legacy Of Legal Excellence
The practice of law has changed as Macon and the area’s business community have grown and become more complex, but our adherence to the highest ethical standards, devotion to public service and collegiality of our practice has remained steadfast. In response to changes, we have broadened our service abilities and practice areas, and our team remains committed to continuing education, keeping us 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 to better meet the needs of our business and individual clients.
Our attorneys at 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 11th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Our 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.
Good “lawyering” requires hard work supported by creativity and imagination to reach optimal solutions for clients. We operate on the premise that planning is key; foresight best avoids disputes while serving client interests. However, should an irreconcilable dispute arise or a reasonable settlement becomes unattainable, our experienced team’s goal becomes prevailing in court.
Ready To Serve Our Clients Today
Our clients remain at the center of our practice as we strive today to serve them in all their legal disputes or needs. Whether you are facing litigation and you need a serious team of skilled litigators to defend your interests or you are in need of legal counsel to plan your estate, our attorneys can help you. Come and speak with one of them today by calling 478-845-6775 or contact us online. When you are in need of a trusted name in Georgia, you can rely on Anderson, Walker & Reichert, LLP.