Jeffrey Horst '83 Selected by Peers as One of Georgia's Most Effective Lawyers
|Jeff Horst and his wife, Denise, and their
twin daughters Genae and Janine
Jeffrey Host says he financed his education as a "tree climber." Fresh out of Avon Lake ( Ohio ) High School, he bought himself a chain saw and advertised his tree cutting services. His first customer was a woman in Vermilion. Without asking him for an estimate, she kept him busy for three 15-hour days. He says when he gave her the bill, "she shockingly paid it." That check financed his first year of college at Miami of Ohio and launched a career that would fund law school as well. Hard work and creativity continue to define this Atlanta lawyer specializing in complex commercial litigation and corporate governance.
The first in his family to become a lawyer and admittedly naive, Jeff worked until the day before law school and showed up at his first class without knowing about seating charts or the assignment board. Finding his seat just seconds before his first quarter class began, he watched in amazement as Professor Morgan Shipman strode to the front of the room, opened his book and seating chart and said, "Ms. Beverly Reid, will you tell me the facts of the first case?" Says Jeff, "and damned if she didn't know!" He spent the rest of the day in fear of being called on and a long night reviewing cases in earnest.
Professors Shipman and Reichman and adjunct Professor William E. Knepper helped Jeff learn to think like a lawyer and approach the litigation process strategically. Jeff was recognized for advocacy and writing in the then-mandatory 1L moot court program, and he wrote onto the law journal as a 3L. Reflecting on his intellectual transformation, Jeff says, "I think law school extracts your brain, crumples it up and reinserts it in your head so that forever after, you approach and think differently about issues." Moritz provided, he says, an excellent education.
After a long cold winter practicing for a large Toledo firm, Jeff relocated to Atlanta , joining Bondurant, Miler, Hishon & Stephenson. The firm had handled a pro bono case involving a woman lawyer denied partnership - the case Jeff had written about in his law journal article. It was the perfect convergence of working in a vibrant town for a fast-growing firm with both a national reputation and a social conscience.
When the firm split, Jeff went with the newly formed Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, a boutique firm specializing in complex commercial litigation, the first firm of its kind in Atlanta. He considered himself "very, very lucky" to work closely with Emmet Bondaurant, widely recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the top ten trial lawyers in the country. Jeff says one of their more memorable cases was representation of Coca-Cola bottlers against the Coca-Cola Company in a contract dispute spawning 16 published decisions, two 7-month bench trials in federal court in Delaware , and a multi-million dollar judgment by the trial court. His national practice kept him on the road for months at a time. He had tried multiple week cases in five states.
Jeff eventually formed his own firm with Doug Krevolin. At mid-career, he says his most satisfying case to date was Avnet v. Wyle. Jeff defended Wyle Laboratories, accused of raiding a competitor's employees and misappropriating trade secrets. He characterizes it as a "bet the company" case. Wyle, then the 7th largest semi-conductor company in the U.S., was being sued for $400 million by the largest company in the industry. The case, lasting 6 years, was brought in Georgia and Florida and culminated in a 5-month jury trial in Tampa. "We zipped them," says Jeff, "After only 2 days of deliberation, the jury found for the defense." The National Law Journal selected the case as one of the top ten defense verdicts in the country in 2000. Jeff says the criteria for selection involved the length and complexity of the case as well as the quality of the lawyering.
Jeff says, "to succeed as a lawyer, you not only have to have the intellectual acuity, you have to work extraordinarily hard and bring to your job a practical view of what is in the best interest of the client." Lawyers referring cases to Jeff say they send their corporate clients because Jeff has a deep understanding of the business world, a practical mastery of litigation, and candor in explaining the risks and realities of litigation.
Since 1993, Jeff has taught in Emory University 's Trail Techniques Program, an intensive 10 to14-day mandatory skills workshop for law students at the end of the second year of law school. In addition to teaching cross-examination and how to examine expert witnesses, Jeff also judges mock trials. He does it because he loves trial work and enjoys working with students.
Jeff married for the first time just four years ago to Denise Paultre. Their twin daughters Genae and Janine were born in October, 2004. Those wishing to congratulate Jeff can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.