J Thomas Salata, “Tom” began career in the legal community in 1990 as a State Licensed investigator and firearm preparedness instructor, known for his ability to locate people “living off the grid.” He first earned his reputation after locating the Lawrenceville Two, a pair of teens that disappeared from Gwinnett County in 1991. The teens were found on a small remote island in Puget Sound outside of Seattle, Washington, by Tom and Nancy Killian, his partner of many years.
Fascinated by the skilled advocacy of well-known criminal defense lawyers, Tom decided to attend law school while running T.S.I. & Associates, his own investigative and consulting firm specializing in criminal defense, investigator certification and preparedness training. While attending law school full time, Tom worked with several of the state’s greatest trial lawyers, learning the art of trying cases by staying teachable, a virtue he still holds close after 19 years criminal and civil trial system.
In law school, Tom served on several committees including the supervisory student council charged with moving the law school from its former location in a dilapidated building on Peachtree Street to its current campus on West Peachtree Street and the student council assisting in the provisional approval of ABA Accreditation.
Having graduated with honors from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 1998, Tom elected to remain an additional semester working with the Honorable Hurl Taylor, John Marshall Law School’s esteemed Director of Legal Aid in the area public interest law. He counts as his most honorable areas of service his participation in Operation Stand Down with the United States Veterans’ Administration, identifying and helping homeless veterans. Tom began trying criminal and family law cases in 1999, his first year out of law school. By 2005, he had a significant number of criminal and civil trials in Fulton, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Dawson, Lumpkin, Cherokee, Cobb, Towns, White and Union Counties, as a private attorney and as an appointed public defender for the Atlanta, Cobb and Enotah (Lumpkin, White, Union and Towns) judicial circuits. His wide range of investigative experience served him as a trial lawyer in a variety of cases from superior court capital crimes to juvenile court termination of parental rights and DFACS cases. Tom has become known throughout legal circles as an experienced and seasoned trail lawyer, having been interviewed and consulted over the years by local television stations WXIA and WSB. Since his early trial days, Tom has expanded his practice to include bankruptcy, personal injury, and commercial litigation. Most recently, Tom has been certified as a domestic and civil mediator by the Georgia Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Since trying cases throughout the state and working with all socio-economic levels, Tom calls Atlanta his home town and believes his greatest professional achievement is the positive influence he has had on the people he works with and for. The firm’s client oriented office administrator and paralegal Kelly Knull, recently celebrated ten years with us and the talented Mindi Zhang has been working with Tom as litigation assisted trials for seven years.
Tom makes his home in Alpharetta, Georgia, with his wife Lori and their two children, where he endeavors to find a peaceful balance with work and family and his love of the outdoors. He remains an avid adventurer having taken up high attitude mountaineering. To date, he has climbed several of the highest and most beautiful mountains in North America including Rainier, Ixtaccihautal, and several peaks in the Colorado and Canadian Rockies.