J Thomas Salata
A former investigator and firearms instructor. Prior to representing individuals in personal injury and criminal cases, he worked in the insurance industry investigating insurance fraud. He saw many people hounded by insurance companies and decided he wanted to defend them rather than investigate them. He received his Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School, in Atlanta in 1998, and was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1999. He was also admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District and Middle District of Georgia. He is a member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Metro Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorneys and is past president of the North Fulton Bar Association.
Get To Know Tom
Prior to representing individuals in personal injury and criminal cases, Tom worked in the insurance industry investigating insurance fraud. He saw many people hounded by insurance companies and decided he wanted to defend them rather than investigate them. He received his Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta in 1998, and he was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1999. He was also admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District and Middle District of Georgia. He is a member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Metro Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorneys and is past president of the North Fulton Bar Association.
Since trying cases throughout the state and working with all socio-economic levels, Tom calls Atlanta his home. He takes pride in both the professional and personal relationships he has made here with the people he works with and for. One of these relationships is with Kelly Knull, the firm’s client-oriented office administrator and paralegal, who recently celebrated eleven years with us.
My Career Path:
J Thomas Salata, “Tom” began his 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 his partner of many years, Nancy Killian.
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 over 21 years in the criminal and civil trial system.
In law school, Tom served on several committees including the supervisory student council, which was charged with moving the law school from a dilapidated building on Peachtree Street to its current campus on West Peachtree Street. He also served on the student council, where he assisted 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 of public interest law. He refers to his participation in Operation Stand Down with the United States Veterans’ Administration as one of his most honorable areas of service, where he identified and aided 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. 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. In his more than two decades of legal experience, Tom has become known throughout legal circles as an experienced and seasoned trial lawyer, having been interviewed and consulted over the years by local television stations WXIA and WSB.
My Life Outside the Office:
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.
Certified Legal Specialties
- Mediator, Georgia Board of Mediators and Arbitrators
- Operation Stand Down, U.S. Veteran’s Administration
- NOLA Wilderness First Aid Certification
- Georgia, 1999
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia, 1999
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Georgia
- John Marshall Law School, Atlanta, Georgia | J.D – 1998
- West Virginia Wesleyan College | B.A. – 1988
Pro Bono Activities
- Alpharetta Police Activities League
- Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition (Teacher/Coach)
- Mock Trial Coach, Chattahoochee & Centennial HS
- Watch D.O.G.S. Midway Elementary, Forsyth, GA
- Founding Member of Project Innocence
- Member, Southern Poverty Law Center, Honoree Wall of Tolerance
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Aviation Division, State Bar of Georgia
- Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Contributing Member
- Metro Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorneys
- North Fulton Bar Association, President, 2014 – 2015
- US Triathlon Association
- Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce
- North Fulton Bar Association, Board of Directors, 2007 – Present
- Alpharetta Police Athletics League PAL Mentorship Program
- Criminal Law Division, State Bar of Georgia
- Family Law Division, State Bar of Georgia
- Bankruptcy Division, State Bar of Georgia
- North Fulton Rotary
- Domestic and Civil Mediation, Georgia Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution certification
- Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies, Investigator and Firearms Instructor (Inactive)
- American Alpine Club, Associate Member