Original Program Date :
Hall Booth Smith, P.C.
191 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Joel grew up on a peanut, cotton, watermelon, swine and cattle farm in Abbeville, Georgia. Instructed by those experiences on the farm, Joel now leads Hall Booth Smith’s food and agriculture industry group. Joel counsels farm and agribusiness clients, both institutional and family-owned, during every stage of farmland and agriculture operations transactions, including negotiations, due diligence, closings, and post-closing integration and operations. Joel also provides regulatory guidance and litigation services in the food, agriculture, and timber spaces, including specific expertise on the statutory trusts and regulatory framework of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
Joel is a proud Double Dawg, having earned his Jurist Doctorate and Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, majoring in Agribusiness, from the University of Georgia. Joel also holds an Associate of Science in Agriculture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Joel is the Past President of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association and is a former member of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council. He is the treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture. A former State President and National Vice President for the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America). Joel was twice appointed by former Governor Sonny Perdue to the Agricultural Education Advisory Commission. Joel was recognized in 2011 with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association Young Alumni Achievement Award. In 2022, Joel was named 40 under 40 by the University of Georgia Alumni Association.
Joel is active in the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a lifetime member of the National FFA Alumni Association, a member of the American Agricultural Law Association, and a member of the Agriculture Law Section and Animal Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association. Joel has been a guest speaker for the American Agricultural Law Association, the State Bar of Georgia Agriculture Law Section, the University of Georgia School of Law Annual Red Clay Conference, the Georgia Young Farmer Association, Georgia Farm Bureau, the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetables, and the Georgia Agritourism Association. Joel and his wife are members of Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia. He and his wife also own and operate Bay Branch Cattle Company, LLC, a small commercial cattle operation located in Wilcox County, Georgia.
Buck assists clients from numerous industries navigate regulatory, transactional, and litigation challenges arising in the complex and dynamic environmental law landscape. From identifying environmental issues and crafting unique mitigation strategies to advising clients on enforcement and compliance matters, Buck is results-driven and has a reputation for efficiency, thoroughness, and client care.
Buck counsels major financial institutions with respect to risk management and mitigation of environmental issues identified in large loan and commercial mortgage portfolios. Buck also helps electric utilities, waste companies, and other industries address the unique environmental challenges they face. His experience spans multiple statutory and regulatory schemes, including RCRA, CERCLA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule, and their state counterparts.
As part of a full range of services, Buck:
In his pro bono work, Buck has helped young children facing deportation gain asylum.
Before joining Troutman Pepper, Buck was an Analyst for the Georgia House of Representatives Budget and Research Office. There, he specialized in natural resources and environmental policy.
Ashley Short grew up on a small family farm in East Tennessee. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee before attending Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law. Ashley worked with a private practice in Macon, Georgia prior to joining the Georgia Department of Agriculture as an attorney in 2013. She was named General Counsel of the agency in 2016 and served in that role until joining the US Environmental Protection Agency in January 2024.
Ashley enjoys exploring the outdoors, playing golf, cheering on the Tennessee Volunteers, and spending time with family and friends.
Mr. Frank M. “Max” Wood was named the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) on October 15, 2019.
Mr. Wood is a native of the Atlanta, Georgia area. He graduated Cum Laude from LaGrange College in 1981 and from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1985.
Mr. Wood served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate for five years and remained in the Reserves and/or Air National Guard until he retired with the rank of Colonel in December of 2015. As a reserve Air Force officer, Mr. Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and Islamabad, Pakistan.
Mr. Wood served as the Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit in Georgia and also worked in a private practice in Macon, Georgia.
In 2001, he was appointed the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia by President George W. Bush and served until 2009. While serving as United States Attorney, Mr. Wood deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for one year to serve as the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Mr. Wood was appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge for the State of Georgia in 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue.
Mr. Wood is married to the former Suzanne Bronson, and they have three children.
Mitchell Gibbs is a partner with Rainwater, Gibbs & Wright, LLP, in Cordele, Georgia, specializing in commercial and residential transactions, as well as estate, corporate and general business matters. Gibbs represents many local farmers, businesses, and has served as the board attorney for Crisp Regional Hospital since 2015.
Gibbs grew up in Watkinsville, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia and graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources. Immediately following college, Gibbs attended Georgia State College of Law where he graduated cum laude in 2004. Gibbs practiced law in Athens, Georgia with the Law Offices of M. Barton Rice, Jr., where he handled commercial and residential real estate closings in addition to representing several real estate related companies and building suppliers. In 2008, Gibbs moved with his family to the hometown of his wife and began working for Rainwater & Harpe. The following year, Mr. Gibbs and Mr. David Rainwater formed Rainwater & Gibbs, LLP, and subsequently formed Rainwater, Gibbs & Wright, LLP in 2012.
Russ has practiced in the area of estate planning for over 25 years with clients throughout south Georgia and north Florida with many owning agricultural or timber assets. He grew up on a dairy and tobbaco farm in Colquitt County, Georgia and continues a lifetime of interest in agriculture. Russ is a graduate of Georgia State University School of Law (magna cum laude) and the University of Georgia. He is member of the bars of Georgia and Florida, practicing in both the Valdosta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida offices of Coleman Talley LLP. He has four sons, three of whom have graduated from UGA, with one in his junior year at UGA.
John Allen practices environmental law with a focus on complex litigation. John has represented the State of Georgia as a Special Assistant Attorney General since 2005 in litigation and regulatory matters related to the disputes among Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning operation of federal reservoirs and state water rights, including equitable apportionment litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court. John has represented local governments in state court litigation, focusing on expert witness preparation and e-discovery. In addition, John has advised clients before the Georgia Public Service Commission in matters involving supply contracts, major rate case litigation, tariffs, and natural gas and telecommunications certificates. John also advises business clients regarding matters before state regulatory agencies and courts and regarding transaction involving environmental issues related to commercial real estate.
Austin Atkinson is an attorney at Hall Booth Smith in Atlanta. He focuses his practice on appellate litigation and other complex disputes, including agriculture-specific litigation. Austin also advises agribusinesses ranging from family owned farms to larger corporations in non-litigation matters.
Before joining the Hall Booth Smith, Austin served as a law clerk to the Honorable J. Randal Hall of United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
Austin graduated summa cum laude from the Georgia State University College of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and a Research Editor for the Georgia State University Law Review. Austin now teaches Georgia Appellate Practice and Procedure at Georgia State.
Presiding Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard was appointed as the 73rd judge of the
Court of Appeals of Georgia on November 1, 2010, by Governor Sonny Perdue. Prior
to his appointment, Judge Dillard was in private practice with James, Bates, Pope &
Spivey in Macon, serving as chairman of the firm's appellate practice group; served
as law clerk to Judge Daniel A. Manion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh
Circuit; and worked as an associate at Stone & Baxter in Macon, handling complex
In 2012 and 2018, Judge Dillard was elected by his fellow Georgians
to serve full six-year terms on the Court of Appeals. On July 1, 2017, Judge Dillard
was sworn in as the 30th Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia for a twoyear
term, which ended on June 30, 2019. Judge Dillard is also an active alumnus of
Samford University, and is currently serving as president of the alumni association.
Most importantly, he has been married to his college sweetheart, the former Krista
McDaniel, for over 28 years. They have three children and are active parishioners at
Saint Joseph Catholic Church.
Stephan is a partner in the Tifton Office of Moore, Clarke, DuVall & Rodgers, P.C., and is a member of the firm’s Commercial, Banking and Business Law Group. Stephan regularly counsels clients in a variety of business, agricultural, and commercial matters, including commercial litigation, commercial lending, and the general representation of businesses. Stephan also represents creditors in commercial and agricultural bankruptcies. Licensed to practice law in Georgia and Alabama, Stephan is admitted in all state and federal courts in Georgia and Alabama.
Stephan is a graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (A.S., 2000), the University of Georgia (B.B.A., 2002), and the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University (J.D. 2014). Stephan is a regular presenter in his firms annual banking law seminar, and remains active in his community: Member, ABAC Alumni Board of Directors, 2008-2011; Member, Board of Directors of the United Way of South Central Georgia, 2010-2011; Member, Board of Directors of the United Way of Southwest Georgia, 2017-2019; Graduate, Tifton/Tift County Emerging Leaders Institute, 2009; Graduate, Leadership Albany, 2017; Recipient, Southwest Georgia’s 40 Under Forty, 2017; Member, State Bars of Georgia and Alabama; Member, Dougherty County Rotary Club, 2019-2020; Member, Tifton Rotary Club, 2007-2011 and 2020-Present; Member, First Baptist Church of Tifton.
Stephan is married to Allison Whitehead Ray, and they have three children.
Collier has been recognized as a Rising Star by Georgia Super Lawyers® and is a member of the Georgia State Bar, Macon Bar Association, the American Agricultural Law Association and the National Association of Bond Lawyers. He previously services a Chair of the State Bar's Agriculture Law Section. He earned his bachelor’s in agriculture from the University of Georgia and received his Juris Doctor from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law.
Gentry Mander is the Legal Programs Director at the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to serving low- and moderate-income heirs property owners. Gentry works with clients to clear title to their inherited property in a way that best achieves their goals; whether that be to sell or divide the property, keep it in the family; unlocks its equity, or access assistance programs. She also counsels clients on estate planning tools to prevent their property from becoming heirs property in the future. Gentry received her B.A. from Stetson University, and her Masters in Sustainable Development Practice and J.D. from the University of Florida. She is active in her neighborhood association and serves on the board of the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool and the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education.