Most people know that when a lawsuit is filed, it can lead to a trial. But they don’t understand all the steps that happen after a suit is filed but before the trial phase. 


These stages of civil litigation will determine if a lawsuit actually makes it to a courtroom.  In most cases, a jury will never hear a dispute. Somewhere along the stages, the parties will reach an outcome.


Rustin Smith, an associate attorney with Stewart, Melvin, & Frost, will discuss the Stages of Civil Litigation. more
Published Monday, August 25, 2014

People who are beginning divorce proceedings have a lot on their minds. In addition to mourning the loss of a relationship, there can be a lot of anxiety associated with the uncertainty of the process. It helps to understand that all divorces will follow a course. Through cooperation, some divorces will follow a direct path, while others can be more contentious making the process longer and stressful. How the parties navigate that map is entirely up to them. more
Published Monday, August 11, 2014


All lawyers in Georgia are members of the State Bar of Georgia. The State Bar has been around in some form since the late 1800s when it was called the Georgia Bar Association. It was not until the 1960s that all lawyers in the state were required to be members of the State Bar of Georgia. Now there are more than 36,000 active members.


The purpose of the State Bar is to foster among its members the principles of duty and service to the public; to improve the administration of justice; and to advance the science of law. more
Published Monday, July 28, 2014

In a recent Legal Briefs’ question and answer, Mark Alexander is an experienced litigator specializing in personal injury law talked about what punitive damages are in civil lawsuits and how we often get a distorted, negative view of punitive damages. One of the most famous cases involving punitive damages was the McDonald’s coffee case. Many people have only heard the side of the case that painted the plaintiff in a negative light but there is a side that helps show why punitive damages are important in civil cases. more
Published Monday, July 14, 2014

In 2007, the number of reverse mortgages peaked at approximately 115,000. By 2012, the number fell to 51,000. At the same time, the rate of default on reverse mortgages rose to approximately 9.4 percent of loans in 2012, up from 2 percent a decade earlier, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There is no data on how many heirs are facing foreclosure because of reverse mortgages but that is a growing problem for children of parents who took out a reverse mortgage. more
Published Monday, June 30, 2014

For the second year in a row, Stewart Melvin & Frost was the overall winner in the local Georgia Legal Food Frenzy competition which raises money and collects food for the state’s regional food banks. more
Published Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Everyone likes to ‘Do It Yourself.’ But that does not always work out for the best whether it’s fixing a leaky faucet or a legal matter. Online legal forms can appear to be a bargain but they can also create more problems and expense. Estate planning is one area that we can create problems for ourselves by relying on Do-It-Yourself legal forms. more
Published Monday, June 16, 2014

In reading or hearing stories about court juries delivering big dollar verdicts in civil lawsuits, we often get a distorted, negative view of punitive damages. Are there any restrictions to what a jury can award? And where do you draw the line between simply reimbursing an accident victim for their medical expenses and punishing the defendant who caused the accident? more
Published Monday, May 19, 2014

n a previous Legal Brief, we discussed the importance of a business having a buy-sell agreement. Buy-sell agreements are an important part of business succession plans. Companies without one can find themselves in a tough position if something happens to one of the owners. Stewart Melvin & Frost attorney Jim Coyle, who specializes in estate planning, wills and trusts,

  will continue our discussion on buy-sell agreements. more
Published Monday, May 5, 2014

What would happen to your business if something happened to you or your partner such as one of you dying, becomes disabled and not able to work, or retires. This could lead to your business failing and you employees losing their jobs. There are ways to protect against that happening. more
Published Monday, April 21, 2014

There are benefits of doing your own legwork prior to seeing a lawyer.  

There are things the client can do on their own before the initial meeting that will help their attorney, save them money and speed up the process. more
Published Monday, April 7, 2014

In real estate business and law, a title search or property title search is the process of retrieving documents evidencing events in the history of a piece of real property, to determine relevant interests in and regulations concerning that property. Property title records are kept in a county government’s deed room and it is open to the public not just realtors or real estate attorneys. more
Published Monday, March 24, 2014

n recent years there have been a number of changes to the Federal estate and gift tax laws.  One of those changes, made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, is referred to as "portability" and affects many estates which would not otherwise be concerned about estate and gift taxes. more
Published Monday, March 10, 2014

Stewart Melvin & Frost attorneys Rustin Smith and Ronny Hulsey will be discussing the role of attorneys as small business advisors as part of a series of seminars conducted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. more
Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Whenever divorce becomes inevitable, there are many factors to consider in the dissolution of a marriage. If children are involved, nothing is more important than how they will continue to be cared for. The decision on custody can be difficult. There are many factors involved. Joining us today is Julia Greene, an attorney in the Family Law section at Stewart Melvin & Frost. Julia will help have a better understanding of child custody laws in Georgia. more
Published Monday, February 24, 2014