Matt Coles received his undergraduate degree from Emory University in 1984, where he was the recipient of a National Merit Scholarship in each of his four years. He received his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1987, where he was the recipient of the Milton Rattner Scholarship for academic achievement. Mr. Coles was also a member of the Moot Court Team, served on the Moot Court Board and was elected to the Order of Barristers.
Mr. Coles practiced in the litigation section of Smith, Gambrell & Russell from 1987 to 2009, where he was an equity partner. While at Smith, Gambrell, Mr. Coles developed a specialty representing hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, and other healthcare professionals in malpractice claims, licensure proceedings and with regard to credentialing issues. In addition Mr. Coles represented a wide variety of entities and individuals in general negligence claims. He also has substantial experience representing clients in courts in other jurisdictions. In 2009, Mr. Coles and his law partner, Tom Barton, left Smith, Gambrell to form the law firm of Coles Barton LLP. Mr. Coles maintains an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
Mr. Coles has tried to verdict many malpractice claims and has successfully defended on appeal numerous favorable trial victories. He also has substantial experience representing clients in mediations and arbitrations. He is pleased to have been recognized for his outstanding defense work by, among other things, receiving several Defense Counsel of the Year Awards from AAOMS National Insurance Company and numerous Continuing Excellence Awards from OMS National Insurance Company. Mr. Coles was named OMS National Insurance Company and Fortress Insurance Company’s 2016 Attorney of the Year.
Tom Barton earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Presbyterian College in 1986. He received his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia in 1989. He served on the Editorial Board of the Georgia Law Review and was elected to membership in the Order of the Coif.
Mr. Barton spent the first 20 years of his career practicing at Smith, Gambrell & Russell where he was an equity partner and headed one of the firm’s business litigation teams. He co-founded Coles Barton in 2009 with his long-time partner, Matt Coles, who likewise had spent his entire career at Smith, Gambrell & Russell prior to founding Coles Barton. Mr. Barton maintains an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been selected for several years for inclusion in the Georgia Super Lawyers list.
Mr. Barton continues to focus his practice on a variety of business litigation matters, including shareholder disputes, franchise and distribution disputes, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, trusts and estates litigation, software licensing and project management disputes, business contract, tort and RICO disputes, mortgage fraud-related litigation, special assets and workout litigation, and title and real estate-related litigation.
Mr. Barton is admitted to practice in all Georgia state courts as well as numerous federal district and circuit courts. He also has extensive experience handling arbitrations and mediations before the American Arbitration Association, JAMS and other alternative dispute resolution forums.
Aaron Tady received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Brigham Young University in 1999 and his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Brigham Young University’s Law School in 2002. Mr. Tady served as the Lead Articles Editor for the BYU Law Review and received the John S. Welch Award for Outstanding Legal Writing. Mr. Tady began his legal career at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, where he practiced in the business litigation section. He joined Coles Barton shortly after its formation in 2009.
Mr. Tady specializes in complex commercial litigation. Mr. Tady has extensive experience litigating business contract disputes, commercial lending and workouts, mortgage fraud, closely-held businesses, insurance coverage, and title and other real property disputes. Mr. Tady has also successfully defended many health care professionals and organizations in various types of professional malpractice lawsuits.
Mr. Tady is a member of the Georgia Bar Association. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and all Georgia state courts, including the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.
John Autry received his Bachelor of Music degree, cum laude, from Samford University in 1994. Following a successful career as a professional opera singer, he earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2003. The Georgia Journal of Intellectual Property Law published his article, “Toward a Definition of Striking Similarity in Copyright Infringement Actions for Musical Works,” in 2003. Mr. Autry was also a 2003 National Winner in the Louis Jackson Writing Competition in Labor and Employment Law. His winning article, “Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA: Are Employers Required to Interact? The Courts Say Yes, but the Law Says No,” appeared in the Chicago-Kent Law Review in 2004.
Mr. Autry began his legal career at Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP, where he practiced for twelve years. He rose to the level of Partner in the Firm’s Litigation Practice. He has significant experience in a wide variety of insurance defense settings and complex commercial litigation arenas, including, banking and lending, negligence and professional liability, landlord–tenant, and employment. He has represented numerous lenders in both state and federal courts in all aspects of litigation involving troubled assets and has particular expertise in Georgia’s real estate foreclosure and confirmation process, having served as lead counsel in numerous foreclosure confirmation proceedings involving multi-million dollar commercial assets. Mr. Autry has also represented lenders and title insurance companies in title litigation and mortgage fraud cases, commercial lessors in landlord-tenant disputes, and employers in various discrimination and wage cases. Since joining Coles Barton LLP in 2015, Mr. Autry has focused his practice on medical and dental malpractice defense.
Mr. Autry was selected for inclusion in the Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars in 2012 and 2013 and maintains an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He lives in Athens with his daughters, Liz and Katie, and is active at Athens Church, where he leads Starting Point groups and volunteers with preschoolers. Mr. Autry has served as attorney coach for his daughter’s award-winning mock trial team and loves to play piano and sing whenever he gets the chance.
Jacquelyn D. Smith’s practice focuses on medical malpractice defense, wrongful death, personal injury, premises liability, products liability, insurance defense, and business litigation matters. Prior to joining Coles Barton LLP, Jacquelyn was a partner at a prominent insurance defense firm, and an attorney for a leading communications, media and automotive services company handling commercial, media law, and intellectual property disputes and litigation matters. She was also an associate for an Am Law100 law firm in New York City where her practice included commercial, securities, antitrust, bankruptcy, estate, criminal, employment, family, insurance and reinsurance litigation.
Jacquelyn received her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, where she was elected to the Moot Court Board. She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where she was on the Dean’s List and received Academic Excellence Awards.
Jacquelyn is admitted to the state bars of Georgia, New York, and New Jersey. She is also admitted to the Georgia Supreme Court and the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Georgia and for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. In her spare time, Jacquelyn enjoys contemporary dance, softball and spending time with her husband and two children.