“I am thrilled to embark on this exciting journey with Signature Resolution, where I bring over 40 years of experience as a trusted business adviser and litigator. My passion for making a meaningful impact through words has guided my career, and as a mediator, I am excited to contribute empathy, understanding, and constructive solutions to resolve client issues promptly and effectively. Together with the rest of the esteemed neutrals on this panel, I look forward to shaping a future of thoughtful and impactful dispute resolution."
- J.D., Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
- B.A., Southern Methodist University
Jim Leonard is a trusted business adviser, formidable litigator, and seasoned insurance professional who has committed his career to creating dispute resolution strategies that positioned his clients to succeed in instances where vital coverage was denied. He brings over 40 years of experience to his new role as Signature Resolution mediator.
Leonard’s decision to enter the legal profession stemmed from a passion that emerged during his middle school years. Even at that early age, he held a profound desire to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives through the law. Leonard recognized the immense power of words and how they could shape destinies. This fascination with words propelled him toward the field of law. In the intricacies of legal arguments, the precision and significance of words became evident. Today, as a lawyer, he finds immense fulfillment in the convergence of these elements, shaping a career that continues to captivate and inspire him.
Leonard’s college career at Southern Methodist University is a testament to his precocious talent and unwavering dedication to the legal field. Starting college at the remarkable age of 16, he pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History before attaining his Juris Doctorate from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. Remarkably, he earned the distinction of being the youngest person in his law school class. During his college journey, Leonard’s exceptional abilities became evident when he tried his first case at 22 as a third-year law student. Under the mentorship of a local attorney, he obtained a temporary bar card, allowing him to try a felony DWI case and emerge victorious. His college years were marked not only by academic excellence, as seen in his National Merit Scholar status and American Jurisprudence award, but also by practical courtroom experience that set the foundation for his successful legal career.
Leonard began his legal career with Hughes & Associates, a litigation boutique in Dallas, Texas. He had the opportunity to conduct numerous first-chair jury trials in contract, commercial tort, criminal, and family law disputes. In 1987, as Leonard’s young family began growing, he took a position as General Counsel of Newton Medical Group, a large multidisciplinary medical group based in San Francisco, California specializing in forensic science and medical evaluations in virtually all medical specialties, but with a focus on neurology, orthopedics, and internal medicine.
In 1990, Leonard joined MAG Mutual Insurance Company in Atlanta, where he held the position of Vice President, Claims, and General Counsel. The company was and still is the largest professional liability insurer in Georgia. In this role, he successfully managed the legal and claims departments of the most substantial medical and hospital professional liability insurer in the Southeast. His responsibilities extended from catastrophic claims management to drafting insurance policies tailored for hospital and managed care insureds. Additionally, he assumed the crucial role of Chief Legal Officer for the company’s Bermuda captive reinsurance facility, S.U.R.F.
Leonard transitioned to private practice in 1999 at Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta where he served as a partner in the firm’s Insurance Recovery Group. Leonard’s practice focused exclusively on representing corporate and individual policyholders in disputes with insurance companies. He then moved to Barnes & Thornburg LLP in 2010 and collaborated with clients to facilitate their insurance recovery initiatives, focusing on securing insurance proceeds in a wide variety of claims, including environmental hazards like pollution and asbestos to directors and officers, and errors and omissions insurance claims. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in guiding clients through intricate insurance and indemnity challenges during mergers and acquisitions. His expertise extended to aiding in establishing and overseeing captive insurance companies.
After decades of representing policyholders and working in-house for insurance companies, Leonard is well-versed in the financial and emotional impact of a coverage dispute. Throughout his career, he has represented a variety of industries and professions, including airlines, auto parts, banking, technology, religious and non-profit organizations, communications, construction, consumer products, credit management, hospitals, infrastructure, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, paper and other forest products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, physicians, property management companies, universities, and many others.
In his new position as a mediator with Signature Resolution, Leonard is enthusiastic about assisting the firm with establishing a robust presence on the East Coast and resolving client issues promptly and effectively through mediation. Given his unique experience representing an insurance company as its Vice President, Claims, and General Counsel and policyholders, his mediation style is distinguished by a profound sense of empathy, extending beyond mere listening to truly understand each perspective involved in a claim. He allows space for thoughtful consideration and views claims from various angles, emphasizing the crucial recognition of each party’s position. His approach involves not only understanding but also offering constructive solutions, ensuring that the mediation process is characterized by thoughtfulness and a commitment to resolution.
- Partner/Shareholder, Barnes & Thornburg LLP (2010-2023)
- Partner, Kilpatrick Stockton (1999-2010)
- Vice President, Claims & General Counsel, Mutual Insurance Company (1990-1999)
- General Counsel, Newton Medical Group (1986-1990)
- Attorney, Hughes & Associates (1982-1986)
Professional Achievements and Memberships
- Georgia Super Lawyers (2022-2024)
- Lifetime Achievement Award, ALM Media Fulton County Daily Report (2022)
- Chambers USA, Tier One for Insurance Coverage (2021-2024)
- Certified arbitrator and general civil mediator, Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Dispute Resolution (2020-Present)
- Member, Atlanta Bar Association (2021-Present)
- Best Lawyers in America (2015-2024)
- Co-chair, American Bar Association Construction Litigation Insurance Subcommittee (2014-2021)
- Georgia Top-Rated Lawyer, ALM Global (2014-2024)
- AV Preeminent Attorney, Martindale-Hubbell (2000-2024)