Michael H. Trotter is the author of "Declining Prospects - How Extraordinary Competition and Compensation Are Changing America's Major Law Firms," (CreateSpace, 2012), and of "Profit and the Practice of Law - What's Happened to the Legal Profession," (University of Georgia Press, 1997; reprint, Create Space, 2012), which has become the definitive work on growth and change in the legal profession in America from 1960 to 1995. Articles featuring "Declining Prospects" have appeared in "BusinessWeek," the "New York Times," the "Law Society Gazette," and "Managing Partner" magazine, among others, which can be accessed through his website: trotterlawandeconomics.com.
He is also the author of "Pig in a Poke? The Uncertain Advantages of Very Large and Highly Leveraged Law Firms in America" which appears as the second chapter in "Rise the Bar - Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession," (American Bar Association Press, 2007), and of more than 30 articles and columns on law firm management and related issues in various publications including the "American Bar Association Journal," "The National Law Journal," "The Daily Report," and the "Journal of Southern Legal History." In the early 1990s he taught courses at the Emory University School of Law in law firm economics and management (which apparently were the first such courses taught at a major law school) as well as courses in securities regulation.
Mr. Trotter began his legal career in the summer of 1960 working as a "summer boarder" (following his first year at the Harvard Law School) with the Atlanta law firm of Alston, Sibley, Miller, Spann & Shackelford, a firm of 15 lawyers and the predecessor of Alston & Bird, now the 43rd ranked firm in the Am Law 100 with over 800 lawyers and $644,500,000 of gross revenue. Following his graduation from law school in 1962 he joined the Alston firm as an associate and became a partner in 1967. Prior to attending law school Mr. Trotter graduated from Brown University in 1958 with Distinction in History, cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa) and then attended the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the Ph.D. program in American History. After completing his Master's Degree he transferred to the law school.
During his fifteen years at the Alston Firm he specialized in corporate and securities law and served at various times as chair of the firm's recruiting and its facilities committees and of its Corporate Practice Group. He also served as a member of its Long Term Planning Committee. During this time he became the lawyer principally responsible for the firm's second largest client, the 5th largest real estate investment trust in the United States, and a Trustee of the Trust. The mid-1970's recession imperiled the Trust financially and the Trust discovered that it had substantial claims against its manager, the then largest bank in the Southeastern United States and his firm's largest client. As a result, he had either to withdraw from the firm or from the Trust. His colleagues on the Trust's Board made it clear that they expected him to remain with the Trust and to support its efforts at recovery; the firm on the other hand was unhappy that he had ended up on the "wrong side" of a significant argument with its most important client although the Trust ultimately prevailed in the dispute.
As a result he took the lead in organizing a new law firm, Trotter, Bondurant, Griffin, Miller & Hishon which was recognized by "The American Lawyer" as one of "20 Great New Firms" in its April 1982 edition. Differences among the partners lead him to organize another firm, Trotter Smith & Jacobs that became a firm of approximately 70 lawyers before it succumbed in the early 1990's recession to the bankruptcy of its two largest clients. He then became a partner in Kilpatrick & Cody, the predecessor firm of today's Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton. He retired from the Kilpatrick firm in 2005. In 2009 Taylor English Duma LLP, a "New Model" law firm offered him the opportunity to serve as both a part time practicing lawyer and a law firm management consultant to the firm where he practices law today. He participated in the ABA's "Second Seize the Future" conference in 1999 and its "Raise the Bar" project in 2005. As a result of these varying experiences he has had first-hand experience with many of the challenges of law firm management, operations and economics.
Mr. Trotter has worked on legal projects with many of the nation's leading law firms including Blank Rome; Cahill Gordon; Cleary Gottlieb; Cravath; Davis Polk; Fulbright & Jaworski; Gibson Dunn; King & Spalding; Piper & Marbury; Schulte Roth; Shearman & Sterling; Simpson Thacher; Skadden Arps; Sullivan & Cromwell; Sutherland Asbill; Weil Gotshal; and Wilmer, among others.
He has also been active in civic affairs in Atlanta and in Georgia. He received the "Distinguished Services Award" of the Atlanta Business League in 1986 for his contributions to racial relations in Atlanta, and in 2001 he received the first "Igniting a Passion for Justice" Award of the Southern Regional Council. Mr. Trotter served as Chair of the Agenda Committee and as Co-Secretary of the Atlanta Action Forum, a bi-racial group of Atlanta's business leaders that worked for more than thirty years to guide Atlanta's development as one of America's largest and most progressive urban areas. He was also a principal founder of Good Government Atlanta, Research Atlanta, and the Atlanta Committee for Public Education, and has served as a director of several other civic or social service agencies. He also served as a member of the City of Atlanta's Urban Design Commission, as a Staff Attorney for the Atlanta Commission on Crime & Juvenile Delinquency, and on the Advisory Board to the Clark/Atlanta University Business School.
He was active in Jimmy Carter's successful campaign to become Governor of Georgia and in numerous campaigns for other local and state offices. He served as a member of the Georgia State Planning and Community Affairs Policy Board. He was also a member of the Special Committee appointed by the Federal District Court in the early 1970s to advise the Atlanta School System on the creation and operation of a unitary school system, and was Chair of a Special Committee of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce that studied and reported on the financial condition and prospects of the Atlanta Public Schools in 1992 that led to major and continuing efforts to improve the performance of the Atlanta schools over the subsequent 20 years.
Mr. Trotter served as a Trustee of Brown University and for many years as a member of the Student Life and of the Minority Affairs Committees of the Brown Corporation.