Skip to main content

Michael L. Thurmond

also known as Mike Thurmond

About Me

Michael Thurmond is an attorney at Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, a nationally known civil trial practice firm that has four times set the record civil jury verdict in the State of Georgia and also obtained for its client the largest collected judgment in U.S. history.


He has distinguished himself as an attorney, author, lecturer and public servant.

Thurmond graduated with honors from Paine College with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religion and later earned a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina's School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. During his legislative tenure, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to Georgia's senior citizens and working families.


Following his tenure in the legislature, Thurmond was called upon to direct Georgia's historic transition from welfare to work. He created the innovative Workfirst program, which has helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce, saving more than $100 million in tax dollars that have been reinvested in childcare, training and other support services.


In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The following year, he was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner.


During his three terms as labor commissioner, the Labor Department went under a significant transformation in customer service and efficiency. Unemployment offices were transformed into state-of-the-art Career Centers focused on getting jobless Georgians back to work as quickly as possible.


Thurmond took a two-year leave from BWCP to serve as Superintendent to the DeKalb County School System, the third largest in Georgia.  He did a tremendous job in this capacity. Thurmond helped turn the troubled school district around with graduation rates rising from 57% to 62% in 2014 and turning the $14 million deficit into an $80 million surplus. He was quoted saying, “I’m a better person now than I was Feb. 8, 2013. I spent 35, 40 years in politics. From a very young man, I spent time with my eyes firmly fixed on the next election, even when I won. Here in DeKalb, I’ve been granted the privilege of focusing on the next generation. That’s so much more rewarding to me."


Thurmond's latest book, Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865, was awarded the Georgia Historical Society's Lilla Hawes Award and the Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgians Should Read. He presently serves on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.


Thurmond is a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens. He and his wife Zola are the proud parents of a daughter, Mikaya.


Photos and Videos

536189 1441034990

536189 1440783034

Practice Areas


  1. Defective and Dangerous Products: 25%
  2. Wrongful Death: 25%
  3. Trucking Accident: 25%
  4. Car Accidents: 25%



Free Consultation (60 minutes)

Attorney Endorsements

6 total 

  • Joel O. Wooten Jr.

    Mike is an outstanding attorney and he works extremely hard to maximize the recovery for every client he represents.


    Joel Wooten Trucking Accident Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

  • Tedra Cannella Hobson

    Anyone who has seen Mike in action knows he is excellent at getting results. He has incredible instinct and judgment that are huge assets to his clients. He is trustworthy and dedicated.


    Tedra Hobson Car Accidents Attorney
    Relationship: Worked together on matter

Contact Info

Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP

2719 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA, 30324


GAActive Member in Good Standing 197809/08/2015

Professional Misconduct

We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo Contributions
Legal Answers
Award NameGrantorDate Granted
Inductee to the 2015 Gate City Bar Hall of FameGate City Bar Association2015
Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential GeorgiansGeorgia Trend2014
Man of the Year Law & Justice AwardMen Looking Ahead Magazine2013
Work Experience
TitleCompany NameDuration
Interim SuperintendentDeKalb County School System2013 - 2015
Labor CommissionerState Of Georgia1998 - 2010
Association NamePosition NameDuration
Georgia Association of Black Women AttorneysMember2012 - Present
Gate City Bar AssociationMemberN/A
Georgia Trial Lawyers AssociationMemberN/A
Georgia Hisorical Society Board of CuratorsMemberN/A
Legal Cases
Case NameOutcome
Perlotte, et al v. Harrison Poultry et al.Cash Settlement--$8,000,000
Burns v. JB TruckingVerdict $3.25 million
Black v. USF HollandConfidential Settlement
See all Legal Cases 
Publication NameTitleDate
Longstreet Press, Inc.Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-18652002
School NameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of South CarolinaLawlaw1978
Paine CollegePhilosophy and ReligionBA - Bachelor of Arts1975
Speaking Engagements
Conference NameTitleDate
Education DayEducation Day for Leadership DeKalb2014
Murder, Politics and Scandal: Famous Cases and Characters of the Athens Bar and Beyond“Pioneers: African-American Lawyers in Georgia”2013
Eggs & IssuesInterim Superintendent Michael Thurmond shares his vision for revitalizing DeKalb Co. School System2013
Leadership Gwinnett RetreatLeadership Gwinnett Keynote Speaker2012
GTLA Holiday WorkshopHow the Media Can Help or Hurt Your Case2012
University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of GovernmentLecturer University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government1997
University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of GovernmentLecturer University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government1997