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From High School Debates to Criminal Defense, Nick Lotito Has You Covered

By S. Mathur

It all began with a high school debating team, recalls Nick Lotito, attorney at law. As a high school student in Hollywood, Florida, he was asked to join in an interscholastic debate at very short notice. "The debate topic related to nuclear weapons," Lotito recalls, "Knowing nothing about the process, I spent a few hours at his house later that night reviewing his "evidence". The next afternoon, I attempted to debate whether nuclear weapons should be controlled by an international organization. We won, but I was pathetic. I was also hooked. I attended Emory because of debate, and was part of one of the nation's best intercollegiate debate programs, and then coached by Glenn Pelham, a larger than life figure. Law school was a natural progression."

Lotito attended the prestigious University of Virginia Law School where, he says, "I was challenged by excellent professors and fellow students. Unlike some, I enjoyed law school immensely." He worked for six years in the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, Atlanta Field Office.

This experience helped to define his affinity for criminal law, Lotito says, "My work there shaped my later work in private practice. I enjoyed the criminal prosecution component of the job as much as the antitrust subject matter. My work as an antitrust prosecutor taught me skills which I have further developed in private practice, e.g. interviewing witnesses, obtaining and organizing voluminous documents and using the evidence I gather to tell my client's story. Debate training has also been valuable in developing the skills to advocate for my clients."

Lotito attributed his decision to base his practice in Atlanta to two individuals: "... a red pen wielding boss, Don Kinkaid, who edited every written document by attorneys in the office. He honed my writing skills more than anyone else before or since....famed criminal defense lawyer Bobby Lee Cook invited me to a criminal defense seminar put on by the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL)." Lotito and Kisrchenbaum is a 7-lawyer firm with almost all attorneys recognized as Super Lawyers by Reuters or as Legal Elite by Georgia Trend.

Lotito has played leadership roles in the profession and the community, as President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and chair of its Amicus Committee for many years. He has been Chairman and Board member of World Literacy Initiative, a nonprofit working in Africa. Lotito appreciates the opportunities his career has given him.

"I very much continue to enjoy being a criminal defense lawyer. It has given me the opportunity to become friends with outstanding and diverse people in many places. I have been able to teach two to three week courses in Vladivostok, Russia and Rijeka, Croatia. This is a profession where you have the opportunity to make that kind of difference. I am not sure what path I may have chosen had I not gotten that call many years ago about an after school debate, but I am grateful it started me on a path leading to my becoming a criminal defense lawyer."

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