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Forbes & Fortune


Fighting for Fairness

Holly Waltman leverages every resource in her mission to defend the accused.

There are two things defense attorney Holly Waltman wants you to know: First, if accused of a crime, never speak to government authorities before contacting a lawyer—even if you are innocent. Second, hire an attorney who’s skilled, experienced, and passionate—and do it quickly. “A lot of attorneys will wait until the state presents evidence. I take the opposite approach,” she says. “As soon as I know the government is interested in speaking to a potential client, we start the work of building our defenses and assembling a team of experts and witnesses.” Waltman knew she was destined for defense from the moment she first entered a courtroom. “To stand next to someone and be their voice against the government is a powerful privilege,” she says. She embarked into private practice after several years as a public defender, having finished law school while at a busy metro Atlanta District Attorney’s office.

Satisfying Success

While it’s impossible to expect an ideal verdict in every case, Waltman says there’s plenty of room to find victory within the gray areas of the law. Setting clear expectations and communicating frequently with clients goes a long way in preparing them for all possible outcomes, as well as the duration of the journey ahead. For some cases, that means several years. “Hollywood has glamorized trials to have satisfying results in 60-minute segments, but you can’t do these cases fast. You have to do them right, which requires tenacity and resilience,” Waltman says. Success, to her, is when she’s exhausted every resource and every relationship to clear her clients of bogus or trumped-up charges or minimize the consequences of their mistakes. She’s done her job well when her clients feel heard, understood, and championed by an attorney who has their very best interests at heart.

Justice in Action

Today, The Waltman Firm advocates for the accused in all matters of criminal defense, from DUIs and domestic abuse allegations to drug charges and sex crimes. “Very few attorneys take sex cases because the stakes are so high,” Waltman acknowledges, “but these allegations ruin people’s lives, and I want to be their voice and protect their rights.” In the highly publicized case of State of Georgia v. Kelley Eugene Pilcher, who faced life in prison over a false rape allegation, Waltman was able to demonstrate conflicts in testimony about the events of the evening countless times. Based on those doubts, Pilcher was acquitted by a jury of 12 on all charges in less than an hour. “These cases are

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  difficult, scientific, and complicated,” says Waltman. “It’s generally one person’s word against another; there’s typically no other eyewitnesses, like with a bank robbery or carjacking.”

Though based in metro Atlanta, Waltman’s compassion is not limited by geography. She puts her own comfort and convenience aside to intentionally seek cases in counties throughout the state, fighting for the most vulnerable populations. A career goal, she says, is to represent clients in all 159 Georgia counties before she retires. “I sleep soundly knowing that I’m putting to use an outward expression of the talents God has given me to vindicate clients during the hardest times in their lives,” Waltman concludes.