Familiar place of business

Nathan Jolles' law office reflects the things that are important to him.


On his desk sits a picture of his deceased father, Howard P. Jolles, and a small bulldog figurine passed down by grandfather Nathan M. Jolles. The dog, marked with his grandfather's hand-carved initials, is a symbol of the family's legacy at the University of Georgia and a tribute to its beloved mascot.

The walls are lined with reminders of his trip to Israel with his synagogue, Walton Way Temple Congregation Children of Israel, a defining moment in his faith.

In his conference room are the most cherished mementos of all -- photographs of his wife, Lauren, and 7-month-old daughter, Emily.

Mr. Jolles, 46, is a man of family, faith and charity, and is known to many as a third-generation Augusta lawyer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, in addition to his uncle Isaac "Buddy" Jolles, a Richmond County probate judge.

He has practiced real estate law for 19 years, the past eight at his own firm, The Law Offices of Nathan M. Jolles PC, which represents clients such as developers, builders and realty companies.

Mr. Jolles is an "approved attorney" for 14 major banks and financial institutions and several title companies, helping close about 500 home sales a year, in addition to refinancings and second mortgages. He also handles family and estate law cases.

Though he is busy in the office, charitable work is paramount in his life. Whether volunteering with the Augusta chapter of Ambucs, the Master's Table soup kitchen, the East Central Georgia Partners in Homeownership or his temple, Mr. Jolles has a reputation for getting the job done.

"He's a great guy. He's one of those individuals who can't stop giving," said Elliott Price, a president at Walton Way Temple, who has known Mr. Jolles for 22 years.

The men became friends through the synagogue and were part of a committee to find a new rabbi for the congregation several years ago. They often joke about their undergraduate rivalries -- Mr. Jolles is a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan, and Mr. Price is an alumnus of Georgia Tech.

Mr. Price said Mr. Jolles comes across as being reserved, though he has a great sense of humor and is a sincere listener.

"He's very committed and dedicated and just has a good heart," Mr. Price said.

Scales of justice

Born and reared in Augusta in the 1960s, Mr. Jolles and his brothers, Alan and Steven, grew up around their father's successful courtroom career and law practice.

Parents Howard and Bernice Jolles taught their sons the importance of education, and their mother made sure they maintained good grades and studied hard. Mr. Jolles says he owes much of his success to the "unsung" work of his mother. She was the "typical Jewish mother," making sure her children were well-fed and healthy.

He never knew his grandfather, for whom he is named; his ancestor died of a heart attack in 1952 on the steps of the Richmond County courthouse. Mr. Jolles often heard stories about his accomplishments, however, including being the first lawyer in the family and teaching at the now-defunct Augusta Law School.

Mr. Jolles' uncle Isaac affectionately recalls that his nephew was quite the scholar. He said that around age 8, Nathan showed his intelligence and initiative by producing a small newspaper.

"The circulation was his immediate household," his uncle said.

Mr. Jolles' older cousin, Henry Miller, a lawyer in New Orleans, often visited during the many family gatherings and trips they made on summer breaks. Mr. Miller says his cousin was a happy child.

"He was always easy-going and smiling," his cousin said.

He remembers the day their grandfather's longtime employee, Lillian "Dilly" Hope, saved Nathan's life. The cousins were standing in the kitchen and Nathan's father had just replaced a light bulb. The light fixture remained loose, and Nathan, then 3 or 4 years old, ran through the kitchen to hug Dilly, who had just entered the room.

"As he was running, the light fixture's glass just fell straight down where he was standing," Mr. Miller said. "If Dilly had not walked into the room and he ran over to her, he would have been hit in the head. It would have probably killed him."

As a young man, Nathan grew interested in law, and at age 15, he began working in his father's law office during school breaks, delivering deeds and documents to the courthouse and loan paperwork to mortgage companies .

He said he learned his work ethic by observing his father, who had to work three jobs to make ends meet for his family after his own father died one week before his graduation from law school at the University of Georgia.

"He said that was one of the most difficult times of his life," Mr. Jolles said, adding that his father worked in private practice, as a law professor at Augusta Law School and as an assistant solicitor general, which is today known as an assistant district attorney.

"Things were so tight that my father claimed that he did his own typing. For the longest time, I didn't believe him," Mr. Jolles said of his dad, who typed the initials HPJ/JM on all his documents: Howard P. Jolles/Just Me.

"He instilled in me a work ethic that you do whatever it takes to provide for your family," Nathan Jolles said.

Some of his fondest memories are attending UGA football games with his father, whom he continued to work for between schools as a title examiner. After graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, he joined the practice full time on passing the bar exam in 1989.

"It was kind of a natural fit," said Mr. Jolles, adding that he never considered any other career. "I grew up around law all my life

"I also wanted to do something where I could give back to my community."

Danny Craig, the district attorney in the Augusta Judicial Circuit and soon-to-be Superior Court judge, also started his law career with Mr. Jolles' father, often accompanying the father and son to football games.

Mr. Craig remembers that Mr. Jolles was a hard worker early on, and even wrote a recommendation letter for Mr. Jolles' admission into the Mercer law school in Macon.

"For a young person, he had quite a comfort level with the environment of a law office," the district attorney said. "He had the advantage of observing of his father interrelate with clients and observe the work ethic that it took to operate a successful law practice."

Mr. Craig considers Mr. Jolles' father to be like a second father to him, and also enjoyed working with his longtime partner, Otis Harrison.

"I have the fondest memories of working with both of them," Mr. Craig said. "They were the epitome of Southern gentlemen and professionals."

Laying down law

Mr. Jolles worked with his father for three years before his death from a heart attack in 1992. He said his only regret is that he didn't ask his father, who practiced for 40 years, more questions.

He continued working at the practice with Mr. Harrison for several years before he incorporated it into his own name in 2000.

Mr. Jolles performed indigent-defense work and handled criminal defense cases for about 10 years before frustration with criminal recidivism made him quit to follow his father's career path in real estate and family law. In his current practice, he says, he can't take contested matters in front of his uncle.

He has had some comical moments in the profession, such as when his client forgot to wear pants to a trial, instead wearing shorts, and insisted that Mr. Jolles switch clothes with him.

"I was a little flabbergasted with his suggestion," Mr. Jolles said, laughing.

Through the years, he has adhered to his grandfather's legal philosophy.

"He believed that you get more flies with honey than vinegar," said the lawyer, who often visits clients in hospitals and nursing homes to ensure that their wills or powers of attorney are executed. "Sometimes you've got to be willing to reach out."

Politics is a passion for him, going back to when he helped work on his father's unsuccessful campaign for City Court judge in Richmond County in 1968. He also worked for his uncle's successful run for probate judge in 1998 and campaigned for former classmate and Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox.

He says that he wouldn't mind entering the political arena himself someday.

"If the right opportunity came up at the right time, certainly I could see myself running for political office," he said.

The family has other interesting connections to politics. Former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders was working as an elementary school crossing guard when he gave Mr. Jolles' grandfather a speeding ticket as he was taking his children to school. His grandfather had to appear in court but didn't hold a grudge.

Years later, when the crossing guard became a young lawyer, it was Mr. Jolles' grandfather who frequently gave Mr. Sanders a ride home from work, often stopping at Sunshine Bakery to buy a loaf of bread for his family and for Mr. Sanders and his wife.

Mr. Jolles' uncle's first job was practicing with Mr. Sanders' law firm. After becoming governor, Mr. Sanders mentioned the relationship with the Jolles family in his book.

A life of service

"In the Jewish faith, more important than what you say is what you do," Mr. Jolles said. This is referred to as "deed versus creed."

"I believe we all have a civic obligation to give back," he said.

Among his many civic involvements, Mr. Jolles is a member of the Walton Way Temple Brotherhood, a group of men in the congregation who complete service projects, also known as "mitzvahs" or good deeds.

The brotherhood assists with cleanups, provides moving assistance and drives elderly members of the congregation to services, among other duties.

Mr. Price said Mr. Jolles often speaks at meetings on legal aspects of Judaism such as living wills.

"He's also very helpful with fundraising for our congregation. He's taken some really strong leadership," he said.

For his faithful service, Mr. Jolles was named the Walton Way Temple Brotherhood Man of the Year in 1996. The award is reserved for those who go above and beyond in service, Mr. Price said.

Mr. Jolles' parents and grandparents were also active in the synagogue, and in 2006, his mother was named the Walton Way Temple Sisterhood Woman of the Year.

Outside of his temple, Mr. Jolles is one of the leading fundraisers for Ambucs, the civic group formerly known as the American Business Clubs, which gives therapeutic tricycles to handicapped children and provides scholarships to physical therapists.

Matt Trainor, the Southern Region director for the National Ambucs, has worked with Mr. Jolles for five years in the Augusta chapter of Ambucs, where he has received the club's highest honors for assisting with projects such as the handicapped bowling league or ramp building projects.

He is the leading ticket-seller for the annual fundraiser, Mr. Trainor said.

"Any time we have a community service event, he's always more than willing to help us out," Mr. Trainor said.

Family man

Mr. Jolles' friends describe him as a family man, though he started his family later in life.

He said he married late because he was busy with work and his service activities and also because he had limited himself to finding someone in the immediate area.

He had considered moving to Atlanta because there were so few dating opportunities here, he said.

He met his future wife, Lauren, a native New Yorker, at a Jewish singles retreat in Aruba, a trip that neither initially wanted to take. They hit if off immediately but, being in their 40s, were unsure whether they would ever marry.

The doubts ended when they wed May 25, 2005, in a traditional Jewish ceremony at the temple where he had attended religious classes since kindergarten.

"They're two people matched in heaven," Mr. Price said. "They're both so sincere and caring. If you know one, you would know both."

In the summer of 2007 the couple welcomed a daughter, Emily.

"It's so wonderful to see them happily married and watch him as a father," Walton Way Temple Rabbi Robert Klensin said.

He can't imagine life without his family, Mr. Jolles said.

"They've helped me put into perspective what's important," he said. "Once you have a child, it opens your eyes. It makes life meaningful. It gives you something to live for."

If his daughter enters the law profession, she would become a fourth-generation lawyer. Mr. Jolles says that he'll be happy with whatever career path she chooses, so long as it's honorable and she enjoys what she does.

Though he works diligently to balance his family and career, Mr. Jolles says he loves the law.

"There's never a dull moment. When a client comes through the door, you never know what kind of case you're going to handle," he said.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.


BORN: Aug. 24, 1961, in Augusta

TITLE: LAWYER , owner of Law Offices of Nathan M. Jolles PC

EDUCATION: University of Georgia, bachelor's degree in political science; Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, juris doctorate

FAMILY: Wife, Lauren, and daughter, Emily

CIVIC: Member and past president of the Walton Way Temple Board; member and former president, vice president and secretary of the Walton Way Temple Brotherhood; member and past vice president of membership, president-elect and president of the Augusta chapter of Ambucs

AWARDS: Include Outstanding Young Man of America in 1988, Augusta chapter Ambuc of the Year for 1993-94, District 1-D Ambuc of the Year for 1993-94, Walton Way Temple Brotherhood Man of Year for 1996

HOBBIES: Volunteer work at Master's Table soup kitchen and Walton Way Temple Congregation Children of Israel, watching movies, cooking, playing with his daughter



BORN: Dec. 24, 1901, in Washington, Ga.

DIED: May 24, 1952

EDUCATION: Undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia, University of Georgia Law School

PROFESSIONAL: Member of the Superior Court solicitor's staff, professor at Augusta Law School, solo private practice, member and past treasurer of Augusta Bar Association

FAMILY: Wife, Dorothy, and children Howard, Isaac, and Natalie

CIVIC: Member of the Congregation Children of Israel board of trustees, president of the Congregation Children of Israel Temple Brotherhood, member of the Elk's Lodge, Sphinx and Phi Kappa fraternities



BORN: Aug. 18, 1930, in Augusta

DIED: Feb. 27, 1992

EDUCATION: Junior College of Augusta, University of Georgia, LLB degree

PROFESSIONAL: Assistant solicitor general of the Augusta Judicial Circuit for 12 years, former instructor and acting president of Augusta Law School, partner in the law firm of Harrison & Jolles, member and secretary of Augusta Bar Association, Augusta Circuit Bar Association, Georgia Bar Association, and American Bar Association

FAMILY: Wife, Bernice, and three sons, Nathan, Alan and Steven

CIVIC: Past vice president of the Augusta Jaycees; Outstanding Jaycee in 1955-56; member of the Elks Lodge; Augusta chapter of the American Red Cross board of directors; helped to start the annual hot dog Luncheon for the Augusta Judicial Circuit in 1990



BORN: Dec. 13, 1931, in Augusta

TITLE: Probate Judge in Richmond County since 1998

EDUCATION: Augusta Junior College (now Augusta State University), cum laude graduate of University of Georgia Law School

PROFESSIONAL: Judge Advocate General Corps of the Army from 1954-57; served as trial counsel in general courts-martial during a 16-month tour of duty in Korea; started private practice in 1970, Jolles and Slabey; judge of the Recorders Court of Augusta from 1973-81; member of the State Bar of Georgia, American Bar Association, and Georgia Trial Lawyers

FAMILY: Wife, Myra, and children Scott, Marcy and Jonathan

CIVIC: Member and past president of the Walton Way Temple Congregation Children of Israel board, president-elect and president of Lion's Club Association



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