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Emmet Bondurant 

In 1963, Athens native EMMET BONDURANT stood before the U.S. Supreme Court and argued a rather unpopular position: Georgia’s legislative districts favored moneyed whites and therefore needed to be redrawn. The justices agreed, and Bondurant’s career as a champion of the underdog got a running start. He was 26. Now 68, Bondurant has been named one of the nation’s top 10 trial lawyers. In the courtroom, he commonly plays David to Atlanta’s Goliaths, toppling defendants such as Coca-Cola and King & Spalding. Bondurant also spent 11 years on a pro bono case that got an innocent man off Georgia’s death row, and worked for four decades to improve the state’s indigent defense system, which was overhauled by the Legislature in 2003. This year, Bondurant signed on as lead attorney in the fight against Georgia’s newly passed voter ID law, which critics say disenfranchises low-income, elderly and African-American voters. “If it were easy,” Bondurant says, “it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

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