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James E. Coleman, Jr.

In Memoriam

Areas of Practice

"I love being a lawyer because the law is the most beautiful thing you can do. It is about helping people."

James Edwin Coleman, Jr. born May 23, 1923 to Cecelia Thrower Coleman and James Edwin Coleman in Atlanta, Georgia passed away February 22, 2020 in Dallas.

He was in the first grade in Atlanta when the stock market crashed. His family suffered from the crash, like so many, and was forced to move in with his grandparents. At the age of six he had his first job as a “runner” at the local pharmacy delivering prescriptions and other items to people’s cars at the curb. He attended public schools in Atlanta and was active in sports.

Jim enrolled as an engineering student at Georgia Tech on a football scholarship and while in college met the love of his life, Margaret Sutherland. Margaret’s father, William Sutherland, was the founding partner of one of Atlanta’s largest and most influential law firms, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, known today as Eversheds Sutherland.

Jim enlisted in the Army soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a platoon leader and First Lieutenant and fought through Europe with Patton’s Third Army. Jim was involved in heavy combat and received the Silver Star which is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy. At the end of the war, he transferred to Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas where he served until he was released from duty in 1946. It was his first brush with Texas, and he loved it. Upon discharge, Jim went back to Georgia Tech to finish college and, more importantly, married Margaret Sutherland in June 1947.

Jim and Margaret attended the University of Virginia where Jim received his law degree, graduating in 1951 only to be called back into military service due to the Korean War. He served in the Central Intelligence Agency from 1951 to 1953. Jim never spoke a word about this service. In 1953, they moved to Dallas where Jim started practicing law for a starting salary of $200 a month. He soon discovered that he loved trial work.

In 1970 Jim started Carrington Coleman Sloman and Blumenthal, a boutique litigation firm. Over his career, about every award ever presented for professionalism, integrity, community service and justice has been presented to Jim, including being voted the most respected lawyer in Dallas by his peers. In 1996 Jim received the first ever American Inns of Court Circuit Professionalism Award, for any circuit, before an audience including three United States Supreme Court Justices and hundreds of lawyers and judges. He was awarded the Trial Lawyer Award by the Dallas Bar Association in 1997. In 2002 he received the Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award from the American College of Trial Lawyers to honor a lawyer or judge who has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the litigation process. In 2005 he received the Equal Justice Award for serving the legal needs of the poor with distinction. He was the recipient of The Luther H. Soules III Award for Excellence in Litigation in 2008 for his exemplary service and a career to the improvement of the legal profession. In 2013 the Texas Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers awarded him the Joe H. Reynolds Award for his extraordinary achievement and demonstrated excellence in trial advocacy as universally acknowledged by colleagues and whose conspicuous efforts made a positive impact on the community and society. In 2014 he received the Morris Harrell Professionalism Award. In 2015 the Center for International and American Law recognized him for his achievement in the Pursuit of Justice for All. And this week he was inducted as a Texas Legal Legend by the State Bar of Texas. Jim wholeheartedly believed it was an honor and a privilege to be able to call yourself a lawyer. It was his calling, never a job. He also firmly believed that it was a calling open to all, not just males. He was heavily involved in integrating women into the profession in Dallas in the 1970’s, and many of today’s top women lawyers/judges benefitted from his leadership and actions.

Jim’s favorite destination, when he wasn’t in court, was their property in Oklahoma. When Jim and Margaret first started spending time there, they had no running water, heating or air conditioning. When asked how they handled these inconveniences, he said they became insignificant because of the rural beauty in the daytime and star-filled sky at night.

Jim loved nature and was heavily involved with multiple environmental organizations. He also founded the William A. Sutherland Scholarship at the University of Virginia to honor his father-in-law and promote the legal profession.

At almost 97, Jim was the last living representative of his family and was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Lawrence, and his beloved wife of 65 years, Margaret.

He is survived by their three children, Hank Coleman and his wife Janie, Honorable Margaret Sutherland Coleman Keliher and her husband Lester, and Jim Coleman III; and by his grandchildren whom he adored, Katie Coleman, Margaret Sutherland Keliher Hughes, Sarah Jane Coleman Fox, Joseph Keliher, Jim Coleman IV, and Alexander Keliher.

In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made in his honor to Texas Lawyers for Children (P.O. Box 192586 Dallas, Texas 75219), Parkinson’s Voice Project (646 North Coit Road, Suite 2250 Richardson, Texas 75080), ¬†American Rivers (1101 14th Street, NW Suite 1400 Washington, DC 20005), American Inns of Court James E. Coleman, Jr. Professionalism Award (225 Reinekers Lane Suite 770 Alexandria, VA 22314) or a charity of your choice.