Marvene T. Brooks is a retired educator who worked previously with the Ware County School System as a high school teacher, school counselor, and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services. During her education career, she earned Bachelors, Masters and Specialist degrees in math education and additional degrees in counseling and leadership. Marvene joined Harben & Hartley in 2000 as a non-attorney education specialist. She presently devotes much of her time to assisting local school systems in the area of policy development.
Phillip L. Hartley graduated with honors from the University of Georgia in 1976 and then obtained his J.D. degree with honors from the University of Georgia Law School in 1979. He was a member of the Georgia Law Review, Order of the Coif and Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, he immediately began to practice law, including representing school districts, and in 1980, he became a founding partner in the law firm of Harben & Hartley. He has served as lead counsel in numerous cases involving Georgia’s school districts in the federal and state courts. He serves as an officer of the National Council of School Attorneys. In the firm’s capacity as general counsel to the Georgia School Boards Association, he works closely with GSBA, the Georgia School Superintendents Association and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders to respond to and shape legislative and policy issues that affect public education in the state. Known for presentations on school law to a wide variety of audiences, he has also written extensively on school law topics.
J. Stanley Hawkins graduated with honors from Florida State University in 1971 where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his J.D. with honors from the University Of Georgia School Of Law where he was an editor of the Law Review. Mr. Hawkins was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1974. The early part of his career was largely devoted to federal civil litigation throughout the country with law firms in Atlanta and New York. Since 1986, when he joined the Decatur firm of Weekes & Candler, Mr. Hawkins has represented Georgia school districts. In the spring of 2008, Weekes & Candler merged with Harben & Hartley, of Gainesville, forming the firm Harben, Hartley, & Hawkins, LLP. Stan is retired from the full-time practice of law.
Cory O. Kirby graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in History and Religion in 1992 and a M.Ed. in Higher Education in 1995. He received his J.D. degree in 2000 from the University of South Carolina. Before pursuing a legal career, Mr. Kirby worked in higher education, including serving as an Associate Dean for Student Services at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia. Mr. Kirby joined Harben & Hartley in 2000 and has represented public school districts throughout his legal career. In addition to membership in the National Council of School Attorneys and the Georgia Council of School Attorneys, shared with all other attorneys in the firm, Mr. Kirby is a member of the National Bond Lawyers Association.
Beth Morris graduated, with honors, from the University of Georgia with a B.A. degree in 1999. She then received her J.D. degree from the University of Georgia in 2005, where she graduated with honors and served on the Moot Court team and executive board. She joined Harben & Hartley upon graduation from law school and has represented school districts throughout her legal career. While Beth represents school districts in a variety of matters, much of her practice has focused on issues involving children with disabilities. Her practice has included state and federal litigation, personnel matters, transactional matters and administrative complaints involving the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, and EEOC. Beth conducts trainings state wide and works closely with the Georgia Council of Administrators of Special Education and serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Child Protection and Advocacy Committee of the State Bar of Georgia.
Hieu M. Nguyen attended Vanderbilt University and received his B.A. in English and Philosophy in 1994. He later received his M.A. in English in 1997 and then a M.Ed. in 1998, both from Vanderbilt. He taught in the Gwinnett County School System for 5 years before going to law school. He received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 2006 and joined Harben & Hartley after graduation. He manages the firm’s litigation practice and has served as lead counsel in numerous cases involving Georgia’s school districts in the federal and state courts.
Apu primarily focuses on the firm’s federal and state litigation, representing school districts in matters as varied as employment litigation, civil rights cases, contract disputes and personal injury suits. He joined Harben, Hartley and Hawkins in 2018 as a seasoned litigator. Prior to joining the firm, Apu was a partner in a boutique trial practice representing individual and corporate clients in commercial disputes, fiduciary and professional liability cases, securities litigation and civil rights matters in federal and state courts across the country. Apu obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, with a dual major in Philosophy and English. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2002.
Reagan G. Sauls obtained a B.S. degree in political science from Georgia Southern University in 1999 and then her J.D. degree from American University, Washington College of Law in 2002. Early in her career she practiced with the United States Department of Justice and with private firms in Virginia and Atlanta. She began representing school districts in Georgia in 2006. In 2009, she was awarded the distinction of being named a Rising Star attorney. She handles a broad variety of matters including, but not limited to, personnel matters and hearings, responding to Department of Education complaints both state and federal, address allegations of discrimination complaints through Office of Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, special education litigation and advising boards of education on policies and procedures. Her practice has included cases before both state and federal courts, along with administrative law judges. She provides training on all legal issues that are pertinent to educators and speaks on a regular basis at many conferences across the State. She works closely with GCASE to keep their members informed of legal issues.
Brian C. Smith graduated from the University of Georgia in 2001 with a B.A. in criminal justice and sociology, and obtained his J.D. degree from the University of Georgia Law School in 2004 where he served on the Editorial Board and as Senior Articles Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law. He joined Harben & Hartley after law school. He has served as lead counsel in numerous cases involving Georgia’s school districts in the federal and state courts and has represented school districts in a variety of areas, including student discipline and personnel-related matters.
Sam S. Harben, Jr. (Retired)
Sam S. Harben, Jr. earned his J.D. degree from the University of Georgia Law School in 1961 and represented Georgia school districts for over 50 years. He was a founding partner in the law firm of Harben & Hartley in 1980 . Exemplifying the national reputation of the firm, Mr. Harben served as Chair of the National Council of School Attorneys for 2008-09, for 10 years on the Board of Directors of that Council and one year on the National School Boards Association’s Board of Directors. In Georgia, he held many leadership roles, including President of the State Bar’s Section on School Law. He has taught school law as an adjunct professor for several institutions and was well known for seminars and staff development throughout the state and nation for board members and administrators. Sam has retired from the active practice of school law, but continues as a valuable resource to the firm.
Martha M. Pearson (Retired)
Martha M. Pearson graduated with honors from Vassar College in 1975 with a B.A. in Political Science, and from the University of Georgia Law School with honors in 1979 where she was a member of the Order of the Coif. In 1980, she began private practice in Athens, Georgia with an emphasis on civil rights law including handling cases related to education law. In 1990, she joined Harben & Hartley and represented school districts for the rest of her career. She supervised the firm’s litigation practice and served as lead counsel in numerous cases involving Georgia’s school districts in the federal and state courts. She has retired from the active practice with the firm but continues as a valuable resource.