John R. Bartholomew is a partner at The Barnes Law Group, LLC. He joined the firm in 2018 after clerking for the Hon. Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. He is a 2008 graduate of Harvard Law School and a 2004 graduate of Denison University.
John began his career at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, a civil non-profit law firm dedicated to equal access to justice. There, he represented low-income and senior citizen clients in consumer rights, real property, constitutional, and administrative law cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts. While he practiced in several areas, he focused most on representing victims of predatory lending against financial institutions during the height of the Great Recession. At Atlanta Legal Aid, he was lead or co-lead counsel in a number of cases where his clients won victories on issues of first impression, including Strickland v. Alexander, 772 F.3d 876 (11th Cir. 2014), where he represented a client with disabilities in the 11th Circuit and Northern District of Georgia in a successful due process challenge that resulted in Georgia’s wage garnishment statute being declared unconstitutional.
Now John specializes in high-stakes complex litigation representing governments, businesses, and individuals. He is co-lead counsel for the State of Georgia in its Opioid Litigation, where he has helped secure more than $850 million in settlements for the State thus far. He has defended judges and elected representatives in criminal, civil, and ethics proceedings. He was part of his firm’s team in the landmark Equifax data breach litigation. And he represented a coalition of affordable housing developers before the Supreme Court of Georgia in critical litigation that preserved the viability of federal and state tax credits as a tool to fund affordable housing in Georgia (Heron Lake II Apartments, LP v. Lowndes County, 306 Ga. 816 (2019)).
John is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia. He is active in the Decatur First United Methodist Church, coaches mock trial at a local high school, and enjoys reading and spending time in the great outdoors.
Co-counsel in Strickland v. Alexander, where he represented a disabled individual in federal trial court and the 11th Circuit in a successful due process challenge to Georgia’s garnishment statute. His client, who lived on a fixed income, had his federally protected benefits garnished and his bank account frozen illegally, causing him to go without his prescription medicines and leading to serious health issues. Following the Strickland case the Georgia legislature revamped the state’s garnishment law to comply with the federal and state constitutional guarantees of due process.
First-in-state decision establishing the right of plaintiffs to sue mortgage companies for consumer law violations under the Georgia Residential Mortgage Act, helped prosecute a successful Administrative Procedures Act challenge to HUD regulations that displaced the surviving spouses of individuals who had federally insured reverse mortgages, and obtained first-in-state and first-in-nation victories on novel issues under the federal Truth in Lending Act and Georgia Fair Lending Act in mortgage and predatory lending litigation.
Member of BLG’s team representing the class of consumers in the multidistrict litigation against Equifax in the most significant data breach case to date in the United States. BLG had a leadership role in steering that litigation and helped obtain a settlement worth $1.5 billion, including at least $380 million in consumer restitution. And John has authored amicus briefs in important appellate cases on behalf of locally and nationally recognized consumer advocacy organizations like the National Consumer Law Center and Georgia Watch.
John successfully defended two investment firms in trial court and at the Georgia Court of Appeals in a suit against them by two real estate development firms who claimed the right to a brokerage commission on a commercial development.
John also obtained a unanimous victory in 2019 at the Supreme Court of Georgia while representing a coalition of affordable housing developers who were sued by a county Board of Tax Assessors regarding their alleged ad valorem tax obligations on properties they developed using federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits. This victory set a critical precedent preserving the financial viability of LIHTC developments, the primary source of new and rehabilitated affordable housing, all over Georgia.
John has also successfully represented businesses, non-profits, and individuals in a variety of contract, employment, insurance, business break up, and other commercial disputes.