S. Derek Johnson-Gage, Esq.
An Atlantan for more than fifteen years, I have been practicing law in Georgia for over a decade. I earned a Bachelors Degree at The University of Maryland, College Park and later attended law school at Emory University School of Law, where I graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 2003. After earning my law degree, I clerked for criminal defense attorney Brian Steel in a variety of high profile cases before continuing my practice of law as a trial litigator and estate planner; the last several years with The Gage Law Firm, specializing in criminal and probate cases involving mental illness.
I am sworn into Georgia's Superior Courts, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Georgia Supreme Court and I am admitted to practice law in any court of our State.
My mission as an attorney and business owner is to provide the most educated and sound advice to my clients while being immediately responsive to their needs. By putting your trust in my firm, you can be certain that:
I don't make impossible promises for the sake of getting a case--the only promises I make are to work tirelessly to get you the results you deserve and to be available to you for counsel and advice at all times.
I encourage you to voice questions and concerns and always respond to client calls and emails as quickly as I am able.
I constantly read the latest changes in the case law and statutes to ensure I'm giving my clients the most accurate advice possible.
It is my aim to be as close to a friend and family member as an attorney can be and for you to know that the advice I provide you is given genuinely with your best interests in mind.
Since becoming a private litigator, my firm has been featured at national conferences on matters of mental illness and the law, as well as on the law as it relates to estate planning and the LGBT community. In 2014, I was a featured speaker at the American Cancer Society's national conference in Atlanta, where I spoke on issues regarding LGBT families and the challenges they faced in estate planning.
In 2015, I was a panel speaker for the American Bar Association's national conference on Mental Illness and Crime, where attorneys from around the country participated in a discussion of where mental illness intersects an antiquated criminal justice system.
I have been quoted by news organizations such as USA Today, WABE's Morning Edition, and 11Alive, Atlanta's NBC affiliate.
I have spent years defending clients against a variety of criminal charges, from hundreds of DUI and drug cases to major felonies, including rape, sex offenses, and cases involving the loss of life. My passion for defending those accused with crimes has been the backbone of my decade-plus career in law. I take great pride in also defending the criminally accused who suffer from mental illness, as these individuals face a legal system that is often astoundingly ignorant of mental disorders. I have both personal and professional experience helping the mentally ill and have dedicated much of my career to doing so.
I have made it my life's work to help the mentally ill in circumstances where they have been swept into the criminal justice system, representing mentally ill defendants in more than 800 criminal cases over the span of my career. During my tenure in indigent defense, I helped create a special unit dedicated to advocacy for the mentally ill in the criminal courtroom and assisted the same clients in obtaining services in the community incident to the resolution of their cases. As a result, I have built a strong repertoire of resources for my clients in the community and have built lasting relationships with prosecutors who understand my aims. I feel strongly that labeling the mentally ill "criminals" is a grave injustice fueled by ignorance, and I work tirelessly to battle this stigma and give my clients the dignity of which they are often deprived as defendants in a criminal case.My mission, to the best of my abilities, is to see my clients through their criminal charges without sustaining a conviction on their record, and to help place them on a path to sustained maintenance of their illness and no further interaction with the criminal justice system. In order to achieve these goals, I must develop strong relationships with my clients and build lasting rapport not only with them, but with judges and prosecutors involved in their cases, as well. I build connections with my clients unlike many other lawyer-client relationships, and I have a keen interest in their successes well after their cases have been resolved. Consequently, I maintain contact with clients and their families, in some cases years after my formal representation has ended.
I have also made exhaustive efforts to provide the most comprehensive estate planning services in our community. I've made special efforts to address the needs of Georgia's LGBT community both prior to, and in the wake of, the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions of Windsorand Obergefell. I make it a priority to stay on top of changes in the law and to provide my clients with the information and understanding essential to a solid estate plan, without pressuring them to pay for unnecessary services.
I am thrilled to support Atlanta's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. I am a proud member of Georgia's Stonewall Bar Association, which is united in its advocacy for LGBT causes in Georgia. My philosophy has been, and always will be, to treat each and every client with respect and dignity regardless of their identity or ideology, answering questions and concerns whenever needed, and always providing the most comprehensive advice possible--never making a client feel pressured.