On the Rise: Randall M. Kessler

By Richmond Eustis

A list of Randall M. Kessler’s clients reads like a roster of people who claim celebrities have done them wrong.

Kessler represented R&B star Keith Sweat’s former girlfriend in a custody action. He has helped the ex-wife of Atlanta Hawks all-star Eddie Johnson pursue $144,000 in overdue child support. He even handled a personal injury suit against Atlanta Falcons tackle Bob Whitfield by Whitfield’s ex-girlfriend.

Most recently, the 39-year-old Kessler succeeded in persuading DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Becker to hold former Falcons receiver Andre Rison in contempt for failing to make $52,000 in back child support payments to his former girlfriend, Raycoa Handley (Daily Report, June 20, 2001).

But Kessler, who practices with his partner Barry Schwarz at Kessler/Schwarz, doesn’t limit himself to helping celebrities open their wallets to former spouses and lovers. He also takes cases that involve unknown people, and aspects of family law he considers important.

Most recently, he represented Decatur resident Carnell A. Smith in his fight to change Georgia’s law requiring men to support children whose mothers have tricked them into believing they fathered another man’s offspring. The case has failed in the trial court, state Court of Appeals, and state Supreme Court, but Kessler thinks it may be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Daily Report, May 6, 2002).

In another recent case, Kessler won a $1.7 million alimony award for a man whose wife didn’t want to share her $15 million Georgia Lottery winnings. Atlanta lawyer R. Keegan Federal Jr., who was on the other side of that case, said Kessler won his respect. “He does things the old-fashioned way-as a gentleman,” Federal said. “I could take him on his word and a handshake.”

Kessler graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in political science, and received his law degree from Emory University School of Law. He is chairman of the American Bar Association Family Law Section’s Family Law Committee. Kessler has written several articles and participated in scores of seminars on the subject of family law and divorce litigation.

Kessler began work with Weinstock & Montalto, and when that firm split, joined Montalto. He left that firm to go out on his own in 1991, and shared office space with Atlanta lawyer Benjamin Landey for a few years before forming his own firm.
In law school Kessler focused on international law, but eventually discarded that pursuit in favor of family practice.

“I knew there were only so many jobs open at the U.N.,” he said.

Family law drew Kessler’s attention, he said, because “you get to help the best people when they’re at their worst.”