SUWANEE -- A familiar face in Gwinnett legal circles is beginning a new job with the city of Suwanee.
Kristal Holmes, a Gary, Ind., native, was appointed to fill the vacant solicitor position last week.
Holmes' Gwinnett connections began about 10 years ago when she prosecuted criminal cases that ranged from driving under the influence, to drug and traffic offenses, family violence battery and vehicular homicide. Holmes said she considered that a milestone point in her career after it began at the City Court of Atlanta under Judge Lenwood A. Jackson.
"I never thought I would end up in Gwinnett, and when they hired me at the solicitor's office, it was the best experience I ever had," said Holmes, a Stone Mountain resident who graduated from Spelman College and Emory University School of Law. "I really feel like that began to shape my career as an attorney. The people were just so professional and really took an interest."
As a solicitor, Holmes will handle misdemeanor traffic offenses, such as following too closely, speeding and DUI.
In 2005, Holmes joined the Lawrenceville law firm of Sliz, McKinney and Drake, where she practiced criminal defense and family law. In 2006, Holmes started her own law firm where she continued to practice in those areas, along with bankruptcy, general civil litigation and personal injury. She also was a public defender for the city of Stone Mountain and the city of Pine Lake.
Working in family law, Holmes said she sees helping clients as a tremendous duty.
"Often they look to the attorney almost as their counselor, which is not their job, but we have to be very sensitive about that," said Holmes, who will continue her practice while she serves in the part-time role with the city. "I find that to be rewarding, helping people who really need help. Sometimes there's situations involving children and custody fights where people really need help."
Holmes got the solicitor's itch, she said, when she visited municipalities and thought, "Gosh, it would be cool to get one of those jobs and get back into prosecutions, because I really enjoyed it when I worked for Gwinnett. Especially in the recorders court division. So I'm excited to get back."
Holmes scaled back her case load a couple of years ago when she became pregnant with her first child, a now nearly 16-month old daughter, Honor.
"I wanted to be there as much as I could with her, so I stopped taking as many cases shortly before I had her and after I had her," Holmes said. "Now she's a year old, I'm ready to get back to work.