Michael Thurmond

Office Location

Atlanta, Georgia


University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina
  • J.D.

Paine College
  • Honors: With Honors
  • Major: Philosophy
  • Major: Religion

Michael Thurmond

404-321-1700, 800-233-4086

Michael Thurmond currently is on leave from the law firm of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, LLP to the DeKalb County School System, the third largest in Georgia, where he serves as Superintendent of the DeKalb School System. Initially, Mike agreed to serve temporarily as DeKalb's interim superintendent to bring stability and order to the system. Because of the excellent job he was doing and at the special request of the School Board, Mike agreed to continue to serve as superintendent for an additional period of time. The firm graciously allowed him an additional leave of absence so he could fulfill this civic duty. Upon completing his service at the DeKalb County School System, Michael Thurmond will be returning to the practice of law full time at Butler Wooten & Fryhofer. 

Michael Thurmond is an attorney at Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, a nationally known civil trial practice firm that has four times set the record civil jury verdict in the State of Georgia and also obtained for its client the largest collected judgment in U.S. history. He has distinguished himself as an attorney, author, lecturer and public servant.

Thurmond graduated with honors from Paine College with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religion and later earned a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina's School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. During his legislative tenure, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to Georgia's senior citizens and working families.

Following his tenure in the legislature, Thurmond was called upon to direct Georgia's historic transition from welfare to work. He created the innovative Workfirst program, which has helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce, saving more than $100 million in tax dollars that have been reinvested in childcare, training and other support services.

In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The following year, he was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner.

During his three terms as labor commissioner, the Labor Department went under a significant transformation in customer service and efficiency. Unemployment offices were transformed into state-of-the-art Career Centers focused on getting jobless Georgians back to work as quickly as possible.

Thurmond's latest book, Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865, was awarded the Georgia Historical Society's Lilla Hawes Award and the Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgians Should Read. He presently serves on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.

Thurmond is a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens. He and his wife Zola are the proud parents of a daughter, Mikaya.

Published Works

  • Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865


  • Lecturer, University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government, 1997

Honors and Awards

  • First African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County, 1986

Past Employment Positions

  • Georgia Labor Commissioner, 1998 - 2000

Pro Bono Activities

  • Board of Curators, Georgia Historical Society
  • Member, Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens