Judge Carla Wong McMillian was appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals by Governor Nathan Deal, taking office on January 24, 2013. Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, she is the first Asian Pacific American state appellate judge ever to be appointed in the Southeast. Upon her election in May 2014, Judge McMillian became the first Asian Pacific American to be elected to a statewide office in Georgia.
Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, Judge McMillian served as the State Court Judge for Fayette County, a position to which she was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2010. In 2012, the voters of Fayette County overwhelming elected her to a full term, making Judge McMillian the first minority woman elected countywide to any office in Fayette County history and the first Asian-American female judge to be elected in Georgia.
Before her appointment to the bench, Judge McMillian was a partner in the litigation group of the national law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. Her practice centered on complex business litigation, including a heavy emphasis on appellate matters. In particular, she argued cases before the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Louisiana Court of Appeals. Before joining Sutherland, Judge McMillian had the privilege of beginning her legal career as a federal law clerk for the Honorable William C. O'Kelley of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Throughout her career, Judge McMillian has demonstrated a commitment to service. She currently serves or has served in leadership roles for the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Fayette County Historical Society, the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, the Real Life Center, the Atlanta Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, and the Georgia Legal History Foundation. She has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Peachtree City.
Because Judge McMillian believes that lawyers have a special duty to model and promote the highest ideals of the legal profession, she has accepted invitations to speak at events such as the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and the Annual Women's Law Panel at the UGA School of Law to mentor lawyers and law students on important professionalism issues. As a public servant, Judge McMillian works hard to educate Georgia's next generation by speaking at local school events, hosting student groups who visit the courthouse, and serving as a judge for high school and law school mock trial competitions.
Numerous groups have recognized Judge McMillian's work as a lawyer and her service to the community. Her peers in the legal profession twice selected her as a Georgia Super Lawyers "Rising Star." In 2012, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association tapped her as one of the "Best Lawyers Under 40" in the United States. The National Diversity Council picked her as one of the "2010 Most Powerful and Influential Women of Georgia." The Westminster Schools of Augusta named her as its "2010 Distinguished Alumna," and the Fayette Woman recognized Judge McMillian in its January 2013 issue for "Making a Difference on the Bench and Beyond." Judge McMillian has also been named as a "Notable Woman of History" by the Fayette-Starr's Mill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a 2013 "Community Champion" by the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, and one of the 25 Most Influential Asian Americans of 2014 by the Georgia Asian Times.
Education has played an enormous role in Judge McMillian's life. She attended law school as a Woodruff Scholar at the University of Georgia School of Law, where she graduated third in her class with highest honors and served as President of the Christian Legal Society. She also graduated with high honors from Duke University, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in both History and Economics. She obtained her high school diploma from the Westminster Schools of Augusta, graduating as the valedictorian of her class.
Judge McMillian has been married since 1997 to her husband Lance, a professor at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School. They have two children and live in Fayette County. They are long-time members of Dogwood Church, where Judge McMillian has served as a group leader for adult, women's, and children's small groups.