Getting to Know Miles Mediator Debbie Tarkington

Debbie Tarkington mediator

Since her addition to Team Murphey last spring, Debbie Tarkington has established a busy mediation practice at Miles. She handles a range of complex disputes in areas of personal injury, automobile accident, premises liability, professional negligence, property & casualty, products liability and contracts.

Debbie is known for her jovial personability in and out of mediations. She recently shared a glimpse of her life outside the office, her passions and what drives her–then see below for some of her incredible furniture designs.


What made you want to become a lawyer?

I have always been passionate, i.e. argumentative my family would say and “verbose”.  My mom said it took me a little longer to start talking, but once I did there was no stopping me.  I have always loved the law from reading novels to watching courtroom dramas either on television or on the big screen.  It just seemed like a natural fit whether it be my natural inclination to “argue”, interest the legal system and love for the courtroom.  That along with the fact that my dad told me that I needed to find a career – as he was not going to keep me on the payroll forever.


What are you most proud of on your resume?

I have only had three jobs in my career.  I have had great learning experiences with great growth and opportunity at each.  They have allowed me to be in the position I am today to start a totally new career as a mediator – to which I could not be more excited or happier about.


Why is mediation an important process?

I have always been a great believer in mediation and utilized it hundreds of times in my legal career.  It is an important process because IT WORKS. The short answer is that it helps resolve cases in the most effective and efficient manner possible.   Even if a case does not resolve at mediation, it opens a dialogue between the parties to be in a better position at the conclusion than when they started.  It allows for open, honest, confidential discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the case to set forth future discussions and file handling in hopes of either a resolution in the future or a more prepared, streamlined case for future litigation.


Where Did You Grow Up?

I grew up in Monticello, Kentucky and attended Centre College.  Kentucky is beautiful and so are its culture.


What do you like to do in your spare time? How do you unwind?

I read, spending time at the cabin with my husband and doing DIY projects – must to my husband’s dismay…. his “honey do” list is never ending.


What’s something your clients wouldn’t expect of you? (Humor us)

I love power tools! I build furniture in my spare time. (SEE BELOW!)  I believe that I am probably the only woman who got a pair of earrings and a plunge router for her birthday last year and a table saw for Mother’s Day.


What are your top five personal values?

Honest, Integrity, Commitment,  Compassion and Family


What are you most thankful for?

My husband.  He makes me laugh every day and is my biggest cheerleader. I would not have made the jump to mediation without his push.


What’s an ideal weekend for you?

Fall weekend at the cabin – Friends, family, food, fires and football.


What’s your Favorite Book?

This one is really hard for me – I love to read – sometimes 1-2 books a week.  I can say that my favorite legal books are “To Kill A Mocking Bird” – everyone’s classic legal favorite.  But then “Presumed Innocent” and “Primal Fear” – because they both surprised me with their endings – something that is hard to do.  I also loved “A Time To Kill” – the closing argument still resonates with me and the ending was spot on.


What movie or novel character do you most identify with?

In my young single days . . .Bridget Jones.


If you could change something in the world, what would it be?

Poverty and discrimination.


What characteristic do you most admire in others?



Do you have a favorite quote?

If you at first you don’t succeed, you must try, try again.


What would you sing at karaoke night?

Well first – no one would ever want to hear that trust me – I have been told by many reputable sources that I cannot carry a tune in a bucket….. that being said – probably anything by Jimmy Buffet.


What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done and would you do it again?

Four people, Ford Escort, $400 (between all 4 of us). Two week trip between semesters in law school from Michigan to Indiana University, UGA, Tampa, Miami, UGA, Kentucky Derby and back to Michigan. Would I do it again? Heck no – I am too old to be sleeping on floors.


What superpower would you like to have?

Strength. Building furniture requires some heavy lifting.


Who is your Hero?

No question – my parents.  They married at 16 – had one young son and myself a few years later. They completed high school – but neither had a college degree.  After years of hard work – my dad working as a Master Electrician and my mom working as a stay at home mom – they saved enough money and with a partner, purchased their first business a marina on Lake Cumberland. Thus, my love of the water.   After years of hard work and dedication, they put me through college (the first in my family to get a college degree) and law school.  They retired at age 50 to live happily ever after on their boat in the Florida Keys – having just moved to Lake Chickamauga in Chattanooga – and are still married 55 years later – my dad (in jest) says that at least 2 of them have been happy. I couldn’t be happier to FINALLY have them close enough to see them often!


If you were invisible, where would you go?

I first thought Fort Knox… .but how would you get the money out?  So I would say either CIA headquarters or the White House.


If you could have lunch with anyone living who would it be?

Any female The United States Supreme Court Justice.


When in your life have you had a “now or never” moment?

I would say April 2016 when I quit my job to be a mediator full time




Debbie Tarkington, Esq. is a mediator with Miles Mediation in Atlanta.  She has over 20 years of complex litigation experience. To schedule a mediation with Debbie, please call 678-320-9118 or visit her online calendar.