He previously practiced law for 12 years, first in Tupelo, then in Oxford. His practice concentrated on defense litigation and appellate advocacy in the areas of insurance, product liability and professional malpractice. He is admitted to practice before all Mississippi state and federal courts, and before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Justice Coleman is the second member of his family to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Both his grandfather and his father were appellate court judges. He is the grandson of the late J.P. Coleman, who served as Mississippi Governor and on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. J.P Coleman also served briefly as a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, resigning to accept appointment as state attorney general. Thomas Coleman, the younger Justice Coleman’s father, was one of the original members of the Mississippi Court of Appeals when the intermediate appellate court began in 1995.
Justice Coleman grew up in Choctaw County, near Ackerman, and graduated valedictorian from Ackerman High School. He graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and philosophy. He earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he served as treasurer of the Moot Court Board and the Criminal Law Society.
He bagged groceries at the Ackerman Piggly Wiggly in high school, and worked as a dishwasher, camp counselor and life guard while pursuing his undergraduate degree. He worked as a policy research intern in the office of the Secretary of State before starting law school. He served as a summer law clerk at a Tupelo firm. After earning his law degree, he served for almost two years as a law clerk for U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander in Oxford.
He served as a volunteer firefighter on the Toccopola Volunteer Fire Department while he and his family lived in Pontotoc County. He is a former member of the board of deacons at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Oxford, and a former member of the board of directors of the non-profit organization The International Guest House in Oxford.
He and his wife, Ashleigh Burke Coleman, have three children. They live in Fentress in Choctaw County on a farm that has been worked by seven generations of the Coleman family.