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Charleston Business

2018 Legal Elite

Sep 24, 2018 02:11PM ● By Emily Stevenson
Last year, Charleston Business Magazine began honoring Lowcountry attorneys by publishing our special Legal Elite feature. Winners are chosen by the votes of area attorneys. Legal Elite is the only award program in the region that gives every active attorney the opportunity to participate. We highlight the top vote getters in 20 categories with their biographies and a Q&A. The methodology is that while attorneys are allowed to nominate members of their own firm, for each in-firm nomination made, there had to be an out-of-firm nomination. Attorneys are not allowed to vote for themselves. The selections for Legal Elite for 2018 are presented within the following pages and we are pleased to honor them.

Banking & Finance Law
Bryan L. Walpole, III
K&L Gates, LLP

Bryan Walpole represents mortgage portfolio lenders and servicers in connection with the servicing of securitized loans, including defeasances, assumptions, consents, and other servicing matters. Walpole also represents private and institutional lenders, as well as borrowers, in connection with the origination of secured loans and the purchase and sale of distressed debt. Additionally, he practices in the areas of general corporate, commercial lending, and real estate transactions with a focus on hotel acquisition and operation. He regularly represents institutional lenders and finance companies, as well as borrowers, in various financing transactions, including syndicated loans, loan assumptions, and the origination of commercial mortgage-backed loans.
Prior to his admission to the South Carolina bar, Walpole practiced as a certified public accountant.
He is a member of the S.C. Bar and Corporate, Banking, and Securities Section Council and was awarded Woodward/White’s The Best Lawyers in America in Banking Law, 2011-2018.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
Growing up, I always had an interest in the numbers side of business. I majored in finance as an undergraduate and ended up taking a position with a Big Six—at the time—accounting firm in their tax department. Over time, I realized that I was more interested in the legal side of things and decided to put my career on hold to attend law school. Charleston is a small legal market, and most local business lawyers find themselves practicing in a number of different capacities, often including real estate, lending, and corporate matters.
In 2004, I was part of a group that opened an office in Charleston for a firm based in Charlotte. This gave me and our group exposure to commercial mortgage-backed securities servicing. This area put all of the things that interested me together, and I decided to focus on it. As any practicing attorney knows, a good deal of your practice area selection involves running for daylight and finding work wherever it may be. It certainly helped that the real estate finance market was—and remains—full of opportunity.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Matt Norton has always been a mentor to me. He set me straight after a brief flirtation with litigation following law school, and I have practiced with him for many years at three different law firms. He took me under his wing and taught me all the basics of real estate, loans, and lending, and generally being a good business attorney. I am grateful to Matt for the excellent base that he provided.

What is your most memorable case?
I don’t think that I can name one as the most memorable, but it is always satisfying when some creative thought and diligent work come together to solve a problem for a client. The financing work goes unseen to the public, but it is fun to visit a resort or drive by a large development and know you had a hand in making it happen.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
I was born and raised on Johns Island and went to school and worked in Charleston before leaving for college and an accounting job. I don’t think there was ever any question that I would return to live and raise a family, and it only took six years. Technology advances and rapid growth make Charleston a wonderful place to live and practice locally while also being able to participate in a truly national practice area. Much opportunity has moved to and been created in Charleston in the last decade. I would not change a thing.

Laurel R. S. Blair | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Jennifer Blumenthal | McNair Law Firm, P.A.
W. Foster Gaillard | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Michael Hickerson | FisherBroyles
Cynthia J. Lowery | Moore & Van Allen

Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights Law
Charles Summerall
Walker Gressette Freeman & Linton, LLC

Charles Summerall has been practicing law in Charleston for more than 30 years. He is certified by the South Carolina Supreme Court as a bankruptcy and debtor-creditor law specialist. Summerall is a certified mediator, and his practice also includes a wide variety of business litigation matters such as partner disputes and disputes relating to contracts and real estate. The diversity of his practice is demonstrated by his listings in Best Lawyers in America in multiple categories: Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation–Banking and Finance, Litigation–Bankruptcy, and Litigation–Real Estate. Summerall has recently been named The Best Lawyers in America 2019 Litigation–Real Estate “Lawyer of the Year” in Charleston.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I focused on business bankruptcy cases early in my career for two reasons. First, the South Carolina bankruptcy bar is fairly small and is especially collegial. Second, the legal issues that arise in business bankruptcy cases can be complex and often involve questions as to which the law is not settled, which makes strategically presenting my clients’ positions very stimulating and rewarding.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
I and many other South Carolina bankruptcy lawyers have been influenced by former Chief Bankruptcy Judge J. Bratton Davis. Judge Davis died in 2004, but he left an ongoing legacy of professionalism and collegiality.

What is your most memorable case?
My law partner and I represented a large corporation, which was sued by another company claiming my client had misappropriated its trade secrets. The company publicly stated that it expected to collect at least $1 billion in damages. My client won the case.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
I have lived in Charleston all of my life, and my appreciation of its uniqueness grows each year. I live downtown and am able to walk to work.

Robert Byrd | Parker Poe
Sean Markham | Markham Law Firm, LLC
Mark Sharpe | K&L Gates, LLP

Business Litigation Law
Danielle Payne
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie

Danielle Payne’s practice focuses on general litigation, handling a variety of cases including insurance defense, general liability, construction litigation, product liability, dram shop, wrongful death, personal injury, appellate court, automobile wrecks, declaratory judgment actions, and insurance defense coverage opinions. She earned a juris doctor from Florida State University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina. Payne is a member of the Charleston County Bar Association.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I started my career as a public defender and learned early on that I wanted to be a litigator in the courtroom. I knew that my heart could not take being a lifelong public defender, so I followed an attorney that I admired greatly into the private sector.  Over the years, my practice has evolved to predominantly represent businesses in a number of different types of cases. I like that each case is not the same; it adds flavor to my practice.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
April Sampson started out as my first mentor. She taught me the ropes of being a public defender and a litigator. I learned so much from her in the courtroom and with the interaction with our clients. She is now a prosecutor and at first I was shocked that she had switched sides, but I admire her greatly for being able to see both sides of a situation. If you ever have the opportunity to watch her in Richland County, do so, because it is a treat.

My current mentor is J.D. Smith. He is the reason I am in Charleston and at MGC. He is a brilliant lawyer, and I have learned so much from him in the three years I have worked directly with him. We were in a number of the same cases together prior to my joining MGC. I watched his tenacity in defending his clients, as well as his character and kindness towards other attorneys. When the opportunity arose to join him at MGC, I jumped on it because I knew my practice would flourish working with him. I am honored to call him my partner.

What is your most memorable case?
I represented a small family-owned construction company in a quasi-personal injury/construction case. My client was very nervous about the trial, and the money the plaintiff was asking for exceeded their insurance policy limits, so he was very worried he would have to pay out of pocket, bankrupting his business. After four days of a great trial, the jury returned a defense verdict. He wrote my partners a letter about how I represented him that made me cry. I think about him and that case when I am having a rough day. I have more, but you just asked for one.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
The people! Not only at MGC, but also all of the attorneys, judges, mediators, and clients that I have the pleasure to work with every day. I love my job and I know that it has everything to do with those people that I interact with daily.

David Cox | Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC
Paul A. Dominick | Nexsen Pruet, LLC
Brian Duffy | Duffy & Young, LLC
J. James Duggan | Duggan Law Firm, LLC
David Haller | Haller Law Firm
Ashley Kelley | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Ellis Lesemann | Lesemann & Associates, LLC
Jim Myrick | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Beth Palmer | Rosen Hagood
Jennifer Theim | K&L Gates, LLP
Matt Tillman | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Michael Timbes | Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A.
Trenholm Walker | Walker Gressette Freeman & Linton, LLC

Commerical Real Estate Law
Thomas L. Harper, Jr.
Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

For more than 20 years, Tom Harper has represented clients in Charleston and throughout the Southeast in commercial real estate acquisitions and development, commercial leasing, and real estate finance. He represents developers of shopping centers, office buildings, and industrial and multi-use projects, as well as private equity funds investing in joint ventures with merchant real estate developers on “net lease” projects. He represents residential homebuilders in land acquisition, entitlements, and the development of planned residential communities. Harper received his undergraduate and law degrees from Duke University. He has been recognized for years in national publications as being among the best commercial real estate lawyers in Charleston. He has served on various local boards over the years, including the Center for Birds of Prey, and volunteers with the Lowcountry AIDS Services Legal Clinic and Church of the Holy Cross.   
What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I started in litigation—which ultimately helped me become a better “deal lawyer”—but grew tired of everything being so adversarial. Real estate law is more productive. Even parties on opposite sides of a transaction generally are working towards the same goal of consummating the deal. And real estate is tangible. At the end of the day, you helped someone build an office for their business or neighborhoods and stores for their communities. That’s rewarding.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
It was less one single person than it was the group of partners in our law firm who built and instilled a culture that was passed down to me and other new attorneys: Treat others fairly and with dignity. Serve your clients and your community. And enjoy practicing law—it’s fun.

What is your most memorable case?
It wasn’t one case—it was that period of time during the first couple of years of the Great Recession. Those were scary times for real estate developers and lenders, and it was very satisfying to help them navigate that process. I had some clients who could have walked away from their obligations but chose not to, and we helped them work through that. Others needed assistance stepping in to salvage an unexpected situation and create a positive result. When I work with those clients now, I remember those days, and I feel a sense of shared success with them.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
It’s uncommon to find a place that has so much going for it already, and yet so much untapped potential as well. I like the energy that so many thoughtful people in the community bring towards preserving what is special about Charleston while also investing to improve it. Plus, everywhere you look, there’s water.

Will Dawson | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
W. Foster Gaillard | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Matthew Norton | K&L Gates, LLP
Jennifer Smith | Jennifer S. Smith, Esquire, P.C.
Nicholas C. Sottile | Sottile, Hopkins & Lewis, LLC
Megan Stevens | Buxton & Collie, LLC
James  H. “Jeddie” Suddeth III  | Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.
Manning Unger | Moore & Van Allen, PLLC
Jeff Vinzani | Graybill, Lansche & Vinzani, LLC
James Wilson | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

Construction Law
J.D. Smith
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie

J.D. Smith has practiced insurance defense and litigation for more than 20 years, with a focus on construction defect litigation, personal injury defense, product liability, professional liability, trucking, and insurance coverage. He regularly defends general contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals in construction defect litigation brought along the counties of coastal South Carolina. His practice also includes the defense of insured defendants in automobile and trucking accidents, premises liability suits, products liability cases, and other insurance-based claims. He earned a juris doctor from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston. He is a member of the S.C. Bar Association, Charleston County Bar Association, S.C. Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association, and Defense Research Institute.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I am originally from South Carolina and had not lived outside of the state until I started law school in Alabama. When I graduated from law school, I wanted to return to South Carolina to practice, but did not have any connections with South Carolina law firms since I had been in Alabama the past three years. I was lucky enough to get a job interview with a civil insurance defense firm in Florence during the spring of my last year in law school and was offered a job. This offer was the only one I had in South Carolina at that time, so I accepted it. I honestly had no idea what insurance defense litigation even meant when I interviewed—or when I started that fall, for that matter. But, the job with that firm was a start and got me back to South Carolina. And here I am 20 years later, still practicing civil insurance defense with MGC Insurance Defense in Charleston.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Mike Hopewell of Florence was my mentor when I started practicing after law school in Florence with my first firm. Mike not only taught me almost everything I know about the practice of law, but he also taught me that treating your colleagues and all clients with respect and honesty was the first step in becoming an attorney that others respected.

What is your most memorable case?
My most memorable case was a personal injury lawsuit I defended that arose out of an injury on a construction site. I represented the prime contractor, who allegedly was negligent in the installation of steel framing that collapsed on a structure. Plaintiff fell approximately 15 feet to a cement parking area and suffered significant injuries. Plaintiff’s counsel demanded my client’s insurance policy limits of $1 million and threatened to collect personally against my client if the jury awarded more than the policy limits. My client was a small business owned solely by a husband and wife, and they had recently re-opened the business to hopefully make some money toward retirement as they were nearing that time in their lives. They were worried that this case could take what savings they had and bankrupt their company. Plaintiff’s counsel refused to take any less than $1 million. At the end of discovery, we filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which the court granted. This case was my most memorable not because of the court’s decision, but because of the appreciation and relief my client felt knowing that the business and their retirement dream were protected.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
What’s not to like about living in Charleston? It’s the most beautiful city in the world, in my opinion, with the beaches and all of the history. And, as far as practicing, the lawyers I work with on a daily basis. Charleston County has the most collegial lawyers in the state. They make a demanding career pleasant.

Michael Allen | Pope Flynn
L. Dean Best | Best Honeycutt, P.A.
Walter Bundy, Jr. | Bundy McDonald, LLC
Allen Gibson | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Brew Hagood | Rosen Hagood
Roberts Hawk | Ethridge Law Group
John Hayes | Hayes Law
Dana Lang | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Patrick Norris | Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP
Graham Powell | Wall Templeton & Haldrup, P.A.
Paul Sperry | Carolock, Copeland & Stair, LLP
Barbara Wagner | Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC
Bill Warnock | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

Corporate Law, Mergers & Acquisitions
Jim Buxton
Buxton & Collie, LLC

James T.H. “Jim” Buxton, Sr. is the founding partner of Buxton & Collie, LLC, a corporate law firm in Mount Pleasant. A native of Charleston, Buxton graduated from Princeton University and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He practiced with AmLaw Top 100 firms in Atlanta and Richmond, Va., before returning to his home. Buxton is a council member for the S.C. Bar’s Corporate, Banking, and Securities Committee and is a co-author of the new S.C. Bar publication, S.C. Business Law Handbook.
Buxton’s practice focuses on private securities offerings, business purchase and sale agreements, and deal work involving high net worth individuals and family office clients who engage in private equity transactions.
Buxton is active in the Charleston community, volunteering his time on several boards and foundations. He lives in Mount Pleasant with his wife, Courtney, and their two sons.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I enjoy working with creative minds to solve problems in the marketplace. Assisting business owners and investors with building their ideas and guiding those ideas to fruition makes for a fulfilling practice.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
I would pick two: Professor Alan Medlin and John Hagerty. Whether they realize it or not, both have been instrumental in my journey through providing a willing ear and, of course, necessary comedy.

What is your most memorable case?
The most memorable transaction actually involved five different transactions across seven states and four countries that combined equity and debt securities, shareholder redemptions, a revolving credit facility arrangement, supply chain matters, and meticulous corporate governance planning. Working as lead company counsel with a team of various counsel and executives from the many jurisdictions in a collaborative way to accomplish a goal was exhilarating.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
Enjoying the natural wonder of the Lowcountry with my family and friends while also being able to have a fulfilling practice in a growing region.

Ernie Cochran | K&L Gates, LLP
J. James Duggan | Duggan Law Firm, LLC
Andrew Lloyd | K&L Gates, LLP
Susan Smythe | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

Criminal Law
Chris Skipper
Skipper Law Firm LLC

Since April of 2004, Christopher A. Skipper has been the sole practitioner of the Skipper Law Firm, LLC. Skipper practices criminal defense in federal, state, magistrate, and municipal courts. He represents injured workers before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Born and raised in Georgetown and Horry counties, Skipper began to work in the Charleston legal community while a student at the College of Charleston in 1990.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1996, Skipper returned to the Lowcountry to work as an assistant solicitor in the Berkeley County Solicitor’s Office and in the Charleston County Solicitor’s Office.
Skipper currently serves as the associate judge for the City of Folly Beach Municipal Court and the city prosecutor for the City of Isle of Palms.
Skipper resides with his wife Amy and their three children in Mount Pleasant. He enjoys spending time with his family and being on the water.

D. Keith Bolus | D. Keith Bolus, Attorney at Law
Bart Daniel | Nelson Mullins
Rad Deaton | Deaton Law Firm
Christopher Geel | Adams & Geel
Matthew Hubbell | K&L Gates, LLP
Dale Savage | Dale Savage Law Firm, LLC
Ryan Schwartz | Thrower & Schwartz Law Firm
Jerry Theos | Uricchio, Howe, Krell, Jacobson, Toporek, Theos & Keith, P.A.

Environmental Law
Wendy Wilkie Parker
Nelson Mullins

Wendy Wilkie Parker is of counsel to Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, where she practices environmental and energy law. Her experience includes representation of clients before administrative agencies and in state and federal litigation; negotiation and drafting of settlement agreements, consent agreements, and consent decrees; general advice regarding regulatory compliance and permitting the purchase, development, and sale of brownfields and environmental audits; and negotiation and drafting of environmental access agreements and environmental language for asset and property purchase agreements, including experience with CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Air Act.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I became interested in environmental law through environmental classes at the College of Charleston.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Ben A. Hagood, Jr., an excellent environmental attorney and mentor.

Perrin Dargan | K&L Gates, LLP
Chris Jaros | K&L Gates, LLP
Trenholm Walker | Walker Gressette Freeman & Linton, LLC

Family Law
Britton Mason Hawk
Bluestein & Douglas, LLC

Britton Mason Hawk graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2003 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2007. Hawk worked for a corporate defense firm in Charleston for several years, after which she opened her own firm to practice family law. Hawk joined Bluestein & Douglas in 2016, where she represents clients in family court on such issues as separation and divorce, child custody, visitation, relocation, child support, adoption, and contempt of court. Hawk has served on the board of the Charleston Animal Society and on the parents advisory council for the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, is a graduate of Leadership Charleston, is currently serving on the board of the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Learning Center, and is on the Memorial Fund Trustees committee at First Scots Presbyterian Church. Hawk enjoys spending her free time with her husband and three young children.
What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I worked for years in commercial defense litigation before choosing to switch my practice area to family law. I wanted to represent local people, rather than companies, and help them navigate through incredibly tough situations. Family law is unique in that you are dealing with clients in the midst of the most emotionally and financially stressful times of their lives, and also dealing with what is closest to their hearts. Family law is not for everyone, but it is for me. Every case in family court comes with its own flavor and personality, both of which are often accentuated in stressful situations. I have found that much of family law is dealing with personalities; often the numbers are what they are and the custody arrangements fall in a certain range, but getting people to a reasonable solution while dealing with often overwhelming emotions is where being able to deal effectively with people comes in particularly useful.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Natalie Bluestein has been my mentor in family law, as she has been to so many other members of the family court bar in Charleston. She has been an invaluable resource for me since I started practicing family law. Not only does she know the letter of the law, she also knows the right way to practice and has passed that on to me. She has shown me over and over again how to get effective results for clients while watching the client’s bottom line and maintaining the highest ethical standards.

What is your most memorable case?
I’ve had many memorable cases, both in good ways and bad, but I’d have to say that my most memorable case recently was reuniting a child with his grandfather after months of separation. Knowing that the two of them can now rebuild their relationship makes me happy and helps fuel me to do what I do.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
What’s not to love about living and working in Charleston? I’d have to say the people are my favorite thing. We serve clients from all walks of life at our Mount Pleasant, and for the most part the people are delightful, even on their darkest days.

Government Law
Jack Smith
Nelson Mullins

Newman Jackson “Jack” Smith is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in its Charleston office. Smith received his juris doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1978 and is admitted in the state of South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Claims, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, and the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia. Previously, he worked for state and federal agencies and has experience in complex private and government litigation.
Currently, Smith focuses his practice on environmental law and litigation, administrative law, land use law, and constitutional law. Smith’s current leadership roles include the Urban Land Institute representative of the NOAA Digital Coast Partnership, the Charleston Chamber representative on the Charleston Resilience Network, and immediate past president of the S.C. Mitigation Association. He is an adjunct professor of environmental law at Charleston School of Law.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
My interest in government and natural resources led me to classes in marine biology and environmental law, and my internships in law school were in local, state, and federal government agencies.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
After many years of practice, it is hard to choose one. The partners at Nelson Mullins provide team support and guidance in a collegiate atmosphere, and I enjoy working in such a high-standard environment.

What is your most memorable case?
A regulatory takings case in North Myrtle Beach after Hurricane Hugo damaged an oceanfront pier that belonged to a condominium property.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
The Lowcountry offers so much in natural and historical resources, and I was drawn to Charleston even as a teenager. The beaches, the marshes, rivers, a downtown with horses and carriages, and a rich history provide a mix I am blessed to be able to enjoy.

Stephanie Yarbrough | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Ashley Cooper | Parker Poe

Health Care Law
Marshall Allen
Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

Marshall Allen counsels health care facilities, institutions, professionals, and providers in a wide range of operational, transactional, administrative, and regulatory matters. Allen has extensive experience in organizing and structuring medical and other professional practices in conformity with governmental compliance rules and standards, as well as providing ongoing operational guidance.

Professional practices and institutional health care facilities rely on Allen for assistance with mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate and regulatory matters. He represents health clients in administrative disputes including medical staff disciplinary matters, actions before the state licensure boards, administrative litigation arising out of the grant or denial of certificates or approvals issued by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for the operation of health care facilities and/or medical equipment, and matters arising from healthcare audits.
Allen has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America 2019 in the field of Healthcare Law. He has been listed in this publication for more than seven years.

Merritt Abney | Nelson Mullins
Stephen D. Bittinger | Nexsen Pruet, LLC
Annette Drachman | MUSC
Laura Evans | Shumaker Loop & Kendrick
Chilton Grace Simmons | Buyck, Sanders and Simmons, LLC

Insurance Law
M. Dawes Cooke, Jr.
Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC

M. Dawes Cooke, Jr. is a member of Barnwell, Whaley, Patterson & Helms in Charleston, where his practice focuses on complex civil litigation. He also often serves as a mediator and arbitrator. He currently serves as president of the South Carolina Bar. He is past president of the Charleston chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Charleston County Bar Association, and the James L. Petigru American Inn of Court, and past chair of the S.C. Bar’s Commission on Judicial Independence and Impartiality. He formerly served as the governor’s appointee to the S.C. Automobile Liability Insurance Study Committee.
Cooke is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. The Best Lawyers in America has named him lawyer of the year in several categories. He is recognized by Chambers USA and Benchmark Litigation. Super Lawyers has ranked him the number one lawyer in South Carolina multiple years.
What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
Upon graduating from law school, I was privileged to clerk for the late Honorable Sol Blatt, Jr., the eminent federal district judge in Charleston. During my year in his court, I was able to observe many trial lawyers in action, which whetted my appetite for trial work. Litigation is a constant challenge, which I find very rewarding.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Judge Blatt was my first mentor, and he remained a mentor and role model until his death in 2016 at the age of 95. I have been with the same law firm since completing my clerkship with Judge Blatt, and I had wonderful mentors in the late Ben Scott Whaley, the late Robert “Sonny” Patterson, and Bill Helms, who is now retired. Every day, I try to live up to their high standards of professionalism and honor.

What is your most memorable case?
I have been lucky to be involved in quite a few memorable cases. Probably the most memorable—because I am often reminded about it—was the case that led to The Citadel becoming coeducational. That case was a long, fascinating journey through uncharted and evolving legal territory. It was important for us to find out whether publicly supported single-gender education was still constitutional. And once the Supreme Court decided that question, it was important for The Citadel to do the best job it could do to adapt to coeducation, which I am proud to say it has done.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
When I was deciding where to live and work, some people counseled me to go to work for a big firm in a big city up north. I thought about that for a while, but then it finally occurred to me that many of the lawyers in those firms work hard all their careers so they can retire to a place like Charleston. I finally decided to come straight here, and I’ve never regretted it. Everyone knows about the benefits of living in Charleston. I particularly enjoy working with the lawyers here. Charleston lawyers are excellent—as good as you will find anywhere—and our bar is among the most collegial anywhere.

Bennett Crites | Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Micheal Ethridge | Ethridge Law Group
Blanton O’Neal, IV | Hood Lawa Firm
Grayson Smith | Gallivan White & Boyd, P.A.
R. Bruce Wallace | Nexsen Pruet, LLC
John S. Wilkerson | Turner Padget

Intellectual Property & Product Liability Law
David Cox
Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC

David Cox serves as counsel for a variety of major product manufacturers in product liability litigation. He works to help manufacturers manage product liability risks and litigation, with an eye on controlling costs. In his intellectual property practice, Cox obtains trademarks and copyrights for business clients, and he has litigated infringement and trade practice cases. He helps clients implement strategies for protecting their intellectual property and for addressing infringement issues and other threats to that intellectual property. Additionally, Cox represents numerous South Carolina companies for general business advising, risk management, and litigation of commercial disputes, both as plaintiff and defendant. He believes that his litigation experience helps him be a better business lawyer and that his business experience helps him be a better litigator. Cox works to understand his client’s perspectives and goals, and he understands the need to balance risks and costs.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I love the variety in what I do. I enjoy learning about a product in-depth in order to defend its design and manufacture. I enjoy the intellectual challenges of intellectual property law. And I enjoy assessing the risks and rewards involved in business litigation.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
I have been fortunate to have several impactful mentors in my career. One who stands out is Babs Warner, who currently leads the law department at Santee Cooper. She demonstrated fantastic litigation instincts, being calm under fire, and practicing with integrity.

What is your most memorable case?
I had a case involving fire loss to shrimp boats in Beaufort County that had a cast of characters right out of a Grisham novel. It had arson, alibis, insurance fraud, death threats, shady companies in the Cayman Islands, and on and on. It was wild.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
Charleston, even with the growing pains that we are experiencing now, remains a terrific place to practice law, with most lawyers maintaining a high level of collegiality and integrity. As far as life outside of work, what’s not to love—we live in the most beautiful city in America!

Edward Fenno | Fenno Law Firm, LLC
B. C. “Bill” Killough | Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC

International Law
W. Ford Graham
K&L Gates, LLP

W. Ford Graham has more than 11 years of experience in economic development. He has been one of the leading recruiters of international companies to the Southeastern U.S., facilitating new industry and expansion in more than 105 projects, resulting in more than 8,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in investment.
Prior to joining K&L Gates, Graham served as director of international strategy and trade for the state Department of Commerce. While there, he directed international efforts including South Carolina’s offices in Delhi, Munich, Shanghai, and Tokyo; uncovered foreign direct investment opportunities; and supported South Carolina companies exporting their products to the world.
He is on the boards of the Moore School of Business’s Folks Center for International Business, Charleston Sister Cities International, and the French American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolinas. He received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the Moore School in 2017. Graham also served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
Having worked as an industry and business recruiter for the S.C. Department of Commerce for nearly 10 years, coming to a multinational law firm like K&L Gates as an economic development and incentives lawyer made perfect sense. I help domestic companies with expansions and growing their footprints abroad and assist international companies as they navigate the dauntingly complex legal and business environment of establishing an operation in the United States.

What is your most memorable case?
I help companies with their business expansions rather than on specific cases, and the projects range from just a few new jobs to thousands of employees. My favorite ones tend to be the companies that add footprints in rural communities. The impact of a few dozen good-paying jobs in a small town can be much more powerful than a hundred jobs in a big city.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
Being from South Carolina, I’ve always enjoyed Charleston from afar, but it’s a privilege to now be part of the fabric here. The city has the right mix of business, cultural, and natural opportunities. We enjoy Charleston’s historic underpinning, coupled with the infusion of novel approaches and new offerings. It’s a walkable, livable, and economic gem.

David Collins | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Scott Bluestein | Bluestein Law Firm
Julius Sam Hines | K&L Gates, LLP
Bradish Waring | Nexsen Pruet, LLC

Labor & Employment Law
Amy Jenkins
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie

Amy Jenkins is a member at the law firm of McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLC, which is headquartered in Columbia and has a total of 15 offices in five states. Jenkins has practiced in the area of employment law since 1993 and is a S.C. Supreme Court certified specialist in labor and employment law, as well as a certified mediator. Jenkins handles all aspects of employment law, including litigation and claims pending with federal and state agencies. She has extensive experience in drafting and evaluating employment contracts, handbooks, and policies. She also routinely provides legal counsel to clients in employee-related matters. Jenkins currently serves on the S.C. Supreme Court’s Employment and Labor Law Specialization Advisory Board. She has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America (2007-2018), S.C. Super Lawyers (2008-2018), and Charleston Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite” (2017).
What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
It was a fortuitous chain of events 25 years ago that led me to practice in the area of employment law. I would sum it up by saying that I did not choose the area of law, but my first employer chose it for me, and it has been a wonderful fit for me ever since.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
I have been lucky to have had mentoring relationships with numerous attorneys over the years, and I cannot point to just one person as having been my mentor. Not only have I learned from those with more legal experience than me, but I have learned from junior attorneys who had different life experiences than me, including judicial clerkships.

What is your most memorable case?
There have been many memorable cases and clients over the years, but two really stand out for me. One was a multi-claim employment law case that went to trial against a major international corporation in state court in Charlotte, when I was a third-year associate. It ended up being an 11-day trial, and I was able to play a significant role at the trial. The trial ended with a defense verdict for our client. It was a wonderful learning experience. The second case was filed in federal court in North Carolina, and likewise was a multi-claim employment law case. I represented the employer and the various officers and directors who were also sued. I had very aggressive out-of-state opposing counsel who were relentless about how my clients were going to lose and who continually sought seven-figure damages in the case. I was victorious at the partial motion to dismiss stage, the summary judgment stage, and upon appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. Getting the final ruling in favor of my clients was sweet vindication.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
From a work standpoint, I am able to handle challenging and sophisticated issues while not having to live in a large metropolitan area. From a personal standpoint, I love the access to the waterways, beaches, great restaurants, and friendly people.

Adriane Belson | Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC
Walker Coleman | K&L Gates, LLP
Amy Gaffney | Gaffney Lewis & Edwards, LLC
Ashley Kelley | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Alice Paylor | Rosen Hagood
Lucy Sanders | Bloodgood & Sanders, LLC
Meg Sawyer | K&L Gates, LLP

Maritime Law
David Collins
Womble Bond Dickinson LLP

With more than 30 years of experience litigating maritime cases in South Carolina, David Collins has tried cases before most of our federal judges and in many counties.

Although he cut his teeth in the firm’s protection and indemnity insurance practice representing global shipping clients, he has concentrated on recreational boating matters for more than two decades. In doing so, he has represented many major boat builders, personal watercraft makers, and engine and accessory manufacturers, as well as insurers, marinas, boat yards, yacht management companies, and operators.

Drawing on his experience and training, Collins has also assisted many clients in reviewing global and regional transportation contracts, evaluating liabilities in the event of losses in transit, and addressing logistics related business disputes. His work has led his peers to consistently include him in the Best Lawyers in America and to name him Charleston’s “Admiralty Lawyer of the Year” on two recent occasions.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I have always loved the sea and found the intersection between the law and boats intriguing. As I took numerous maritime courses at Tulane University, the historical underpinnings of this branch of law stretching back to the Phoenicians and Greeks added a further layer of fascination. There was also the strong likelihood that I would end up in a coastal city.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
The late Ben Moore taught me everything worthwhile that I know about practicing law. He also did it in such a kind and gentle manner that it left no marks.

What is your most memorable case?
It would have to be a maritime transportation/marine insurance case involving the construction of a hotel on Paradise Island. During deposition trips to the Bahamas, my clients and local counsel killed the opponents with kindness by hosting barbeques and sailing trips. At the end of the day, I had satisfactory results, great memories, and lifelong friendships.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
The combination of plentiful work, a collegial bar, a world-class small city, and beautiful natural surroundings is hard to beat.

Ford Graham | K&L Gates, LLP
Scott Bluestein | Bluestein Law Firm
Julius Sam Hines | K&L Gates, LLP
Bradish Waring | Nexsen Pruet, LLC

Personal Injury Law
Stuart Hudson
Hughey Law Firm, LLC

Stuart Hudson is a partner at Hughey Law Firm located in Mount Pleasant. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and received his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He has worked as both a civil defense and civil plaintiff’s lawyer. For the past 10 years, he has primarily represented plaintiffs in many complex cases including wrongful death, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, trucking/motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and contract disputes. Hudson is licensed to practice in South Carolina and Georgia and in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He also has successful trial results around the nation, including in Oregon, New Jersey, and, of course, South Carolina.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I enjoy learning about all different aspects of life and other professions, which being a civil attorney allows you to do, while at the same time helping individuals to better their lives. Each case is different, and the work does not get monotonous and can be very personally rewarding.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
David Yarborough of Yarborough Applegate. He is who I started working on plaintiff’s cases with and is a great plaintiff’s lawyer. He has not only been a fantastic mentor to me, he has also been a great friend.

What is your most memorable case?
I had a case where a pharmacist shot an individual in the back while they were leaving the pharmacy.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
I like the people in Charleston and how there is always something going on around town.  The Charleston legal community is also very cordial and professional, which makes working enjoyable on a professional, as well as social, level.

William Applegate | Yarborough Applegate Law Firm, LLC
Curtis Bostic | The Bostic Law Group, P.A.
Christy Fargnoli | Clawson Fargnoli
Andrew Gowdown | Rosen Hagood
Robert Hadden | Hadden Law Firm, LLC
Nathan Hughey | Hughey Law Firm, LLC
Douglas Jennings | Yarborough Applegate Law Firm, LLC
Brian Kern | Turner Padget
Jennifer Purdy | Popowski, Callas, & Shirley, P.A.
Susan Rosen | Rosen Law Firm, LLC
David Yarborough | Yarborough Applegate Law Firm, LLC

Residential Real Estate Law
Jessica Dawson
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie

Jessica Dawson’s practice focuses on real estate and probate law, including residential and commercial real estate transactions and the preparation of simple estate planning documents. She earned a juris doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University. Dawson is a member of the Charleston County Bar Association.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
My first job after law school involved a mix of real estate transactions, municipal law, and general litigation. I enjoyed real estate the most and knew I wanted it to be the focus of my practice, so I was thrilled to join MGC’s real estate team. I love that I get to interact with different types of people on a daily basis and help them achieve their goal of becoming homeowners. As a lawyer, it’s rare to be able to high-five your clients once your services have concluded, and I get to do it every day.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
Johnny Linton was my first mentor. I worked as his legal assistant and was lucky to observe him in many different contexts: in court, mediations, client meetings, and civic functions. He’s one of the best and taught me that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

David Ross has helped me hone my real estate skills and has taught me to appreciate the importance of dealing with a wide range of clients, from nervous, first-time homebuyers to sophisticated buyers who have been involved in numerous real estate transactions.

What is your most memorable case?
In my first job, I was tasked with trying a hotly contested case in which my clients were claiming a deed should be overturned as a result of undue influence. It was my first trial and I couldn’t have been more nervous. Fortunately, we prevailed.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
Charleston is abounding with beautiful beaches, friendly faces, amazing restaurants, and, most importantly, many of my close friends and family. There’s so much to love about this city. I’m grateful to call it home and feel very lucky that my job is to help others call it home.

Eric Bradshaw | Bradshaw & Company, LLC
Tara Edwards-Vitollo | Vitollo Law Firm, LLC
Katie Hinson Lewis | Sottile, Hopkins & Lewis, LLC

Tax & Estate Law
Jennifer Davis
Nelson Mullins

Jennifer Williams Davis is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Charleston, where she practices in federal and state taxation, economic development, and estate planning. She counsels clients in the areas of tax planning, state and local economic incentives, controversy work, tax-exempt organizations, partnership tax, estate planning, and taxation of real estate transactions. She has been certified as a specialist in taxation law by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I enjoyed my accounting and business classes at Wofford College. Practicing law in the tax and estate planning area was a natural transition for me.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
John von Lehe at Nelson Mullins has been a fantastic mentor to me for nearly 20 years. I am so fortunate to have practiced with him. He has taught me the ins and outs of managing a tax practice.

What is your most memorable case?
There have been lots of memorable clients. I have been fortunate enough to represent people from a number of different areas including CEOs, professors, doctors, other lawyers, athletes, etc. I have learned so much from my clients and enjoy interacting with them on a daily basis.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
I knew before I started law school that my goal was to practice law in Charleston. Although it took me a few years, I eventually did find my way to Charleston. I love the beaches, the water, the spirit of the town, and the people that live here.  

Meghan Barnes | Kirby Law, LLC
Edward Bennet | Evans, Carter, Kunes & Bennet, P.A.
Jeffrey Bogdan | Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, LLC
J. James Duggan | Duggan Law Firm, LLC
Freddy Faircloth | James C Hardin III, PLLC
Graeme F. Philp | Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP
Carter Grant | Grant & Kuyk, P.C.
Abe Gutting | Buxton & Collie, LLC
Angela Kirby | Kirby Law, LLC
Jean Lee | Evans, Carter, Kunes & Bennet, P.A.
Tiffany Provence | Provence Messervy, LLC
Jason Walton | K&L Gates, LLP
Tripp Wiles | Wiles Law Firm, LLC

Workers’ Compensation Law
Allison Nussbaum
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie

Allison Nussbaum is a member of McAngus Goudelock & Courie in the Charleston office. Since 2005, Nussbaum has focused her practice on workers’ compensation defense, representing employers, self-insureds, and insurance carriers before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission and in state courts. Nussbaum is an active member in national, state, and local professional organizations devoted to workers’ compensation issues. She regularly lectures before various organizations on issues related to workers’ compensation. Nussbaum is a former law clerk to the Honorable Diane S. Goodstein, judge of the First Judicial Circuit of South Carolina.

Outside of work, Nussbaum enjoys volunteering, playing tennis, and spending time on the water with her dogs and family.

What led you to select the particular type of law that you practice?
I really enjoy the fast pace and challenge of workers’ compensation defense. Further, I enjoy the daily interaction and assistance I can provide to countless businesses across the state of South Carolina.

Who has been your mentor in your legal career and why?
I’ve had numerous mentors along the way, including my first senior partner and the Honorable Diane Goodstein through my initial judicial clerkship out of law school.

What is your most memorable case?
I defended a municipality against workers’ compensation fraud. I was able to limit their exposure through the use of social media and surveillance results at trial.

What do you like most about living and working in Charleston?
I love living in Charleston for the beautiful landscapes, great restaurants, culture, and diverse people.

Vince Northcutt | Lueder, Larkin & Hunter, LLC
Max Sparwasser | Max Sparwasser Law Firm, LLC
Sean Wilson | Law Office of Sean M. Wilson, LLC