Top 25 Attorneys in South Carolina for 2022

Attorney Intel is pleased to announce the Top 25 Attorneys in South Carolina for 2022. These attorneys are partners, general counsels, and executive vice presidents at some of the most prestigious firms and successful companies in South Carolina. Each one of these men and women have a wealth of experience in providing legal advice to their wide array of clients. Many of the organizations represented on this list have been operating in the Southeast for decades, while others have offices around the globe, allowing their clients and attorneys to access vast resources.

Included in this year’s list is Kristin Hermiz, who worked under The Honorable Stephen Fortunato before joining Motley Rice. This plaintiff’s litigation firm has worked for asbestos and mesothelioma victims and has taken on the tobacco industry. Also included in this list is Hagood Tighe, whose nearly two decades with Fisher & Phillips have seen him find creative ways to solve complex labor and employment problems. This list also includes William Thomas, who represents healthcare clients in litigation, regulatory and transactional matters, as well as provides advice to for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals, physicians and physician practices, pharmacies, and nursing homes, among many other types of organizations.

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of the Top Attorneys in South Carolina in 2022.


Jamie Bruce
Partner, K&L Gates

Jamie Bruce is a Partner at K&L Gates. Bruce represents clients in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and other business transactions. He advises Fortune 500 companies as well as middle-market and emerging growth companies in a broad range of industries, including aerospace, paper and packaging, technology, distribution, resort, hospitality and leisure, retail, transportation and logistics, healthcare and media. Jamie also represents private equity sponsors, corporate strategic investors and distressed company investors.

Previously, Bruce was a partner at Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein LLP and before that an associate at King and Spalding LLP. He earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and an undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University.


Carty Bibee
Attorney and Partner, Husch Blackwell

Carty Bibee is an Attorney and Partner at Husch Blackwell. For much of the last decade, Bibee has represented tax equity investors throughout the investment process, with an emphasis on solar projects. He also has experience with a wide variety of tax credits at both the federal and state levels, and he has worked on projects across the country. His tax credit work involves managing and directing the transaction process from the initial term sheet stage; to diligence and transaction document preparation, negotiation and execution; through closing.

Alongside this tax credit practice, Bibee has significant experience in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and other negotiated transactions, including acquisitions and sales of solar projects. His deal work is centered on the middle market, primarily involving private companies across a variety of industries. Bibee first got his start in 2006 as an associate at Burr and Forman LLP. From there, he went on to Hagood and Kerr, PA, before eventually rising to become a partner with K&L Gates. Bibee graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a JD and from the University of Virginia with an undergraduate degree in economics.


Jase Glenn
Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough

Jase Glenn is a Partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough. He practices in the areas of toxic tort litigation, business litigation, and pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. Jase’s practice focuses on representing equipment manufacturers in complex product liability cases filed in both state and federal court. He also focuses his practice on electronic discovery consulting and has coordinated numerous document review projects for the firm.

Prior to being made partner, Glenn spent 7 years as an Associate at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Glenn first got his start in 2003 as a contract specialist at INC Research Inc. where he negotiated contracts for clinical trials. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in English.


Brenda Trickey
General Counsel, Zaxby's Franchising

Brenda Trickey is the General Counsel of Zaxby's Franchising. She first joined the company in 2018. Trickey is known for partnering with business units and third parties to achieve exemplary results through innovation and collaboration, inspiring trust, managing expectations and mitigating risks. She is fueled by a passion for tackling the tough stuff and developing team members.

Previously, Trickey was a chief legal officer and head of real estate for Pet Retail Brands. Before that, she served as the general counsel for Edible Arrangements and the head of legal for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Earlier in her career she worked with Marriott International as a vice president and senior legal counsel. Trickey earned a JD from Emory University School of Law and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Binghamton University School of Management.


Lisa Thomas
Partner, Husch Blackwell

Lisa Thomas is a Partner at Husch Blackwell. For over three decades, Lisa has served as a trusted advisor to healthcare providers, and during that time, she has helped industry leaders overcome the challenges of a constantly changing marketplace. She routinely tackles her clients’ major strategic events, such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and reorganizations, as well as providing day-to-day legal advice addressing critical areas of concern, including fraud and abuse, physician self-referral laws, enrollment and certification, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, managed care contracting, hospital-physician alignment strategies, privacy and governance issues.

Lisa is a frequent speaker and author and has provided numerous articles and presentations for American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA), the South Carolina Hospital Association, and several physician specialty associations regarding healthcare compliance, Stark and anti-kickback law, and corporate transactions. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD and from Emory University with an undergraduate degree in classic and classical languages, literature and linguistics.


Paul Pilecki
Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton

Paul Pilecki is a Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton. He concentrates his practice in the representation of foreign and domestic banking organizations on regulatory matters and has extensive experience in advising banking organizations on the scope and structure of new activities and geographic expansion. He advises international banks on establishing branches, agencies, and representative offices in the United States and assists banks in the application process. He advises international banks with U.S. offices and subsidiaries on the unique exemptions available under the Bank Holding Company Act related to their investments in foreign nonfinancial companies and the compliance and reporting issues related to holding those investments. Mr. Pilecki counsels potential investors in banks on the issues associated with holding a passive or controlling interest in a bank and on the implications of the supervisory and regulatory process on an investment. He has also served as an expert witness on matters under the Bank Holding Company Act, the Edge Act and the Bank Merger Act.

Pilecki began his professional career as a bank examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and was a member of the Legal Division of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. He graduated from Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law with a JD and from Saint Joseph's University with an undergraduate degree in history.


Grant Burns
Executive Vice President and General Counsel, AFL

Grant Burns serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. For AFL In this capacity, Grant oversees all legal matters including corporate governance, intellectual property, litigation and compliance as well as government affairs. In addition, he is also involved in the strategic, legal and compliance activities of several other Fujikura group companies, including Fujikura Automotive America and Fujikura America Incorporated. AFL's human resources and international trade functions also report to Grant.

Prior to joining AFL in 2012, Grant was in private practice for over twenty years, first with Ogletree Deakins and later with Nexsen Pruet, LLC. During that time, he was recognized for excellence by publications such as The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers and Martindale-Hubbell (AV). He graduated from Washington and Lee University School of Law with a JD and from Clemson University with an undergraduate degree in political science.


Hagood Tighe
Partner, Fisher and Phillips

Hagood Tighe is the Partner of Fisher and Phillips’s Columbia office and co-chair of the Wage and Hour practice group. He is also an active member of the firm's class and collective action practice. In recent years, Hagood has handled approximately 40 class and collective actions throughout the country. Much of his class and collective experience is in the wage and hour area. He also has extensive experience with Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) class action litigation.

While he maintains an active litigation practice, he also focuses on providing practical and proactive advice designed to minimize the risk of litigation. Part of this effort includes working with national and local clients implementing arbitration programs. Hagood also provides training for supervisors and managers on harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity compliance, the FMLA, and many other areas. Additionally, Hagood has authored numerous articles about employment law and regularly lectures at seminars regarding employment law. Hagood earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.


Catherine Wrenn
Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

Catherine Wrenn is a Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, which she first joined in 2007. Wrenn’s practice includes advising clients on regulatory compliance and handling matters that involve Medicare fraud, wrongful death, personal injury, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of warranty. Her healthcare industry clients include physicians, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities.

Wrenn earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree in business from Wake Forest University.


Andrew Etkind
General Counsel, JTEKT North America

Andrew Etkind is General Counsel of JTEKT North America, a global leader in engineering and manufacturing automotive systems, bearing solutions, and high-performance machine tools. Their global vision is to be preferred by all stakeholders to include customers, associates, suppliers and their local communities.JTEKT Corporation consistently ranks in the top 20 automotive suppliers globally. Etkind is an accomplished attorney and trusted business advisor with in-house legal, human resources, executive management and board experience in regulated industries. He has the ability to mitigate risk, solve problems and successfully build, manage and lead collaborative teams within various corporate environments.

Etkind first got his start in 1989 as a legal counsel at Marriott International. From there, he went on to The Home Depot, before eventually rising to general counsel and VP of business affairs - Flex Tek division at Smiths Group plc, his most recent position prior to joining JTEKT North America. Etkind graduated from Emory University School of Law with a JD and from Binghamton University School of Management with an undergraduate degree in accounting.


Eli Poliakoff
Attorney, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough

Eli Poliakoff is an Attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough. Poliakoff practices in the areas of healthcare with an emphasis on hospital-physician relationships, healthcare IT, medical devices and lien resolution. He advises healthcare and hospital systems on regulatory and transactional matters, including hospital/physician relationships and strategies. His practice also includes advising the medical device, drug and pharma industry on Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance and third-party payer lien resolution strategies.

Previously, Poliakoff was a law clerk to the U.S. District Court Judge David Norton at U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina. He earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University.


Sarah Robertson
Partner, Burr and Forman

Sarah Robertson is a Partner of Burr and Forman. She also serves as Co-Chair of Burr & Forman's Real Estate Practice Group and a member of the Corporate and Tax Practice Groups. With the firm or its predecessors since 1999, she handles both residential and commercial real estate closings in the firm's Bluffton office. She represents real estate development clients with acquisition, sale, leasing, and development matters, private placement offerings, federal and state land sales registration matters, development agreements, subdivision and condominium documentation, community covenants, and sales contracts, property owners’ association matters, regulatory and licensing matters, and equity and non-equity club matters.

Robertson assists business clients in forming and representing entities, non-profit organization formation and representation, 501(c)(3) tax exemption applications, community association corporate representation, private equity and non-equity club corporate representation, drafting organizational documents, completing mergers, acquisitions, and sales, and documenting other transactional matters. Additionally, she represents lenders in drafting loan documentation and facilitating closings. Robertson graduated from Emory University School of Law with a JD and from the University of South Carolina with an undergraduate degree in English.


Matthew Morgan
Attorney, Moore and Van Allen PLLC

Matthew Morgan is an Attorney at Moore and Van Allen PLLC. A seasoned financial services attorney, Morgan provides his clients with sophisticated counsel in the negotiation, structuring, and documentation of subordinated, mezzanine, and more senior financing transactions, backed by traditional or non-traditional security packages, to special situations investments and other ad hoc, rescue or opportunistic lending opportunities. He also advises on loan workouts and restructurings, and the financing opportunities associated with such situations, as well as secondary loan trading of distressed credit exposures and the creation of bespoke trading documentation.

Morgan worked in law firms and at both buy-side and sell-side financial institutions in London. He spent the last four years working with the special situations group at a European financial institution NatWest Markets, with a direct lending and investment mandate complementing its credit trading business. Morgan structured and managed each of the direct lending transactions originated for this business, which varied from super senior to subordinated loans. He was also responsible for managing each restructuring situation for the positions held on book, which varied from bespoke restructurings of more direct exposures to situations involving multiple parties and different levels of credit exposures, and often a number of different jurisdictions. Morgan graduated from Southern Methodist University with a JD and from Hampden-Sydney College with an undergraduate degree in economics.


William Umbach
Partner, Adams and Reese

William Umbach is a Partner of Adams and Reese. Umbach advises businesses of all types and stages on a full range of legal matters, including mergers and acquisitions, entity formation, governance, corporate divisions, recapitalizations and other restructurings, private securities offerings, and other commercial transactions. With advanced training in taxation, he is able to help his clients organize, manage and reorganize their businesses to adapt to the changing business climate and to structure transactions in a tax-advantageous manner. He also advises on lending transactions, representing borrowers in connection with establishing and refinancing credit facilities, and lenders in connection with complex, unconventional transactions.

Before joining Adams and Reese, Umbach was an attorney at Ellis, Lawhorne, and Sims and before that an editor-in-chief at ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal. Umbach graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD, from New York University School of Law with an LLM, and from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and political science.


Laura Evans
Partner, Shumaker Loop and Kendrick

Laura Evans is a Partner at Shumaker Loop and Kendrick. Clients call on Laura when they need a health care lawyer who is experienced in the everyday, operational aspects of the industry. After litigating complex health care, toxic tort, and product liability cases for seven years, Laura served as in-house counsel for Roper St. Francis Healthcare, a Charleston-based health care system including two acute care hospitals, as well as numerous ancillary facilities and physician practices. While in-house, she oversaw a wide variety of corporate, operational, compliance, risk management, and medical staff matters, as well as managing outside counsel. The health care system was self-insured, with a self-insured trust, which impacted the reserving and handling of the system’s litigation matters, all of which she oversaw.

After serving in-house, Laura re-entered private practice and dedicated herself to providing counsel to a wide variety of health care providers. Laura often acts as outside general counsel to hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, laboratory entities, physician practices, long term care providers, post-acute care providers, independent and assisted living entities, in-home medical service entities, and specialty care facilities. Laura is certified as a mediator/arbitrator in the State of South Carolina and a certified neutral by the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA). She is dedicated to pro bono service, having led the Charleston County Bar’s response to the Mother Emanuel tragedy (which provided over 1500 hours of pro bono legal assistance to the victims’ families and survivors) for which she was named the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year.


Brett Bayne
Attorney, McAngus Goudelock and Courie

Brett Bayne is an Attorney at McAngus Goudelock and Courie. Bayne’s practice focuses on general civil litigation defense including automobile negligence, premises liability, products liability and construction defects. Brett specializes in trial litigation and seeing cases through to verdict. In his spare time, Brett teaches Trial Advocacy at the University of South Carolina School of Law and has served as the Director and Head Coach of the USC School of Law Mock Trial Bar since 2013. During that time, the Mock Trial Bar has won nine regional and national championships, repeatedly placed as finalists or semifinalists in numerous competitions, and his students have won multiple outstanding advocate awards. The Mock Trial Bar was also recently ranked 13th in the country.

Prior to joining MGC, Bayne served as judicial law clerk to the Honorable G. Thomas Cooper, Jr. He earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree in sociology and political science from Baylor University.


William Thomas
Attorney and Partner, Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein

William Thomas is an Attorney and Partner at Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein, which he first joined in 1995. For more than a century, Parker Poe has represented many of the Southeast’s largest companies and local governments in transactions, regulatory issues, and complex litigation. Their attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in the education, energy, financial services, government, health care, life sciences, manufacturing, and real estate industries. Parker Poe has more than 230 attorneys serving clients from eight offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Washington, D.C.

Previously, Thomas was an associate attorney at Nelson Mullins and before that a hospital administration resident to the Chief Operating Officer at MUSC Medical Center. Thomas earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree in political science from Washington and Lee University.


Jennifer Hollingsworth
Attorney, Nexsen Pruet

Jennifer Hollingsworth is an Attorney at Nexsen Pruet, a multi-specialty business law firm headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina. Hollingsworth is a litigator in the Health Care Practice Group. Jennifer has represented individuals and businesses in numerous courts and forums, including South Carolina’s appellate courts, circuit court, probate court, family court, administrative law court, magistrate’s court, and federal district court, as well as agency appeal forums. In addition to her litigation work, Jennifer devotes a substantial amount of her time to regulatory advice, government investigations and compliance work, including Title IX matters and representing individuals and businesses subject to various government inquiries. As a trained social worker, Jennifer’s passion for advocacy is matched with her commitment to superior service and professionalism.

Jennifer received her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, cum laude. She also received her master’s degree in Social Work from USC and was the first person to complete the JD/MSW joint degree program as a full-time student. During law school, Jennifer served on the Editorial Board for the ABA’s Real Property Probate and Trust Journal.


Kristen Hermiz
Attorney, Motley Rice

Kristen Hermiz is an Attorney at Motley Rice. She represents clients in complex multidistrict litigation in state and federal court. She also represents cities and counties, state attorneys general, and other entities in order to advance public health. Kristen also advocates for patients injured by dangerous and defective medical products. Kristen currently represents multiple governmental entities in litigation against manufacturers and distributors of highly addictive opioid drugs. She also represents hernia patients in state and federal court who allege mesh repairs harmed them. Kristen’s other clients include people who developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases caused by occupational, environmental or household asbestos exposure. On behalf of asbestos victims and their families, she has sued manufacturers, property owners and contractors who sold or installed defective or hazardous asbestos-containing products.

Prior to joining Motley Rice, Kristen was an associate for the Providence City Solicitor’s Office, arguing motions in various civil actions for the city of Providence and handling housing, zoning, employment and civil rights litigation. A Roger Williams Scholarship recipient and CALI Award winner, Kristen served as a member of The Roger Williams University Law Review and was a legal intern for the Honorable Daniel A. Procaccini of the Rhode Island Superior Court. Also a judicial extern for the Honorable Jacob Hagopian of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Kristen drafted judicial reports and made recommendations for pro se prisoner petitions. While in law school, Kristin was a law clerk for the Office of the Vice President & General Counsel at Brown University and a research assistant to law professor Edward Eberle and retired Rhode Island Superior Court Justice Stephen Fortunato.


Curtis Ott
Partner, Gallivan White and Boyd PA

Curtis Ott is a Partner at Gallivan White and Boyd PA., one of the Southeast’s leading law firms for business, with significant experience in complex litigation. Founded more than six decades ago in Greenville, South Carolina, the firm’s attorneys serve clients from four offices: Greenville, Columbia and Anderson, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. Gallivan White and Boyd attorneys are reliable problem solvers who lead clients through challenges and opportunities great and small. With 59 attorneys, Gallivan White and Boyd has the strength to tackle complex issues and the experience to negotiate favorably for its clients.

Before joining Gallivan White and Boyd PA, Ott was an attorney at Turner Padget. Ott graduated from Boston University School of Law with a JD and from Davidson College with an undergraduate degree in religion.


Jimmy Byars
Senior In-House Labor & Employment Lawyer, USAA

Jimmy Byars is a Senior In-House Labor & Employment Lawyer at USAA. USAA’s goal is to be the military community’s provider of choice for insurance, banking, financial products and advice. They have a strong track record of providing members with the highest level of care and support. This dedication has helped them grow to more than 35,000 employees.

Byars first got his start in 2010 as an associate at Nexsen Pruet, LLC. Byars graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law with a JD and from The Citadel with an undergraduate degree in criminal justice.


Frank Williams
Partner, Fox Rothschild

Frank Williams is a Managing Partner of the Greenville, SC office and a member of the firm's Executive Committee. His practice covers a range of corporate and commercial transactions, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions. He has advised corporations and limited liability companies and their ownership groups in structuring and negotiating stock and asset acquisitions and dispositions and in a variety of commercial and corporate matters, including reorganizations, organizational matters, shareholder and operating agreements, joint ventures, corporate governance and general business and contractual matters. Williams has represented commercial lending institutions and borrowers in a variety of financing transactions. Frank has also advised corporations and governmental bodies on economic incentive matters, particularly negotiated fee-in-lieu of tax transactions.

Prior to joining Fox Rothchild, Frank was a partner at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, which combined in 2018 with Fox Rothschild. Frank is an active member of his community. His past leadership positions include chair of the Upstate and Central South Carolina Regional Selection Committee for the Jefferson Scholars Program of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, chair of the Christ Church Endowment Corporation, board member of the Christ Church Episcopal School Alumni Association and board member of the Greenville Country Club. Williams graduated from University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD and from the University of Virginia with an undergraduate degree in finance.


Laura Paton
Partner, Copeland Stair Valz and Lovell

Laura Paton is a Partner in the Charleston office of Copeland, Stair, Valz & Lovell, LLP. She is co-chair of the Construction Litigation Practice Group, chair of the Diversity Committee, and a member of the General Liability Practice Group. Laura’s practice focuses primarily on Construction and Design Defect Litigation representing owners, developers, contractors and design professionals in both the development of various types of construction projects as well as in a variety of disputes. She also provides corporate and individual clients with exceptional legal services in the areas of product liability defense, personal injury defense, and premises liability defense. She has successfully developed and executed resolution plans representing corporate entities and individuals in dozens of pre-litigation disputes and litigated cases and is a certified mediator.

Laura is a published author, respected speaker, and avid volunteer. In early 2020, she was re-elected to the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA). In addition, Laura founded the SCWLA Public Service Committee and later co-chaired its successor committee “Positioning of Women for Empowerment & Recognition” (POWER) and is a member of the Palmetto Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Laura is a graduate of the South Carolina Bar Leadership Academy’s 2014 class.


Robert Clawson
Partner, Clawson and Staubes

Robert Clawson is the Partner of Clawson and Staubes. Clawson and Staubes has been providing quality legal services to clients for over 40 years. With offices in Charleston, Greenville, Columbia, and Charlotte, they work with clients to provide innovative solutions to legal problems in a broad range of practice areas throughout South Carolina and North Carolina.

Previously, Clawson was an Assistant US Attorney at the US Attorney's Office. He earned a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Brian Quisenberry
Partner, Clement Rivers

Brian Quisenberry is a Partner at Clement Rivers. More than fifty years ago, Clement Rivers, LLP was built on a strong foundation of attorneys providing the highest quality legal services for their clients. At Clement Rivers today, their philosophy and focus remain unchanged. Their firm strives to consistently exceed their clients’ expectations by delivering quality service, with integrity, at a value that recognizes the realities of today’s marketplace. Their seasoned attorneys practice in nineteen different legal areas, representing clients in almost every aspect of civil law.

Quisenberry graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a JD and from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with an undergraduate degree.