The Columbia-based Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough law firm is expanding westward with a new office in Los Angeles, where it plans to offer West Coast clients a full range of legal services, the firm’s leader said.
To meet the goal, Nelson Mullins hired five California-based attorneys with experience in the motor vehicle industry, according to managing partner Jim Lehman, who said a West Coast expansion had been under evaluation “for some time.”
Establishing offices in the west will enable the firm to serve its national clients better, Lehman said.
“With any professional services firm, what benefits your clients, generally comes back to benefit the law firm,” he said. “In this case, we believe we’ve put together a team of professionals that are going to provide significant added benefit to our clients in the auto industry, and ultimately, we think that will benefit the broader firm.”
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The five new California attorneys join more than 25 other Nelson Mullins attorneys in the firm’s franchise and distribution law and litigation group, which serve regional, national and international clientele, the law firm said.
Nelson Mullins is South Carolina’s largest law firm, according to South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, a profession trade news publication. It also is the 103rd largest law firm in the United States, according to the monthly law magazine, The American Lawyer. In 2016, Nelson Mullins earned $380.4 million in fees, it said.
Nelson Mullins was founded in 1897. The firm now has more than 500 attorneys and other professionals, the firm said. Later this year, the firm may be named among the 100 largest law firms in the United States, according to industry publications.
In South Carolina, Nelson Mullins is a recognized leader by the American Bar Association in both its compensated and pro bono legal work. The firm’s attorneys led a successful legal fight for prison reform in the state and a 21-year effort to prove the state had failed to provide its poorest students with a “minimally adequate” education.
Several of its attorneys have been longtime public servants, including former S.C. Gov. Dick Riley, who also served as U.S. education secretary under President Bill Clinton, and former S.C. House Speaker David Wilkins, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Canada.
Nelson Mullins also has developed attorneys who have held several leadership positions in various law institutions, including Florence native William C. Hubbard, who was named American Bar Association president in 2014, the first South Carolinian named to that post.
“You have people who are deeply committed to their communities and deeply committed to the (Bar),” Lehman said. “We feel like we’ve tried to make a positive impact in all of our communities, but in South Carolina in particular, we hope we have made a difference here.”
Nelson Mullins’ franchise and distribution clients extend from start-up companies to established franchisors, the firm said. Industries served range from hotels and restaurants, to retail stores, vehicle manufacturers, tax preparation services, real estate brokerages and amateur and professional sports leagues, the firm said.
In the past two years, Nelson Mullins has expanded into New York and Denver, Colo., and now has offices in nine states and the District of Columbia, including Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398
A Snapshot of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
502 – attorneys overall; 205 in South Carolina; 120 in Columbia
$321.5 million – gross revenue
$115.5 million – net profit
$520,000 – average compensation per partner
Top Five Largest Law Firms in South Carolina (2016)
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough; based in Columbia; 205 attorneys in S.C.
Nexsen Pruett; based in Columbia; 126 attorneys in S.C.
Haynsworth, Sinkler & Boyd; based in Columbia; 109 attorneys in S.C.
The McNair Firm; based in Columbia; 95 attorneys in S.C.
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie; based in Columbia; 78 attorneys in S.C.
Source: The American Lawyer, the law firms