Charleston attorneys leave law firm to join a newcomer to South Carolina

A downtown law office has switched shingles after a group of lawyers left their firm for a newcomer to the Charleston legal industry.

All six attorneys previously were with Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, which expanded to the Holy City in 2011. As of this month, they work for Shumaker Loop & Kendrick LLP.

The Ohio-based firm described itself as a full-service business practice in announcing its newly opened location this week.

Shumaker is temporarily subleasing the same Calhoun Street office space that Smith Moore Leatherwood had occupied. 

“The entrance into the South Carolina market is part of an overall expansion effort for the law firm, increasing its footprint in the region and providing more expertise and practice areas for its clients,” Shumaker said in a written statement Tuesday.

Laura Johnson Evans is the managing partner of the firm’s first Palmetto State outpost. The other lawyers who joined the downtown office are: H. Michael Bowers; J. Bennett Crites III; G.P. Diminich; Kristin Balding Gutting; and Mary B. Ramsay.

Smith Moore Leatherwood managing partner Julie Earp said it’s not uncommon for attorneys to switch firms. The last local mass exodus took place in 2011, when K&L Gates recruited seven partners away from Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein’s Charleston office.

“In our business, lawyers are motivated to make moves from time to time. Indeed each of these lawyers left other positions to join our firm over the last few years,” Earp said in a written statement Wednesday. “We wish them well as they now make their next moves.”

Also, she said, while North Carolina-based Smith Moore Leatherwood does not have a physical presence in Charleston right now, “it is not necessary to have an office on every street corner to provide quality service. We have a number of lawyers who regularly service our Lowcountry clients very well, and they will continue to do so.”

Founded in 1925, Shumaker Loop & Kendrick has 265 lawyers in seven offices in five states. Scott Stevenson, a partner in its Charlotte office, said in a statement that the newly hired Charleston attorneys “were interested in joining us” and that the deal “made perfect sense.”

“We want to be in hot growth markets, and Charleston topped our wish list,” Stevenson said. “The real attraction for us, however, was the caliber of the talented, likable lawyers joining us.”

Evans, the firm’s local managing partner, noted that South Carolina and Charleston economies “are growing at a rapid pace.”

“We anticipate this growth to continue with no end or limit in sight,” she said.

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