I am a sole practitioner with my practice in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. I opened this office in 1993. I graduated from Haverford College in 1984 and from Temple University School of Law, Cum Laude, in 1991. I have been a member of the South Carolina Bar since 1992 and practicing family law since 1993. I am also licensed to practice in the Federal District of South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. I am the Treasurer for the Charleston County Family Court Liaison Committee and the Past-President of the South Carolina Bar Trial and Appellate Advocacy Council.
My practice’s emphasis is in family law‑‑especially divorce, child custody and child support‑‑though I also handle personal injury, criminal law and appeals. Among the published opinions from family law appeals I have handled are the cases of Upchurch v. Upchurch, Emery v. Smith, Moore v. Moore and Abate v. Abate.
My goal is to provide clients with zealous, competent and reasonably priced legal services. I do not employ secretaries or paralegals, so my clients do not have to go through layers of staff to speak to me, nor do they have the problem of a paralegal knowing their case better than their attorney does. My background in appeals and legal research provides my clients access to an extensive database of written materials examining common family court issues that can be utilized in their cases at minimal cost. Through the use of computer technology, I have been able to streamline procedures, allowing me to handle legal problems efficiently while enabling me to focus on the unique aspects of each case. Through use of e‑mail, optical text recognition, forms and other modern communication devices, I can often provide clients better representation at a lower cost by allowing the client to do much of the basic fact gathering under my guidance.
My belief is that clients are best served when I provide dual roles as their lawyer: counselor and advocate. In the counselor role (which is always private), I try to guide clients to engage in ethically and legally correct behavior and develop and pursue realistic legal goals. In the advocate role, I zealously pursue client goals in my dealings with other parties, attorneys and the court. I practice family law because I believe it is important to help parents develop and maintain relationships with their children and to help spouses preserve their lifestyle when their marriage is no longer working. In providing both counsel and advocacy to my clients, I believe I can help them achieve these important goals.
A sizable portion of my practice is dedicated to research and development of lecture materials and articles on family law topics. Most of this research and written material can be classified into two general areas. The first area is an attempt to categorize discrete topics of law. Such topics include materials on getting a spouse out of the house, common procedural problems in domestic abuse or contempt proceedings, low cost methods of litigating custody cases and ways of modifying child custody. I find the development of such lecture and written materials forces me to turn generalized knowledge into a systematic and easily usable form.
My other area of legal research and writing is on predicted or suggested development of cutting-edge legal topics. Such topics include privacy rights, limitations on family court authority to override parental decision-making, economic analysis of relocation cases, developing a coherent theory of the guardian ad litem‘s role in private custody cases, examining the burden of proof in child abuse and neglect cases, and fighting the morality police in family court custody cases. My goal in these lectures and articles is to educate and hopefully guide lawyers and judges in developing areas of the law.
Some of these materials have been published in the American Journal of Family Law, South Carolina Lawyer and The Bulletin (the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association magazine). Among my published articles are Creating or Defeating South Carolina Jurisdiction in Multi-State Custody or Support Actions, A Dozen Grade ‘A’ Strategies: Winning Custody Cases Without Bankrupting Your Client, Representing the (Innocent) Wage-earner in Child Custody and Divorce, Joint Legal Custody: What Is It? Why Have It?, Obtaining Relief From Family Court Temporary Orders, Four Rule to Show Cause Pitfalls to Avoid, Five Ways to Get a Spouse out of the House, Modifying Child Custody, Contingency Fees and Interest in Collecting Child Support and Alimony, Family Law Issues After a Spouse or Parent Dies, Some Constitutional Issues When Representing Parents Against Accusations of Abuse or Neglect and Ordering a Spouse out of the House on an Ex-Parte Basis.
I have lectured for the South Carolina Bar, the National Business Institute and the Charleston County Family Court Bar. I have been a repeat presenter at the South Carolina Bar’s Family Law “Hot Tips” and “Cool Tips” seminars and the Family Court’s Bench/Bar, an annual continuing legal education program for Family Court Judges. I have also organized and moderated legal education seminars for the South Carolina Bar. Since 2001, I have co-sponsored and moderated an annual Charleston County Family Court Bar legal education seminar. I developed, moderated and presented state-wide legal seminars devoted to appellate issues for the South Carolina Bar’s annual convention in January 2006 and on representing parents in abuse and neglect proceedings for the South Carolina Bar in August 2007. In October 2008 I lectured for the American Bar Association’s semi-annual Family Law Section on Lump Sum Alimony. In January 2009, I developed and moderated the annual guardian ad litem training for the Charleston County Family Court bar; this legal seminar will be repeated statewide in January 2010. I also am an occasional guest lecturer at the Charleston School of Law.
My extensive lecturing, publishing and appellate practice enhances my ability to litigate family law cases at the trial level. Such work keeps me abreast of the latest trends in family law practice and leads to a greater appreciation of the factual and legal issues that need to be addressed in a typical family court trial.