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Please use the links to the right to check out firm news and more information relating to these specific areas of law. Happy reading and please contact us if you have any questions that we can help answer.


KellyGram – Attorney Spotlight: Lisa Long Cotten

 

 

In this week’s KellyGram, I’d like to spotlight an exceptional member of our community and the Mike Kelly Law Group legal team: my law partner, Lisa Long Cotten. Lisa has been with the firm since 2007, and her professional, community, and civic accomplishments are second to none. As an exemplary advocate and consummate professional, Lisa commands only the utmost respect from her fellow Bar members, as well as a reputation as an esteemed Social Security Disability attorney. Her clients similarly recognize the level of dedication and care with which Lisa pursues their cases, and they don’t forget it. It is not uncommon for Lisa to receive a note or phone call from a client expressing their gratitude for her help months—or even years—after their case resolved!

Not only is Lisa an exceptional advocate, but she is also a distinguished leader among the South Carolina Bar. Most recently, Lisa was recognized by the SC Bar Foundation for her outstanding work as an officer of the Board, but her involvement with the Bar does not end there. Lisa is an active member of numerous Bar committees, associations, and panels, earning her recognition as a South Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leadership in Law Honoree in 2020.

Lisa’s leadership and service extends beyond the Bar and into the community. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, a Riley Fellow, and she currently serves on the Richland County Recreation Commission Board of Commissioners. Needless to say, Lisa’s drive and commitment to serving others is nothing short of remarkable. We at Mike Kelly Law Group are honored and blessed have her on our team—thank you, Lisa, for all that you do!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – A Blessed Easter

 

 

Today is Good Friday, which is the most solemn day in the Christian church. Mike Kelly Law Group is closed in observance of this holiday, and we are looking forward to a beautiful Easter Sunday! I will be attending the outdoor Easter service at my beloved home church, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, and I am so looking forward to gathering with my fellow parishioners. It has been too long since I’ve been able to do this, and although the church’s virtual services have gotten me through the past year, it simply isn’t the same as worshiping and communing with others.

This Easter, all of us, regardless of our faith, can rejoice in the fact that the pandemic is slowly receding, and we can all look forward to the time when it will be a distant, unpleasant memory. However you choose to spend this weekend, may it be a blessed one! Enjoy yourself and take advantage of this early spring weather!

Happy Easter!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Springtime in South Carolina

 

 

It’s springtime in South Carolina, and while I enjoy every season in our beautiful state (except maybe winter!), spring is hands down my favorite. So far, this year is proving to be no exception; I like the way things are trending! Coinciding with the ramp-up in vaccinations—which will hopefully reduce the impact of COVID on our daily lives—the weather is becoming lovelier by the day. Warmer temperatures means more outdoor activities: yard work, cookouts, and for the time being, socially distanced gatherings. I, for one, am looking forward to getting my golf clubs out of storage this weekend and hitting the links!

With the cold weather limiting our ability to spend time with friends and loved ones during the pandemic, the past winter felt particularly long and dreary. At last, we are seeing more opportunities to engage in outdoor events and activities with one another, and we should make the most of it! I encourage you to get outside, soak in some sunlight, and shake off those winter doldrums! Enjoy your spring, and have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Gills Creek Watershed Association: The Crowson Road Project

 

 

As I have mentioned in past KellyGrams, the Gills Creek Watershed Association is among my favorite non-profits in Columbia, and I’ve had the privilege of serving on its board for the past four years. I admit that, historically, I was not particularly attuned to environmental issues; my interest in political and community matters generally occupied most of my attention outside of work and family. However, I was approached at church one day by two past GCWA board members who asked me to join, primarily due to my fundraising experience. I agreed, and over the past four years, I have become a stalwart advocate for this wonderful organization!

The Gills Creek Watershed runs along the series of creeks and lakes spanning from the Spring Valley area of Columbia down to the Congaree River. Gills Creek Watershed Association is an advocate for this impaired ecosystem, and there are currently plans on the drawing board to create a greenway with trails, bike paths, etc. in the area, a matter which is now in the hands of the Richland County Government. In the meantime, the GCWA has managed to obtain, through state, federal, and City of Columbia funding, a combined $650,000 grant to restore the waterway along Crowson Road, which is perhaps its most visible spot in Columbia.

For those of you who are not familiar with Crowson Road, this is the section of Gills Creek that runs from Fort Jackson Boulevard to Devine Street, adjacent to the Rosewood Crossing shopping center. This area was heavily damaged by the historic flood of October 2015, and being located in a heavily-trafficked part of Columbia, it is particularly susceptible to runoff pollution. As part of the project, the slope of the bank along this portion of Gills Creek will be adjusted to reduce erosion and runoff, and vegetation and plants will be incorporated to hold the banks in place and help remove pollutants. Construction is anticipated to begin as early as mid-April, weather permitting!

I’m excited for this improvement to our city and our local environment, and I am proud to be a part of the group that is making it happen! I encourage you all to consider supporting Gills Creek Watershed Association, Congaree Riverkeeper, and other like-minded organizations focused on keeping our community clean and beautiful!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – The Pandemic: One Year Later

 

 

Tomorrow, March 13th, will mark one year since South Carolina entered a state of emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been reflecting this week on just how very different life is today as opposed to one year ago, and I wonder how many of the changes that we’ve implemented will remain the “new normal” after society fully reopens. Although it has not been easy to adapt to life as we now know it, I think that there will be some long-term good that comes from this!

For instance, much of the work we do at Mike Kelly Law Group—including depositions, mediations, court hearings—now takes place over Zoom or WebEx, and soon we should be able to attend Social Security Disability hearings via video-conferencing as well. Before COVID-19, attorneys like myself regularly traveled all over the state to appear at these events in-person; I suspect that even when the pandemic is long behind us, virtual attendance will be much more commonplace due to its sheer convenience.

One thing that is simply amazing to me is that, at this one-year mark, I am able to say that I will be eligible for my second vaccine next week. Although the past twelve months have, in some respects, felt infinitely long, the progress that we have made during this time in terms of understanding and combatting the COVID-19 virus is truly incredible. This week, the CDC issued its first set of guidelines for fully vaccinated people, and while we certainly won’t be resuming our pre-pandemic lives in the immediate future, the vaccine offers limited freedoms that will make a world of difference. Perhaps most importantly, it will allow families and loved ones to safely reunite after a year of isolation.

Gradually, things are starting to look up, and even better days are just around the corner! In the meantime, let’s do our part by staying safe, following CDC guidelines, and taking the necessary precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – The Joys of Being a Grandparent

 

 

This week’s KellyGram is all about a little lady who has stolen my heart: my first and only grandchild, Helena! Helena, who is named after my mother, is blessed with two wonderful parents (though I’m admittedly a little biased, as one happens to be my son!) and four doting grandparents—including yours truly! Last week, I had the chance to visit with Helena twice, and I must say that every time I see her, I somehow manage to grow even fonder of that special young lady! On Sunday, during our most recent visit, I noticed that no matter what activity Helena was engaged in—whether it be playing outside, jumping on the bed, or sitting on my lap—she seemed to be having a marvelous time, which in turn uplifted the hearts and spirits of everyone present.

I watch in wonder as my granddaughter grows up, learns social cues, and becomes more fluent with her speech. Helena is an extremely smart and precocious young girl, and I expect that this will only become more apparent when she starts Montessori school in the fall. I am so thankful to have this precious life be a part of my own, and I look forward to all of the wonderful memories in store for us as Helena continues to grow and develop into an awesome child of God!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – A Sobering Milestone

 

 

On Monday, our beloved country reached a grave milestone: half a million COVID deaths. From the lens of my day-to-day, the past year has certainly been emotionally difficult, but in the grand scheme of things, I have only glimpsed the gravity of the loss that this pandemic has brought to the people of this nation and across the globe. Although I have known individuals who have fought and lost the battle with COVID-19, I am extremely fortunate to be able to say that those closest to me have remained safe and healthy during this crisis. As such, when I take a step back from my immediate reality and try to process the loss of more than 500,000 American lives to COVID-19, the number is so staggering that I struggle to wrap my mind around it.

Earlier this week, in a message to his parishioners, my priest—Mitch Smith of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, whom I often turn to for inspiration for the KellyGram—offered some sobering perspective. He reminded us that “500,000” is not just a number; each of those individual souls had a name, and they had a story. They had friends and family—loved ones who have been alone in their grief as funeral receptions and gatherings are placed on hold. There are very few of us who do not know the sorrow of losing someone we love; in my case, I have had to say goodbye to my grandparents, then to my parents, and six years ago, to my late wife, Anne. The thought of facing that pain in isolation is simply unbearable, and I mourn for those who have been forced to do so by this pandemic just as I mourn the lives lost to it.

However, Mitch also reminded his readers that, while it is important to stay mindful of the magnitude of loss surrounding this pandemic, we should balance this sadness by finding hope where we can: in the declining numbers of positive COVID cases and hospitalizations, in the growing number of vaccines being administered, and in the coming together of our community to put an end to this nightmare. So, as we mourn lives lost and continue to offer support, comfort, and prayer to those who are grieving, let us also celebrate progress and allow ourselves to feel optimistic that a brighter future awaits.

Stay hopeful,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Legal Marketing in the Modern Era

 

Earlier this week, I was asked by a long-time acquaintance how Mike Kelly Law Group has continued to survive in South Carolina’s increasingly oversaturated legal market. It was a good question, so I told my friend I’d give it some thought and get back to them. Their theory was that there is simply no way a small law firm like ours could survive—and indeed thrive—in today’s hypercompetitive environment. As we all know, you cannot even turn on the TV these days without seeing three or four consecutive ads by a number of legal players whose names need no introduction!

So, I sat down and considered the question—how has Mike Kelly Law Group been able to do so well in such a competitive field? After much thought, I believe that these principles are the keys to our firm’s success:

1) It’s all about client service;

2) It’s all about the personal touch; and

3) It’s always striving to be the best lawyers and legal staff that we can be.

Ultimately, these are the ingredients to creating a positive client experience, and happy clients pay it forward by recommending Mike Kelly Law Group’s services to others! Historically, the majority of our firm’s clients have learned about us through word-of-mouth referrals, and the same is true today. More recently, Google reviews by satisfied clients have also begun to play an increasingly important role in generating new business and setting us apart from the competition online.

After sufficiently pondering and answering the question before me, I wanted to get down on my knees and thank the Lord above that our phones ring daily and that deserving men and women in need of our services continue to find their way to our doors. I am deeply grateful to our many clients and friends who support and refer others to the firm, and to the talented men and women at Mike Kelly Law Group who dedicate themselves to providing clients with exceptional legal services!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

PS – While we’re on the topic of marketing…the Mike Kelly Law Group website got a makeover this week! I encourage you to check it out here!

 

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KellyGram – Making Lemonade

 

I looked at my weather app yesterday morning and saw that both the Midlands and the Grand StrandMike Kelly Law Group’s primary service areas—have rain in the forecast for the next SEVEN consecutive days! WOW! Is it just me, or haven’t we had enough rain for a while?

If our mood was dependent on the weather (which it is not), the days to come could leave us feeling dreary. Instead, this is the time to turn lemons into lemonade! There are other ways to add sunshine and brightness to our lives if we know where to look for them!

For example, folks in Columbia can get creative by picking up one of Studio Cellar’s Take Home Paint Kits or signing up for sip-and-paint classes (virtually or in-person), enjoy an oyster roast this Thursday at The Grand, or find some Zen through a socially-distanced yoga class at The Rooted Community (also available over Zoom!). You can also check out Columbia’s annual Guitar Gala, or play trivia hosted by the Columbia Museum of Art, without leaving the comfort of your home!

For those of you in the Grand Strand, there are plenty of options to choose from—from catching a show at GTS Theatre or The Carolina Opry Theater, to exploring local folklore and history by trolley, to enjoying a four-course dinner for two in the Shark Tunnel at Ripley’s Aquarium!

In spite of the limitations brought on by COVID-19 and the gloomy weather ahead, there are still so many ways to stay active in our great state of South Carolina, and slowly but surely, more opportunities are beginning to open up. Although some might say we are in the metaphorical eye of the hurricane with respect to the pandemic, week by week we are seeing case numbers decline and more vaccines being administered. So let’s stay safe and stay positive, and make the most out of the coming days!

Have a great weekend, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Health on the Horizon

 

During these cold, dark days of winter, it is easy to find oneself in low spirits; however, I’d like to focus on the reasons to be optimistic right now! The American people, including my fellow South Carolinians, continue to demonstrate incredible resilience as we navigate the uncertainty of this pandemic, and at long last, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that health is finally on the way!

I’m feeling especially encouraged by the recent ramping-up of vaccine administration. It is incredible to see how many people are volunteering to work at vaccine sites in order to keep the inoculation process moving forward. Better still, the distribution of vaccines to pharmacies beginning next week will make the shot more widely available and further speed things along. We are steadily moving in the direction of normalcy!

On a personal note, I will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning Monday, and you can bet I’ll be signing up for an appointment right away! Still, I know that it will be months before the shot becomes available to everyone who wishes to receive it. Please continue to pray for the swift administration of vaccines and the health and safety of all during this unprecedented time! We will get through this together!

God Bless!

 

Mike Kelly

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