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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 – Celebrating 150 Years!

 

 

The 2019 South Carolina State Fair is here! I have lived in South Carolina for 49 years now, and I’m sure I’ve visited the State Fair at least that many times. The tradition started when I was having a good time as a college student, and it was kind of like the Wild, Wild West out there! Once my boys came along, my visits to the fair were much tamer—though even more enjoyable—as I took them to ride rides, eat cotton candy, and play games. With Mac and Patrick all grown up, I haven’t been to the State Fair in quite some time, but that’s about to change—I’m a senior citizen now, and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of that hard-earned senior discount!

This year, the South Carolina State Fair is celebrating its 150th year anniversary, and it’s going to be spectacular! The new 150 Celebration Wheel ride is making its American debut right in our home state, complete with temperature-controlled gondolas large enough for 6 people and views from 150ft! There will be special exhibits and collector’s items available in celebration of the fair’s 150th anniversary, and it will be the theme of the much-beloved Sandscapes exhibit. The schedule is packed with live entertainment—including CIRCUS at the Fair and South Carolina Philharmonic’s “Conduct the Phil” series—and I’m excited to check it all out (though I’ll skip the livestock, LOL!) and eat some delicious fair fare! Hope to see you there—meet me at the rocket!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – My Friend Bruce

 

 

I am blessed to have many friends, but I regretfully lost a very dear one on September 24, 2019—Bruce Carter. Bruce graduated law school one class ahead of me, and unlike many of us who pursued the more lucrative areas of law, Bruce dedicated his career to public service. In his final years, he worked in the field of Medicare/Medicaid for the state government and became THE go-to guy on the subject in South Carolina. Aside from his vocation, Bruce loved his family; he married to his longtime best friend, Judy, and had two daughters. He made it his life’s mission to serve his God, his family, his church, and his community. He was a pious man with incredible intellect and compassion. When Associate Director of our beloved St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Susan Prinz, delivered the homily during Bruce’s service on Wednesday, her message rang powerfully and true when she described Bruce as being summed up in a single word: he was a man of heart.

Not only was Bruce a devoted family man, he was one of the most active parishioners at our beloved St. Martin’s. He served as a lector, vestry member, and participated in numerous outreach ministries with the church. When he developed symptoms of heart disease several years ago, he became an avid volunteer with the South Carolina Heart Association, and still found the time to work at the Diocesan level as an expert on canon (church) law.

Bruce was, without question, a great man, and he will be sorely missed. I, for one, will miss our conversations about politics, Gamecock athletics, and our church and community. Still, it brings a smile to my face to think about those talks, and how many of them took place in the aisles of the Forest Drive Kroger, where we always seemed to run in to one another. It is strange to think that our paths will not intersect again in this life; that he is gone. But be that as it may, Bruce will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Golfing with the Phil

 

 

On Monday, I had the pleasure of participating in the 11th Annual Golfing with the Phil tournament hosted at the Members’ Club at Woodcreek. I’ve been lucky enough to have played in this tournament many times, and I love it so much that, for the past several years, I’ve served as the event’s co-chair with Tom Fortson of Terminix. Our goal is to raise funds for the ongoing operations of our world-class South Carolina Philharmonic and to have a darn good time doing it! Thanks to the efforts of the Phils’ dedicated staff, our sponsors, and the participating teams, I’m pleased to report that the event was a success on both counts!

Our major sponsors for this year’s tournament were Terminix, McDaniels Auto Group, and Any Lab Test Now!, with delectable in-kind contributions from Doc’s BBQ (lunch) and Graham’s Catering (dinner). As a local foodie, I was especially delighted to meet Graham Fortson, Tom’s grandson, who just opened his own catering business. Though still a young’un, he already has a wealth of experience and culinary talents, and I predict he will be another rising star in the ever-improving Columbia food scene!

As always, it was an honor to be a part of Golfing with the Phil and to support such a remarkable organization. The South Carolina Philharmonic is truly flourishing under the leadership of Maestro Morihiko who, since joining on in 2008, has taken the Phil to new limits and grown it into one of the finest performing arts groups in the state. If you haven’t been to a concert yet, you’re missing out on some of the finest entertainment South Carolina has to offer! The SC Philharmonic’s season begins October 12th with “Visiones de Musica” in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and their full schedule is available here. I hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Choosing Joy

 

 

Several weeks ago, I heard an excellent sermon on the subject of joy, and a just few days later, a morning devotional on the same topic appeared in my inbox. The consecutive messages caused me to pause and look inward toward my day-to-day emotional state. It quickly became clear to me that I do not allocate enough of my mental bandwidth toward celebrating the many things that bring me joy. Like all humans, regardless of their faith, I tend to become absorbed by the secular aspects of my life and, without realizing it, develop stress and anxiety over work issues, family issues, health issues, political issues environmental issues…..the list goes on and on.

The truth is, when I take ten steps back and view the totality of my life, I realize that I have been a damn lucky fellow—I am blessed beyond measure! So many aspects of my life inspire joy—my family and friends, my job, my church, my Gamecocks, my golf game (though it could use quite a bit of improvement!), and a wealth of subjects and activities that interest me. I simply spend too much of my time and energy living in my own head, with its worries, doubts, and preoccupations, instead of enjoying the present moment and all of the wonder it has to offer. As I’ve been more mindful of this tendency over the past few weeks, I have made an effort to pay more attention to the things that bring me joy. Not surprisingly, doing so has made me more resilient to the “issues” that inevitably arise each day, and I’m better for it!

But don’t take it from me—see for yourself! I encourage you to spend three minutes reflecting on the things in life, great or small, that bring you joy and start your weekend off in high spirits. You deserve it!

 

Have a blessed weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Columbia’s Finest

 

 

Around 2:00am last Friday morning—after a pleasant evening filled with gratitude over the fact that my office and condo in Myrtle Beach were largely unscathed by the ravage of Hurricane Dorian, and with celebration over the Atlanta Braves’ victory over their division rivals, the Washington Nationals—I was sound asleep when my smoke alarm suddenly began blaring. My wife and I, along with our pup, Millie, got up quickly; I immediately made sure that my son, Patrick, and my beautiful granddaughter, Helena, were safely out of the house and called 9-1-1!

Fewer than five minutes later, as I ran through my smoke-filled house searching for the flames, a hook and ladder truck, two pumper trucks, and an ambulance arrived on scene and took control of the situation. Altogether, ten men and women came to my family’s rescue, and they handled the incident professionally and superbly—to say that I was impressed with their knowledge and attention to detail is an understatement. They quickly located the source of the fire (my HVAC unit) and, thankfully, were able to extinguish it with only minimal damage to my home.

Though the experience certainly was not what I would call a pleasant one, I could not be more thankful for the safety of my family, the security of my home, and the outstanding team that came to our aid. My hat is off to the first responders from the Columbia Fire Department, so much so that I have sung their praises to Mayor Benjamin, Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, and City Council and their staff. How lucky we are to have these exceptional men and women serving to protect the city of Columbia!

 

Have a blessed weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Overcoming the Wrath of Dorian

 

 

The past several days have been surreal, tracking Hurricane Dorian as it dispensed its wrath on the Bahamas and began making its way toward South Carolina. As we prepared for and endured the storm—all the while doing everything in our power to help those already impacted—I was amazed by the resilience of the human spirit, including my firm family at Mike Kelly Law Group.

Our lead paralegal in Myrtle Beach, Linda Willis, lives in the border community of Loris, SC. It, like the rest of the state, shares a rich history, and she has lived there all of her life. On Thursday morning, at approximately 7:00am, one of Linda’s granddaughters alerted her to an ominous noise from outside, which turned out to be the sound of a humongous tree being ripped from her front yard by a tornado! Linda instinctively grabbed her grandkids in time to shelter them, as best as she could, from the next and even more terrifying boom—that of a utility pole being hurled to the ground immediately by their home. Thanks be to God that no one was injured, though the experience will be seared in her and her granddaughters’ memories forever. 

And while Linda and her family were praying for their survival, MKLG’s rising-star litigation attorney, Karlen Senn, was already actively working alongside her family to get supplies and aid to her many loved ones living in the Abaco Islands, Bahamassome of whom are injured or even missing, all of whom are facing unimaginable hardship. Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and stripped thousands of inhabitant—including those who are as, in effect, family to Karlen and her daughter—of their homes, their livelihoods, and their access to basic human necessities. But while the gravity of the situation could easily be debilitating, but rather than caving under its weight, Karlen and her family immediately began getting relief efforts underway. They are working with Southeast Rescue and Relief to get generators, tents, tarps, and other staples to the island, and plan to deliver the first load of supplies this weekend.**

The wreckage that Hurricane Dorian left in its wake is utterly devastating, and I will not pretend that there was any silver lining in its storm clouds. But I can find inspiration in the strength and perseverance that arises in response to such tragedy, like that demonstrated by Karlen and Linda. The road to recovery will be a long and arduous one, but not insurmountable. While Dorian may have been one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, hope, community, and human will are stronger. The sun will shine again! 

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

**If you would like to help with the Senn family’s relief efforts in the Bahamas, donations can be made to Southeastern Rescue and Relief here. Please be sure to indicate that the contribution is for Sandy Senn’s relief efforts to ensure that the funds are directed to this cause. Thank you for your consideration.

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KellyGram – Kicking Off Football Season!

 

 

The most magical time of the year is finally upon us—football season! As I mentioned in last week’s KellyGram, my love for sports spans far and wide (though I’m particularly partial to the Atlanta Braves and Gamecocks), but nothing gets me charged up quite like college football! Our rivals—albeit the favorite team of my son Mac and MKLG partner Brad Hewett—the Clemson Tigers, kicked off their season last night with a win against Georgia Tech, and the Gamecocks will begin their 2019 season tomorrow, playing against UNC Chapel Hill at the Bank of America stadium in Charlotte. Having taken a beating from an ACC team in the Belk Bowl, we owe it to ourselves and our conference to really bring down the house tomorrow—I’m hoping for an all-out blowout!

But while I love going to the games and watching the Gamecocks play, what really makes football season my favorite time of year is the tailgating and camaraderie, renewing old acquaintances, and the tremendous displays of school spirit. So sit back, relax, and enjoy—2019 college football is here!

Have a great weekend, and Go Gamecocks!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – No “I” in Team

 

 

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the USC Gamecocks and the Atlanta Braves—hands down, they’re my two favorite teams. This season has been a great one for the Braves, and they’re currently leading the National League East Division. Still, their long-time, former manager, Robert “Bobby” Cox—who is in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame—is my favorite MLB manager of all time, second to none! He stood up for his players, and if ever one of them was in danger of getting thrown out of the game, he marched out onto the field and took on the umpire’s fire. In his last season, Sports Illustrated featured a cover story on Cox—specifically about the 156 times he was ejected from the game during his career as a MLB manager.

Bobby Cox has had two successors since retiring from the Braves, and this past Sunday, the current manager, Brian Snitker, stood up for his team in a different but equally unforgettable way. In a most important game against the LA Dodgers—currently the best team in Major League Baseball—Snitker pulled the Braves’ most promising player, Ronald Acuna, Jr., out of the game after he lost time admiring a play instead of running it. The decision shocked fans because, frankly, no one with more potential has ever worn an Atlanta Braves uniform than the 21 year-old All-Star. When asked how he could unceremoniously bench an MLB prodigy in a critical game, Snitker said—and I quote—“As a teammate, you’re responsible for 24 other guys and that name on the front is a lot more important than that name on the back of that jersey.”

 

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Snitker’s decision delivered a lesson and reminder, to Acuna and fans alike, that no one player—no matter how talented—is more valuable than his team, and maintaining a collective mindset is critically important to a team’s success. To drive this point home, a player only just pulled up from the minor leagues hit a grand slam homerun to beat the Dodgers 5-3! And if there was any doubt as to whether Snitker’s decision to bench Acuna was anything but an act of tough love, it was resolved on Wednesday when the manager, in a very Bobby Cox fashion, was ejected from the game after heatedly defending his star player.


The message transcends baseball, and it inspired me to pause and reflect on our team philosophy at Mike Kelly Law Group. Although we strive to duly recognize individual accomplishments, the key ingredient to our firm’s success has always been to work and think as a team and leverage the talents and interests of each “player” in furtherance of providing our clients with the best possible experiences and results. Our 21 employees recognize the importance of their individual roles in the representation framework and that no one person can be credited with a courtroom victory. We push each other, uplift each other, and help each other, and like the Braves, this strategy works for our team!

Have a great weekend, and Go Braves!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Johnny’s Miracle

 

 

I am blessed to have made many friends in my lifetime, but few are as close to me as my dear pal Johnny Etheridge. Johnny is a fellow attorney who has practiced with the Gardner Law Firm in the Pee Dee for years and years. We have known each other for quite a long time and, having both been blessed—and cursed—with many common personality traits, we have a unique understanding of one another. We help each other through life’s ups and downs, and in many respects, Johnny is as much a brother to me as a friend.

Recently, Johnny was informed that he needed major eye surgery as a result of elevated pressure in his eye. He availed himself of every conservative measure to avoid surgery, knowing that there were serious risks associated with the procedure. But when those treatments did not relieve his symptoms, Johnny had little choice but to go through with the operation. So two weeks ago, my dear friend traveled to Duke for his scheduled surgery, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. He went in for his pre-operative visit the morning before the procedure, but when the technician checked his pressures, they were within normal limits. In disbelief, the technician called for the surgeon, who performed the tests a second time. The results were the same: the pressure in Johnny’s eye had subsided. The surgeon, too, was astonished—Johnny no longer needed surgery, and his recovery was nothing short of a miracle.

Before that fateful pre-operative appointment, all of Johnny’s friends, family, employees, and supporters—myself included—prayed for a successful operation and Johnny’s speedy recovery. But we underestimated the grace of God! He blessed Johnny with an even better outcome—one that no one thought possible. He worked a true miracle. I, for one, broke down in tears when Johnny’s wife, Pam, called to give me the good news. Johnny Etheridge is a good man who has dedicated much of his life to helping others; he has touched countless lives and is loved by many. This was a blessing bestowed upon a very deserving follower of Christ, and it was a reminder to all that we must never lose faith.


We love you, Johnny, and we thank you for sharing your miracle! God is good!

Have a blessed weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – A Human Rights Crisis

 

 

Last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, really rocked the fabric of this nation. Though I’m generally reluctant to take on political topics in the KellyGram, I’m making an exception this week for the critically important issue of gun control. 

Let me confess upfront: I am not a gun owner and probably never will be. I have many friends with guns, and as an attorney of 40+ years, I respect the American Constitution and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But given the increasing violence and bloodshed in this country, there need to be limits—we must strike a balance among the rights of American people. Is the right to own an AR-15 more important than a person’s right to life and limb? Thirty-one people died last weekend alone in mass shootings. On Wednesday, Amnesty International issued a travel warning to those entering the US to exercise caution due to “rampant gun violence” that “amounts to a human rights crisis.” These shootings continue to kill, injure, and terrorize the people of the United States, and thoughts and prayers simply are not sufficient to address this epidemic. They will not prevent this from happening again, and again, and again. What we need, more than anything, is leadership and change.  

I think we need two major actions from our political leaders in Washington. The first is to restrict access to guns of any sort by individuals with mental illness placing them at risk for violence and by people who have a known propensity to use guns inappropriately; this can only come in the form of background checks. The second one is a no-brainer – we need an outright ban on assault weapons of all types. I came across two things this week that made a lot of sense to me. The first of these was an op-ed piece, written by a gun owner and retired veterinarian from North Carolina, emphasizing that there is no logical reason why the general public should have access to assault rifles designed to kill mass numbers of people; the bottom line is it’s contrary to the interests of public safety. 

Another source of inspiration for writing this particular KellyGram came from my priest, Mitch Smith, in his sermon last Sunday morning at my beloved home church, St. Martin’s-in-the Fields Episcopal Church. Mitch had originally planned to deliver a stewardship sermon, but when he woke up Sunday morning and grabbed his phone, he learned of the dual tragedies. When he ascended to the pulpit, he confessed that he is seldom nervous when delivering a sermon, but he was actually trembling because really didn’t know what words would come out of his mouth. It was one of the most moving sermons I have ever witnessed—and I’m pretty sure he did it without notes! It made me realize that sometimes speaking from the heart is better than some scripted response, and sometimes we need to speak from the heart when an issue is important us—even if others may not agree with what we have to say. 

And so I say: it is time to step up, speak out, and spark change. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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