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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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KellyGram – The Disturbing Rise of Traffic Fatalities in South Carolina

 

 

Over the past several weeks, I have been watching the media reports in horror as we’ve seen a sharp uptick in deadly automobile crashes around the Midlands and throughout South Carolina. With our state already ranked as home to the second-worst drivers in the United States—in large part due to the number of DUIs and traffic fatalities we see per capita—this increase is especially alarming. Last weekend alone, thirteen people lost their lives in avoidable automobile accidents in South Carolina, four of which occurred in the Midlands. On Monday, tragedy struck once more when a motorcyclist was involved in a crash with a semi-truck on I-26. On Wednesday, our Midlands roadways claimed two more victims—one in a crash on I-20 and another on Farrow Road. To say that this has been a grim week for the people of South Carolina is an understatement, and it is time that we put measures in place to prevent the loss of more lives—lives of our parents, of our sons and daughters, of our brothers and sisters and friends.

My career requires regular travel between our offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro, and seeing the victims of traffic accidents walk through my doors almost daily, I strive to remain attentive and alert at all times when I’m behind the wheel. The greatest temptation for me—and for most drivers—is to reach for my phone on long stretches of road, but these handheld devices are undoubtedly contributing to the drastic rise in accidents. Last week, I was driving through Georgia and realized, for the first time, that our neighboring state has banned drivers from holding cellphones while driving. South Carolina, on the other hand, has only banned texting and driving—a law that is difficult to enforce, as drivers can simply avoid a penalty by stating that they were using their phone for reasons other than texting. If you find this reality as frustrating as I do, I think we can agree that it’s time for the General Assembly to enact a hands-free law similar to Georgia’s, and similar to those in nearly half of our nation’s states.

But until we see these measures implemented, we can work to decrease the number of traffic fatalities in our state by acknowledging that we are neither invincible nor perfect drivers, and by being more responsible behind the wheel. Let’s make a promise to ourselves and others on the roadways to put down our phones, to follow the speed limits, and to call a cab or a friend rather than driving after indulging. After all—our lives depend on it.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – In Loving Memory

 

 

Earlier this month, my beloved in-laws, Charlie and Anne Garrison, passed away only five days apart from one another; they had been married for 64 years when they died. I am honored to have been part of their family for the last 15 of those years and, suffice it to say, they will be remembered with love and deeply missed.

Charlie was an astute businessman—a banker by profession—and Anne was a genteel Southern lady and socialite, and an adoring mother to their two daughters. Anne and Charlie lived admirably, prioritizing their loved ones and their profound faith in their Creator. They dedicated themselves to their family, their church, and their friends. They were well-respected, had vibrant social lives, and they always enjoyed a good cocktail party! But of the many takeaways from the wonderful lives of Charlie and Anne Garrison, I found their love and devotion to one another to be the most powerful and inspiring.

Though we shared our differences from time to time, as families do, my in-laws were truly a tremendous blessing to me over the past 15 years. Through good times and bad, they honored me as a lifelong member of their family, and I, them. We shared a caring relationship—we spoke often and kept one another in our daily prayers. The world was a better place for all whose lives were touched by Charlie and Anne, and I am fortunate enough to be one of them. May they rest, together, in peace.

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – With Gratitude

 

 

My marketing manager and dear friend, Jamie Smith, and I get together each week to brainstorm KellyGram topics, and this week’s conversation led to a discussion on gratitude. Living in a society that instills in us a desire to always have more, and in the age of social media, where we see insights into the seemingly “picture-perfect” lives of our friends and acquaintances, it becomes very easy to stay focused on wanting the things that we don’t have instead of appreciating all that we already do. Practicing gratitude helps to combat this disillusion and promotes happiness and contentment in the present. And so, in the hopes of offering up a little inspiration to start your weekend, this week’s KellyGram is a reflection on my personal gratitude.

The last several years have been full of blessings and challenges in my own life, just like everyone else who is reading this week’s newsletter. I can sit here at my desk, in our my new office at 1523 Huger Street, and rattle off a long list of the problems, failures, health troubles, family issues, and professional challenges that chip away at my gratitude. When I think back on my career, with all of its successes, it’s not the thousands of people I’ve helped over the years that spring first into my mind—it’s the ones I couldn’t help. So, though I like to think that I am an upbeat and positive person, like so many of us, I have to work to ward off my inner critic when life’s obstacles arise.

To do this, I take an inventory of all of the things in this world for which I am grateful, and suddenly my handful of troubles pale in comparison. At the top of my list are my deep and unfaltering love for my family; my faith—especially my two home churches, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields in Columbia and St. Stephen’s Episcopal in North Myrtle Beach; my friends; my mental and physical health; and my career, coworkers and clients. Each day, I have food, shelter, water, and a bed to sleep in at night. I have people I can rely on and people who rely on me. I have my local haunts where the menu is great and the company’s better, and I live in a town that is flourishing and has so much to offer. I truly am one blessed individual and am thankful to God for all that he has given me. There are things that happened (or didn’t happen) in my life that I didn’t understand at the time. But quite like the Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers” (which is rattling around in my head at this very moment!), as time goes by, I continue to look back and realize that each challenge served a purpose.

And so, as we enter the weekend, I rejoice—I am a blessed man! I hope you’ll be inspired to take a moment to practice gratitude over the coming days and come to see that you are too!

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Protecting Professionals

 

 

As you know, Mike Kelly Law Group’s mainstay practice areas are personal injury, workers’ compensation, disability claims, and insurance bad faith litigation. We do, however, concentrate on more nuanced areas of the law as well, and one of my favorite of these niche practices is representing clients before the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, commonly known as LLR, is a vast state agency that works to protect and promote public safety, health, and economic well-being by overseeing the regulation, licensing, enforcement, training, and education of individuals and businesses working in various fields. LLR has jurisdiction over the professional licensure of those working in a broad array of occupations — funeral directors, physical therapists, chiropractors, real estate agents, and cosmetologists are just a few of the professions that fall within the purview of LLR’s administration.

Though LLR is a necessary agency that, overall, greatly benefits the people of South Carolina, far too often professionals become the subject of investigations by the agency—and their licenses placed on the line—when disgruntled clients or patients raise unfounded complaints of wrongdoing. Mike Kelly Law Group defends individuals and small businesses whose licenses are subject to restriction or revocation in LLR proceedings, and we also handle wage issues that come under the agency’s jurisdiction.

If you or someone you know is concerned about the state of their professional licensure, Mike Kelly Law Group will review the case at no charge. Just give us a call at (803) 726-0123 to set up an appointment. We’re here for the people of South Carolina!

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Main Street’s Got It Going On!

 

 

On this Fourth of July Weekend, we have much to celebrate in the great state of South Carolina, particularly in the capital city of Columbia. I salute Mayor Steve Benjamin and our local leadership for concentrating their efforts on improving the quality of life for the city’s residents—and nowhere are these improvements more pronounced than in Columbia’s booming Main Street District! From the capitol building on Gervais all the way to Elmwood, and now into North Main, the streets are full of people, shops, entertainment venues, and restaurants, and the area only grows livelier with each passing day.

For Columbia residents looking for a little excitement, you need not look any further than Main Street. If it’s live music you’re after, The Joint and 1626 on Main have you covered. Or, for a perfect date night, grab some dinner at one of the many restaurants in the District—offering everything from a juicy steak to the best vegan cuisine in town—and catch a movie at The Nickelodeon theatre. And the Main Street experience is not limited to nightlife; you could easily spend a day at the recently renovated Columbia Museum of Art, visiting the District’s numerous shops, or riding around town on a Blue Bike. On Saturdays, you can start the morning off right with an hour of rooftop yoga at Hendrix and a trip to Soda City Market for local goods. What’s more, getting to and from the Main Street District is easier than ever with free transportation on the Soda Cap Connector!

With all that our town offers and all that’s yet to come, it’s safe to say that there has never been a better time to live, work and play in Columbia, South Carolina! I’ll see you on Main Street!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – A Growing Family!

 

 

Just last month, the Mike Kelly Law Group welcomed a new member to the firm family, and I am pleased to announce that we’ve done it again! Allow me to introduce Taylor Castineira: a recent graduate of Miller-Motte’s paralegal studies program and a rising star at MKLG!

Though born and raised in Union Beach, New Jersey, Taylor moved to the Palmetto State in 2016 and is now a proud South Carolinian. Like any true Carolina Girl, Taylor loves country music—particularly live performances—and you may have even bumped into her at the Carolina Country Music festival in downtown Myrtle Beach (just a block away from our office!) earlier this month.

Training under Linda Willis—our lead paralegal in Myrtle Beach wielding 20+ years of experience—with support from the outstanding team of paralegals in our Columbia office, Taylor has hit the ground running in her legal assistant position. She is proving to be a natural at her job and a natural fit among her firm family—all in all, our future with Taylor looks bright! Needless to say, we are thrilled to have Taylor on board and look forward to walking alongside her as her bountiful promise blooms into a successful legal career.

Welcome to the family, Taylor!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Summertime in South Carolina

 

 

Summer is here, and it’s a wonderful time to be in South Carolina! Though our state is known for its delightful weather year-round, the abundance of recreational opportunities that accompany the warm temperatures and long daylight hours of summer make this an especially exciting time of year. ‘Tis the season of backyard barbeques, poolside basking, and outdoor festivals, and it’s a prime time to enjoy South Carolina’s many natural wonders!

The diverse landscape of South Carolina lends to a broad variety of opportunities for outdoor leisure, from hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains to surfing in the Atlantic. Here in Columbia, we’re blessed to have Lake Murray, Congaree National Park, and a number of rivers, trails, and state parks right outside our doorsteps. Better yet, living in the heart of the state means we are in an optimal location to take advantage of all that South Carolina has to offer. This is especially important when temperatures in the capital city live up to their “Famously Hot” reputation—nothing beats the heat like a day trip to the breezy coast or a shaded trail in the Foothills!

I know first-hand that when we get caught up in the busyness of our day-to-day lives, we easily forget to appreciate what’s happening around us. This summer, my goal is to set aside time to slow down and enjoy the beautiful places and smiling faces in our wonderful state, and I encourage you to do the same! We’re here for the people of South Carolina!

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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