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Posts published in March 2019

Meagan Gentry wins Solo and Small Firm Section Award

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There are few people who see the need to make a difference and rise to the challenge. Meagan Gentry is one of those people.

Over the summer, Gentry partnered with Annie Andrews at the Charleston County Public Defender’s office to collect books for children in the juvenile detention center in Charleston. At the end of the project, the two collected 3,500 books of all genres and in English and Spanish and distributed in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston.

The passion that drives Gentry is the very reason she won the 2018 Solo and Small Firm Section Award. Solo and small firms are an important pillar in the legal community because of their contributions to the profession and volunteer efforts and community engagement.

“As chair of the Solo and Small Firm Council, we are honored to recognize Meagan Gentry for her contributions to her local community,” said Ayesha Washington. “Her recent involvement with the Juvenile Detention Center is proof that when Meagan sees a need in her community, she responds with action.”

Running a solo firm means it’s one person doing several tasks. The work doesn’t disappear when the attorney is on vacation or leading community service efforts. There’s not always an office manager or accountant on site that can help. However, Gentry finds herself able to balance it all. 

“I love the flexibility that having a solo practice brings,” Gentry said. “However, that doesn’t mean I’m not up late responding to emails. It’s a benefit and a burden because you don’t have to be at work at a certain time, but you’re never actually off of work either. It allows me to focus on community events that I’m passionate about.”

Gentry runs her solo firm, Gentry Law Firm, in Charleston where she practices family law, estate planning, criminal defense, personal injury and is a guardian ad litem. She spends a lot of her time volunteering for several community projects, including cooking and serving chili dinners to families with children in the MUSC hospital, a sponsor and community advocate for Lowcountry Orphan Relief and Reading Partners of South Carolina.

“When I first found out I had been selected, I looked at the previous winners and did not feel that I measured up to even half of their accomplishments and community work,” Gentry said. “But I am thankful nevertheless.”

Gentry graduated from law school in Arkansas in 2010 and began her career as a prosecutor in Arkansas. She found her way to South Carolina years later as a public defender before she opened her own private practice.

The Solo and Small Firm Section Award was created to increase awareness about the value solo and small law firms contribute to the state and legal community. Past recipients are Jenkinson, Jarrett & Kellahan, P.A.; Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson and Delgado, LLC; and Ken Lester.

Member Spotlight: Tom Andrews, Council Representative, South Carolina Bar Solo and Small Firm Section

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Solo and Small Firm Section member Thomas (Tom) Andrews has a solo firm in Columbia practicing primarily in the area of veteran benefits law.  He graduated from USC in 1999 and from the law school at USC in 2002.  He has been a member of the Solo and Small Firm Council since 2017.

Here’s Tom’s Story:

After I worked as a law clerk to then Circuit Court Judge Michael Baxley and as a staff attorney at the South Carolina Court of Appeals, I practiced insurance defense at a mid-sized and then small firm for nearly ten years.  After my first week at the first firm, I knew billing hours and reporting to an insurance adjuster were not going to be my lifelong passion, but it took me a while to find that passion.  Finally, I stumbled into a CLE on veterans benefits and ultimately a rewarding solo practice assisting veterans in obtaining there benefits from the VA. 

I grew my practice by initially working of counsel at a small insurance defense firm giving most of my time to defense matters while gradually growing my VA practice.  In 2017, I finally left that firm and struck out on my own.  The transition from a stable paycheck and robust office support was scary, but has worked out better than expected.  My work-life balance is amazing, which makes my wife and children especially happy.  My practice involves approximately 80% VA benefits work and 20% general litigation, mostly personal injury.   My clients are truly grateful for my efforts and have gifted me with everything from homemade barbeque sauce to a hand-carved walking stick.

Outside of the office, I stay busy helping my wife chase after our three young children, serving as a member of my church's vestry, and I am a senior judge with the South Carolina Barbeque Association.