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History of Service

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In 1989, The Newcomen Society of the United States honored McNair Law Firm as a leader in its field, and celebrated, as its mission states, “the ultimate achievements of those pioneers whose efforts laid the foundations of the particular enterprise.”

In his opening remarks W. W. “Hootie” Johnson, then the Chairman of the Board of NCNB South Carolina, noted that Robert E. McNair had been eminently successful in two fields of service; first as a public servant then as a lawyer. 

Dr. Harry M. Lightsey, Jr., in his book McNair Law Firm, A Brief History, 1971-2005, stated that:  “In earlier years, the State’s economy was largely rural and those businesses that had legal matters of any complexity most often turned to New York, Washington, D.C. or Atlanta for corporate legal services…There was almost no local representation of business or industry flowing directly to South Carolina law firms.”

Throughout his service as Governor of South Carolina, our Firm’s founder worked tirelessly to attract desirable business and industry into our State. He was struck by how often the leaders of those companies engaged lawyers and law firms from major cities across the United States to handle their sophisticated legal matters.

Governor McNair was determined that this void in legal representation should not continue. His vision for the law firm was to bring together the necessary legal talent and capability to serve South Carolina’s changing economic direction.

Thus, when he left government service in 1971, the Governor founded a law firm based on one big idea: he could create a firm which would be best in the world at providing specialized business legal services in the Carolinas, especially legal services which were viewed by business leaders as essential at the intersection of business and government.

Because he understood the workings of government from the inside out and because he continuously connected business and governmental leaders to seize upon opportunities for a greater good, he was successful and he provided the firm platform from which we operate today.

From unrest to reconciliation
Also in 1971, the state of South Carolina, not unlike the entire nation, was coming out of a most difficult time of change and civil unrest. The legal profession was not isolated from those ordeals.

During this time, the South Carolina Bar had been divided into two separate groups – a “public or official” Bar and a separate “social and educational” Bar – for fear that the “official” organization which granted licensure to attorneys in the state would face integration.

In 1973, Governor McNair and others in this very young law firm, stepped up and helped bring about the much needed reform of the profession and worked to establish a single South Carolina State Bar Association. 

Governor McNair and his young partners believed that tomorrow can be better than today and that each of us has a personal, moral responsibility to help make it so. That belief infuses everything we do at McNair.

This was not an unusual or unexpected stand for Governor McNair and his law partners to take, and was then and is now one of the core values of our Firm. Excellence in legal representation, community service, and diversity of culture are all encompassed in the vision he held and the leadership he gave which created, as The Newcomen Society noted, “one of the South’s most respected law firms.”

We work to build enduring client relationships. We identify with our clients’ businesses and the communities that are important to them--because of our physical presence across a broad footprint, by the broad nature of our expertise and through the time we spend understanding and developing opportunities from shifts in the regional economy.

And we continue to understand government from the inside, as well as business-government relationships and their unique intricacies. Today, we benefit from the deep relationships we have so carefully built—across government, regional and national business and as active members of our cities, counties and state.  It is not just something we talk about – it is how we get things done.

A little about our leadership and vision
From 1980 - 2003, Wayne Corley was the Managing Shareholder of our Firm. In 2004, M. William Youngblood, having assumed the position of Managing Shareholder/CEO of our Firm, reiterated our vision.  McNair Law Firm... 

…continues to develop deep, enduring relationships with our Clients. We work tirelessly to understand our Clients’ business at a deeper level…; Many of our lawyers and staff are viewed as leaders in the communities we serve…; and, we emphasize inclusiveness and recognize the tangible benefits that the diverse backgrounds, experience and qualities of our people provide…

A tribute to our partner and friend
Governor Robert E. McNair, founder of our Firm, died on Saturday, November 17, 2007. Governor McNair took personal interest and pride in every individual who was part of his extended law firm family, as well as every client served by McNair Law Firm. His values infuse everything we do as a Firm. He believed that we all have a personal, moral responsibility to give back to the communities from which we derive so much. That belief, that commitment, infuses everything we do. We mourn his passing, we pray for his family and we rejoice in a life so well lived.

Click here to read Governor McNair's eulogy.