(COLUMBIA, SC) - Recognizing the opportunity to expand to one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Southeast – Columbia, South Carolina, the law firm of Adams and Reese LLP has announced a merger with Ellis Lawhorne, effective June 1, 2013. With the addition of 23 attorneys in Columbia, Adams and Reese will have over 340 attorneys and advisors resident in 16 offices in seven states throughout the Southern United States and Washington, D.C.

The announcement was made jointly by Adams and Reese Managing Partner, Charles P. Adams, Jr. and Ellis Lawhorne Managing Shareholder, William P. McElveen, Jr.  McElveen will serve as a Transactions Practice Group Leader in the merged firm. Robert P. Bethea, Jr. will serve as the Partner in Charge of the Adams and Reese Columbia office.

“Our firm’s strategic plan directs selective growth in targeted markets, and from our first meeting with the shareholders of Ellis Lawhorne last November, we knew our firms were a perfect fit,” said Adams. “From the outset, we realized that our firms shared similar values, clients, and a complementary practice mix. We were extremely impressed with Ellis Lawhorne, the caliber of their attorneys, their practice, and their clients from the first time we were introduced.” 

Ellis Lawhorne has been an important member of the Columbia business community sharing in the city’s growth and economic development since the firm’s founding in 1980. Columbia’s business climate ranks 14th out of the Top 40 strongest United States metro economies, according to Bloomberg Businessweek and is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the southeast.

“The merger is beneficial for both firms with Adams and Reese expanding its regional footprint and Ellis Lawhorne extending its reach for its clients into Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, DC,” said Gif Thornton, Chairman of the Adams and Reese Executive Committee. “Adams and Reese is committed to and excited about our future growth potential in the South Carolina market.”

“As we looked to grow our business and better meet our clients’ needs, joining a large regional firm was the most logical and efficient course for us to take,” McElveen said. “We were impressed by the firm’s well-known reputation as a strong, solid, and well-managed regional firm with a well-defined vision and long term strategic plan, which was very attractive to us.”

Bethea added, “As the legal industry changes and the business environment for clients becomes more competitive and complex, we want to continue exceeding our clients' expectations.  We realized that a merger with a larger firm would enable us to provide more resources to meet the higher levels of specialization that our clients are increasingly requiring.  Smaller firms have limitations, simply by virtue of their size or footprint. They (smaller firms) cannot often provide the same highly specialized experience in as wide a range of practice areas, and at the same level, as larger firms with deeper talent pools and experience in more specialized areas of the law.”

Partners joining Adams and Reese include:  John F. Beach, Robert P. Bethea, Jr., Rita Bragg Caughman, F. Earl Ellis, William O. Higgins, Matthew B. Hill, Ernest G. “Ernie” Lawhorne, Jonathan P. Lee, William P. McElveen, Jr., W. Cliff Moore III, Jack Pringle, Louis T. Runge, Jr., Kirby D. Shealy III, Lana H. Sims, Jr., David C. Sojourner, Jr., and Karen Hudson Thomas. Associates include: Jacob S. Barker, Shaun C. Blake, Jennifer Ross MacLeod, Lana H. Sims IV, William M. Umbach, Drew B. Walker, and Lyndey Ritz Zwing.

The Columbia office opening marks Adams and Reese’s second merger in 2013. In March, the law firm expanded its Florida footprint with the addition of a Jacksonville office as its fifth Florida location merging with Volpe, Bajalia, Wickes, Rogerson & Wachs (VBWR). The firm’s other Florida offices include Tampa, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

In addition to its new Columbia, South Carolina office, the firm has offices in Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama; Memphis and Nashville (Downtown and Music Row), Tennessee; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota, Florida; Houston, Texas; and Washington, D.C.

About the Firms:

Adams and Reese is a multidisciplinary law firm with more than 340* attorneys and advisors strategically located in 16 offices in 15 markets* throughout the southern United States and Washington, D.C.  American Lawyer includes Adams and Reese on its distinguished list of the nation's top law firms - "The Am Law 200". The National Law Journal also includes the firm on the "NLJ 250" list of the nation's largest law firms. www.adamsandreese.com

Founded in 1980, Ellis Lawhorne provides legal services to regional clients and serves as local counsel to numerous national companies. At the heart of our practice is an understanding of the complex issues faced by those who navigate this challenging — and dynamic — businesses environment. The firm is organized  around five practice areas: Business and Finance, Commercial Property, Litigation, Taxation, and Trusts and Estates.