Celebrating Women’s History Month

Tiffany Butler Holt shares about her mentor Judge Abigail Rogers

Abigail Rogers

Columbia attorney Abigail R. Rogers influenced my legal career early on.  I met Judge Rogers in Starbucks during my 1L year at USC Law.  She saw me studying and walked up to my table to introduce herself. She told me that she was an attorney and former judge and that she was proud of me for going to law school.  She gave me her phone number and told me to call her anytime I wanted to talk.  I remember being speechless at the time, but I eventually worked up the nerve to call her.  She was my very first mentor and offered her wisdom and guidance to me throughout my law school career and as I began practicing law.  She encouraged me to always hold my head up high, remain confident in my abilities, and strive for excellence!

Mandy Pittman shares about her friend & mentor Melissa Mosier

Melissa Mosier

For the past 10 years, Melissa Mosier has been both a dear friend and a mentor.  Not only is she one of the smartest and most dedicated people I know, but she is also a rock star mom.  Melissa truly embodies the idiom – a rising tide lifts all boats.  She may have a packed calendar, but she will always make time to help and talk through any situation.  Melissa wants to see other women succeed and thrive.  Whether it be inside or outside of work, Melissa truly has a heart for helping others, as she has a statewide personal injury practice at the Joye Law Firm.

 

Lamar Fyall shares about his mentor Judge DeAndrea Gist Benjamin

DeAndrea Benjamin

As a prosecutor in the 5th Circuit, I have had the good fortune of appearing before Judge DeAndrea Benjamin more times than I can count. She has presided over nearly half of my general sessions trials, and, as a result, I have essentially grown up in her courtroom. Throughout my time here, she has presided over numerous complex criminal cases, and recently, she brilliantly dealt with the challenges of the pandemic on our busy circuit in her past term as Chief Administrative Judge. Despite, all of that, she always makes time to give advice to young lawyers like myself. She is a model of the legal community both in and out of court, and every time I enter her courtroom, I leave a better attorney.

 

Cheslyne Shea Brighthop shares about her mentor & friend RCBA President Ashley Story

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Many people in our profession probably know Ashley as a take-charge attorney that always gets the job done, but, what I love and admire about her the most is her supportive spirit. She’s busy (and I mean super busy), but she will always find little ways to let you know she’s there and rooting for you. She manages to make her huge leadership roles seem like a breeze. She’s owner of a very successful law firm and is president of our very own Richland County Bar, yet always makes the time to check in and offer help. I don’t know how she handles it all with so much grace and spunk, but she does...and does it well. I learn so much from Ashley in so many ways and although she knows she is a boss, I won’t turn down the opportunity to remind her of what she already knows. Ashley, you’re a wonderful friend and mentor. You’re a light and I cherish the impact you have made upon me and so many others. Keep rising to the top!

 

Mike Polk shares about his mentors Judge Catherine Kennedy & Judge Amy McCulloch

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Amy McCulloch

Both Judge Catherine Kennedy and Judge Amy McCulloch have had a positive and significant impact on my career. Cathy Kennedy was the first judge I remember being in front of as an attorney. When she returned to private practice, she headed the Probate Code Revision Committee, and I volunteered to participate. While on the committee, I met and observed Judge McCulloch in a non judicial setting the first time. To me, they both exemplify what a leader is, and both showed that members of the Richland County Bar lead the way to change for the better in South Carolina.

C. David Beale, Jr. shares about his colleague & friend Mandy Pittman

Mandy Pittma

I am proud to call Mandy Pittman a friend who somewhere along the way also became a mentor.  Some may find it strange to call someone younger than you a mentor, but those types of definitional boundaries do not apply when it comes to Mandy.  As a South Carolina boy who was returning after some years practicing law in Georgia, nobody was more accommodating in getting me plugged into the bar while showing me the ropes of what it means to be a personal injury attorney.  She is a fierce advocate for her clients.  That fierce advocacy for her clients is rivaled only by her fierceness in her relationships with her friends and family.  The RCBA has a star for years to come in Mandy Pittman.

Cheslyne Shea Brighthop shares about her friend & colleague Leslie Simpson

Leslie Simpson

I met Leslie in law school and what immediately stood out about her from the beginning was her ability to embrace her individuality with seemingly complete ease. Her energy is infectious and once you hear her speak, you know her power. She’s worked as a staff attorney for the SC Senate, in civil defense with McAngus, Goudelock & Courie, and currently works for the SC Association of Counties. I’ve also served and served with Leslie on diversity committees of the RCBA, YLD, and SC Bar. Leslie’s passion and confidence is felt instantly when talking to her. I’m privileged to call her a friend and a sister in the law. Her life and voice is a blessing and I can’t wait to see what she walks in next.

Xavier Starkes shares about Judge Alison Renee Lee

Alison Renee Lee

Judge Alison Lee has had a significant influence on my legal career.   Judge Lee has a keen knowledge of the law and is always fair and courteous to all parties.  When appearing before Judge Lee, one has to be well prepared and ready for trial.  I will likely never be a judge, but if I did, Judge Lee would be my role model.

Olivia Jones shares about her mentor Pam Robinson

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So many women have positively influenced me and helped me along the way in my career.  The person who has had a noticeable impact for me is Pam Robinson.   She taught me that the law can be rewarding and inspiring.  Although I worked in more traditional legal settings during my summer clerkships, she showed me there were multitudes of other non-traditional legal roles.  She gently nudges students who are passionate about public interest law and public service to find their niche and serve a rewarding and needed role in society.  She is a treasure to all UofSC law students and the entire South Carolina (and national) legal community.

La ' Jessica Stringfellow shares about her colleague Beth Richardson

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Beth Richardson is not only a talented litigator, but she’s also an amazing mentor. As I transitioned into civil litigation, Beth quickly took me under her wing and has nurtured my growth as a litigator. Her belief in my skills as a litigator has pushed me to continue to grow and become a better advocate. Beth exemplifies professionalism and always strives to provide quality work product for her clients. She is a true advocate for the clients she represents, as well as, for the community organizations she participates in. She is a great example of how to be a successful litigator, while still being a devoted and involved parent.

Joseph Bias shares about his colleague April Sampson

April Sampson

I don’t know if April Sampson kicked my butt in court the first time we met or shortly thereafter, but I find myself in honored company as one of the many attorneys who have met similar fates. April teaches a master class in courtroom presentation daily at her job as a Richland County Solicitor, and I have been privileged to consider her a friend and mentor since I recovered from the lessons she gave me in court. She devotes her time to education as a Mock Trial coach, excels as a mother and wife, and perhaps most importantly helps the community through her work with her charity In the Middle a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to women battling breast cancer. April is a passionate advocate for women and justice in this state, and the Richland County Bar is better because of her membership.

Dayne Phillips shares about colleagues Marti Bluestein & Susan Hackett

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Two female members of the RCBA that have significantly impacted my legal career are Marti Bluestein and Susan Hackett.  Both Marti and Susan have always made time to help me (even when it was not convenient for them and despite my ridiculous question or issue). More importantly, they epitomize professionalism in the legal field and are passionate advocates who constantly volunteer their time for positive change in our community. Their guidance has been crucial to my success, and I am forever grateful for their friendship.

Marti Bluestein

Tina Cundari shares about her mentor Chief Justice (Ret.) Jean Hoefer Toal

Toal

One of the most influential people in my career and in my life has been Jean Hoefer Toal, former Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.  Being her law clerk has been one of the greatest privileges of my career.  Chief Justice Toal gave me back the confidence that was shaken in law school, and made me believe I could do anything.  She had a practical approach to the law, which still resonates with me today.  She would often say, “We’re not writing the Magna Carta,” which was her way of telling me I needed to stop obsessing about every word and get the job done.  I also learned from watching her leadership style.  She was quick to praise others and did not shy away from difficult conversations, which she always did in private.  She was a master delegator.  She trusted the people she surrounded herself with and did not need to control every aspect of a project.  She led (and judged) with compassion and with purpose.  She also made time for the things that mattered most—her family, her friends, her church, exercise, cooking, golf, gardening, sports.  The list goes on.  She has always been there for me, to listen and to provide encouragement and support when needed.  Any success I have realized in the legal profession would not have been possible without her.

David Anderson shares about colleague Carmen V. Ganjehsani

Ganjehsani, Carmen

This month, Women’s History Month, we recognize not only the notable women in history that have blazed a trail for us all but, we reflect and recognize the women that have touched each of  us personally in our present legal careers.  Carmen V. Ganjehsani, a member of the Richland County Bar and a shareholder with Richardson Plowden & Robinson, PA.  has been and continues to be a positive influence in my legal career.   I contribute much of my success in appeals and various motions to the scholarly work provided by Carmen.  She focuses her practice on appellate law and has been an extraordinary colleague in examining complex cases and providing excellent reasoned arguments.  Too often we fail to take the opportunity to thank our legal assistants (Carla Lindler) and paralegals (Carol Howes) whose work and contributions make it possible to provide excellent legal services.  There are far too many disparities and challenges that face women today, join me in letting them know how they have positively affected us, this month and every month.

John Hearn shares about former colleague Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer_Rubin

I have been at Rogers Townsend for nearly 20 years now. Before I arrived, Jennifer Rubin, a then-associate at the firm, reached out to me and we had lunch in the Vista. Mind you, I did not know Jen at all, but from that very first lunch she gave me a sense of the firm and its culture—both good and bad, at least as she saw it at the time. Jen left us a few years ago for Chicago Title, where she is now State Manager. I remain grateful for her gesture to this day, and over the years I have tried to follow her example when we welcome new lawyers to the firm.

Kayla Capps shares about friend & colleague Cheslyne Shea Brighthop

I met Cheslyne over the summer of 2016, while I was studying to take the bar exam. Actually, we met at a kickboxing class at TNT Martial Arts and Fitness Center! She was a phenomenal workout partner and provided much insight on how I could structure my day and study patterns. Her tricks and tips and encouragement worked, and I went on to pass the bar. Throughout my career in child welfare, Cheslyne remained someone I could reach out to and ask questions about unique circumstances surrounding juveniles. (At this time, she worked for Richland County’s Public Defender’s Office.) Cheslyne co-chairs the RCBA's Diversity Committee, and I have the privilege to work on her committee. Her voice is strong and unwavering, and I listen when she speaks. She is a fierce woman (both inside and outside of the courtroom), and we should all celebrate her!

Cheslyne Brighthop

Derrick Williams shares about the Honorable J. Michelle Childs

The Honorable J. Michelle Childs, when she was Commissioner Childs (serving on the SC Workers’ Compensation Commission) has made an indelible impact on my professional career. As a young attorney, I will never forget my first hearing before her. At the conclusion of the hearing, I went up to the bench to introduce myself, and she proceeded to give me some of the best advice of my entire career.
She told me to  work hard at my craft, to get involved with bar activities, and to network as much as possible.  She finally told me that “you could be in the same position I am one day.” Little did I know that I would take her very seat on the Workers’ Compensation Commission, after she went on to the Circuit Court.  I cannot underestimate the value of her prophetic statement on my career.

 

Judge J. Michelle Childs