Business of the Week
Persistence. Teamwork. Hard work. Commitment. Optimism. Self-confidence. Many of the world’s most successful people credit the lessons learned through competing in sports for their success in life. One such person is Katherine R. Myers, who is making waves in the legal profession. She has opened the Katherine R. Myers Law Firm, which specializes in criminal defense.
Myers attended Richland One Schools, and always excelled academically. In addition to being a scholar, Myers was quite the athlete.
“I ran track – 400-meter, 800-meter, four by one, four by four,” Myers recalled. “I did some cross country, too. I did basketball and AAU basketball. I also did Double Dutch from third grade up until seventh grade. I loved Double Dutch. My team made it to third place in the world.”
Myers graduated valedictorian of her class at C.A. Johnson Preparatory Academy. She decided to attend Furman University after she won the prestigious Herman Lay Scholarship.
“That was a game changer,” Myers said. “I got a full ride to school. I wanted to get a good education and get away from home, so that was just a no brainer.”
Myers earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science at Furman in 2010. It was the first step in fulfilling her desire to become an attorney.
“I decided to be a lawyer,” Myers said. “I'm big into history, and a large part of that history dealt with people of color and women being denied their equal citizenship rights in this country. I was a founding member of the NAACP chapter at my college and served as the state youth and college division president. For me, it looks like a lot of the huge changes that have happened for the betterment of America have happened through legislation and through the courthouses and laws that are passed. That's where I can fit in -- I can do research, I can write, I can argue, I can get evidence. It's in this way that I think my gifts and talents can help make the world a better place.”
Myers applied to 18 law schools, and was accepted to 15. She decided to attend the University of South Carolina Law School.
“I got accepted to USC, and they offered me a half scholarship,” Myers recalled. “So it was an easy choice. It was super affordable, and I could be back in my hometown.”
Myers excelled in law school. She ran for president of the Student Bar Association, was a law school ambassador, president of the Black Law Students Association, won first place in moot court competitions, made it to the semi-finals of a mock trial competition, and conducted free legal clinics for the community.
“I had a lot going on,” Myers said. “It was a full schedule.”
Myers finished law school in 2013. She studied for the bar exam, and passed it on her first attempt in the summer of 2014.
Myers was chosen to serve as a clerk at the South Carolina Supreme Court.
“It was a great opportunity for me to come in as a fresh lawyer and kind of see things from the top,” Myers said. “So I did that for a year, then went on to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.”
Myers worked in the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) division.
“I was like an in-house council,” Myers said. “Another part of my job was a whistleblower investigator for the state of South Carolina. So when they were retaliated against or demoted because they complained about a health and safety issue, I would come in and investigate, negotiate with the employers and see if we can reach a settlement.”
Myers said that she loved the fact that she didn’t have to sit behind a desk every day. The job enabled her to travel around the state and meet people. But she longed to get some courtroom experience.
“I envisioned myself being in a courtroom,” Myers recalled. “With that kind of work, it didn't lead to the courtroom very much. So I ended up going down to Orangeburg to work for my cousin, who had his own law firm. I was doing a lot of family law, some real estate, some tax law, and personal injury.”
After working for her cousin for two months, he decided to take the law firm in a different direction. So Myers got a job working the in Orangeburg County solicitors office.
“To me, that was like heaven, because we had court almost like clockwork,” Myers recalled. “I was the domestic violence prosecutor. So that gave me an opportunity, for the first time in my career, to feel like an expert in something. I knew that kind of law like the back of my hand, and I got the opportunity to try my first case, which is a huge milestone for me.”
Myers loved working in the solicitor’s office, but felt that it was limiting her choices.
“I liked domestic violence cases, but I wanted to see what else I liked,” she said. “They have a nice system down there, but their system just didn't allow for moving around. My role was domestic violence. Once I felt like I had fulfilled that role, I said it's time to move on.”
Myers decided to open her own legal firm. On June 10, 2019, she opened the Katherine Myers Law Firm.
“I do criminal defense as my main practice area,” Myers said. “I also practice employment law, family law, education law, contracts, etc. Whatever walks in the door, if I'm competent to handle it, I will. If I need to pull in another lawyer, I have no problem doing that. And if that is not in my focus area, I know so many lawyers in the state of South Carolina that I would happily give a referral to.”
Myers is proud of the fact that in her very first case, she got her client’s case dismissed. Working as a prosecutor, she said, gives her a competitive advantage now that she works as defense attorney.
“As a prosecutor, when I assessed the strength of my case, I was always thinking about what the defense would say to this? Or what objection would they make? So now, when I look at the defense side of the case, I'm analyzing the evidence that the state has presented me and saying, okay, I can challenge these elements, or there is no evidence for certain elements. I have an understanding of how a solicitor assesses a case, and then I can put my defense attorney hat on. I think it makes me a good negotiator and enables me to get good results for my clients,” she said.
Myers represents clients all over South Carolina.
“So far I've been to Abbeville, Spartanburg, Denmark, Bamberg, Orangeburg -- wherever clients need me,” she said.
“I see my firm as one that provides top notch legal representation to individuals accused of crimes,” Myers said. “But it's like an in between place. You can go to the public defender's office if you just don't have the funds, or you can go to these legendary sharks and pay thousands of dollars. I want to be at that place where I'm providing top notch service, but not necessarily top notch prices. And I just feel blessed to do that.”
Myers says that her long-term goal is to have offices across the Southeast.
“My vision is to get to a place where we can cover the state of South Carolina, and then get to a point where we can cover the Southeast region,’ she said. “I would like to have a team of lawyers who are passionate about justice, who are legal eagles, if you will, very good at research and writing like myself, and who have a passion for not just making money, but for making a difference.”
Myers is especially focused on making a difference to clients who have been accused of a crime.
“The general public has to remember that when I represent someone that's committed a crime, I'm not endorsing what they did,” Myers said. “I'm standing in to say, your honor this person deserves the due process that is guaranteed by the state and federal constitution.”
Myers says that competing in the courtroom is similar to competing in athletics.
“I really do appreciate sports, I appreciate competitiveness, I appreciate teamwork and sacrifice. I like competing, but I also like things being fair and square. I think that's why I love the law so much, because it has the rules, the rules of procedure, the rules for the law,” she said.
“My business is an extension of me,” she continued. “And for me, God is a priority for my life, so God is also a priority in my business. I've gotten phone calls from people who said they prayed about who they should call, and they ended up calling me. I had someone ask me can we pray over my case, and I have no problem doing that. I think it's unique to acknowledge God in my business.”
Myers says that she is dedicated to giving her clients the best legal representation in the region.
“There are so many law firms in Columbia and in the state of South Carolina,” Myers says, “but what makes me unique is that I'm local. I grew up in this community. I went to school in this community. I work in this community. I bought a house in this community. I went to law school here. So I consider myself a product of the community. I don't see individuals as dollar signs, I see individuals as potential clients who I can help.”
The Katherine R. Myers Law Firm is located at 1803 Hampton Street in Columbia, SC 29201. It is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday appointments are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The firm can be reached by calling (803) 250-1176 or visiting www.katrmyerslawfirm.com.