I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, and I love it more now than I did when I started. We have had a hand in making some good law in South Carolina (and occasionally elsewhere) and in making “the system” (there are many) work like they should, although progress is slow. We want to make lots more good law, especially in areas regulating the practice of law, protecting licensed professionals and making government work for the people and not against them. The lawyer regulatory system works very well; the other systems, not so much.
I grew up in Augusta GA, and was moved to South Carolina in the late 1960s to finish my senior year of high school by ill-guided parents who saw no harm in moving a 15-year old girl away from the only friends she had ever known (and her boyfriend). I graduated from Irmo High School when St. Andrews Road had only two lanes, and made Columbia my home.
No one in my family or that I knew had ever been in law. After getting a journalism degree from the real USC, I wanted to continue to learn, and law school seemed a worthy challenge. My first legal job was during law school at a distinguished Columbia law firm that didn’t know what to do with me; I was their first female law clerk. I injected myself into pretty much everything. Turns out I’m a little pushy like that.
Wonderful experiences came to me in the form of clerkships with the Honorable Ralph King Anderson Jr., who was then on the circuit court bench, and later for the late Chief Justice J. B. “Bubba” Ness (who was warned by Judge Anderson to watch out or I would take over his office.) After leaving the Supreme Court in 1987, I practiced for ten (10) years with a law firm before realizing I was a round peg in a square hole. I looked for a place where I fit, but there was none, so I started my own firm by default, in 1997. We’ve worked with lots of amazing people.
I finally married Butch Allen, that wonderful man who was my boyfriend when my parents dragged me away from Augusta, and he is the love of my life. He’s persistent, thank goodness. We have no children, but we claim Mara Ballard, Marcy Ballard, my niece Meredith, and the law firm staff as family. We have two dachshunds, Hermione and Tucker, who came to us from Dachshund Rescue of North America (DRNA.org), a fabulous organization that helps dachshunds find forever homes when their first families cannot keep them. I’m a rescue mom.
The Ballard-Allen family divides its time between Columbia and Flagler Beach, Florida, where I work remotely when I’m not at my real office.
Favorite movie: The Big Lebowski
Favorite book (fiction): Mila 18, by Leon Uris, Runner-up: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
Favorite book (nonfiction): Imagine, by John Lennon (it’s a children’s book, check it out)
Favorite musician: Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Eagles, Prince (much more than a musician – an absolute genius)
Favorite quotation: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Dante Alighieri. Runner-up: “Service to others is the rent we pay for our space on this earth.” Muhammad Ali
Personal heroes: Muhammad Ali, Mara Ballard, Santa Claus
Choice to play me in the movie: Bette Midler
I’ve been with Ballard Watson since 2008. In addition to my practice and involvement in preparing continuing legal education programs, I participate as a member of the South Carolina Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee. My wife, who is a nurse at a local hospital, and I have been together since high school and happily married since 2004. Our beagle and cat are doing well, despite receiving much less attention than they did before our two beautiful daughters joined Team Watson.