When your last name is well known, it might be tough to create a name for yourself. Not so with Paul Thurmond, who has established a solid reputation as a lawyer, state senator and devoted dad.
Thurmond’s father, Strom, was a U.S. senator for 48 years and known for his exceptional constituent service. Growing up with a father deeply committed to public office, Thurmond too found his calling in serving people as both an attorney and public official.
Before earning a law degree at the School of Law at the University of South Carolina, Thurmond went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. on a tennis scholarship. Being one of the top tennis players in the nation, plus juggling college studies and a social life, taught Thurmond an important lesson in time management as well as how to have grace under pressure.
“The discipline of practice and the time commitment of college tennis was valuable. I don’t want to waste any extra time in getting the result for a client. I’ve always believed in working efficiently, under a tremendous amount of pressure, and I have had success,” explains Thurmond. “In tennis, I had to prepare for various opponents from week to week. I had to study those opponents in order to anticipate their plays and ultimately to be successful against them. There is a parallel between preparing for a tennis match and preparing for trial. Preparation is the primary component to success in both roles.”
Thurmond’s tennis background fostered his competitive nature and desire to push himself – qualities that have transferred into his professional career. In 2006, Thurmond was elected to Charleston County Council, and in 2012 was elected as a state senator representing Senate District 41.
As assistant solicitor with the 9th Judicial Circuit in Charleston for three years, Thurmond handled more than 1,300 criminal indictments and was extremely successful in trial, having a 92 percent conviction rate.
In 2005, Thurmond joined with law school friends Jesse Kirchner and Michael Timbes to form their own practice, which has since grown to 10 lawyers and 15 support staff. It is unique in that it handles multiple areas of practice, including both civil and criminal defense cases, business litigation, personal injury and construction law.
“We have managed to find a number of focus areas that we offer clients, and hopefully they will have a comfort level where they come to us in one area and then might need us in another,” Thurmond says.
Kirchner focuses on construction law while Timbes handles much of the business litigation work. Thanks to his work as a solicitor, Thurmond is well versed in the criminal defense process.
As a senator, Thurmond was instrumental in getting the Confederate flag removed from Statehouse grounds. He left the senate after serving from 2012-2016 to spend more time with his family and watch his five children grow up.
“I didn’t want to look back and regret I didn’t get to be involved and engage with my children as they grew,” he says. “Law takes up a lot of my time. If you throw in political responsibilities, you’re really missing a lot.”
Thurmond’s commitment to excellence for his clients has led to recognition from both fellow attorneys and the general public. In the spring, he was honored by the School of Law at the University of South Carolina with the 2016 Silver Compleat Lawyer Award. The award recognizes alumni for outstanding civic and professional accomplishments. Thurmond was one of three lawyers honored in the category of practicing for 15 years or less.
“Paul Thurmond stands out as an effective lawyer and a dedicated public servant. A committee of judges and bar leaders selected him to receive our highest alumni honor, the Compleat Lawyer Medallion, not only because of his success, but equally because of his outstanding reputation for character and professionalism,” says Robert M. Wilcox, Dean at University of South Carolina School of Law.
Also this year the readers of “The Post and Courier” voted Thurmond as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Charleston.
“I have really tried in all practice areas to live by the golden rule – treat people how I would like to be treated. You just don’t take the business side for granted,” Thurmond says. “I answer the phones on nights and weekends. I want my clients to be happy with the service I am providing.”
“Yes, I have a degree and a license, but don’t forget that you are involved in the service of law for the people who need you,” he adds. “Most of the people calling were either harmed in an accident, wronged in a construction incident or their liberties are at stake. We try to give them quality service. I try to do what I think is important for those in need and work as hard as I can for them.”
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