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« Back to Alumni Spotlight Reid T. Sherard

Reid T. Sherard

Lawyer, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Class of 2000
2014 Distinguished Honors Alumnus

by Mae L. Bradford, South Carolina Honors College, maeb@email.sc.edu

There’s a happy, healthy child in Greenville today because of Honors College alumnus Reid Sherard. A partner with Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough and the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Honors Alumni Award, Sherard doesn’t shy away from difficult cases that don’t pay. He knows there are more than financial rewards to practicing law.

“All people, regardless of station in life, should have equal access to justice,” says Sherard, recipient of the 2014 SCHC Distinguished Alumni Award. “Working pro bono allows me to do my part to help those who otherwise could not afford to pay a lawyer.”

One of Sherard’s most rewarding cases involved a family with a baby daughter. The South Carolina Department of Social Services removed the baby from her parents when she was less than a month old because the home was deemed unsuitable. Then, after her parents found a new residence that all sides agreed was adequate, DSS still refused to return the child and tried to terminate her parents’ parental rights. The parents did everything they could to get their daughter back—including taking parenting classes—and finally secured a trial.

Sherard, (’00 political science, ’04 USC Law), first represented the mother pro bono; then, after an unsuccessful trial, represented both parents in a second trial. Eventually, after four years and great persistence, Sherard won the case, and the child was returned to her mother and father. Confidentiality issues prevent Sherard from sharing more details about the case, but he notes he’s satisfied with the outcome.

About five to 10 percent of Sherard’s work is pro bono, depending on the year. While he concentrates his time in family law and litigation, he also represents indigents appealing criminal convictions. “The criminal justice system only works if both the state and the accused receive a fair trial,” he notes.

A Greenville native, Sherard finds divorce-related litigation as rewarding as his pro bono work. He believes his efforts in every single case help solve tangible problems of exceeding importance to the client, including those related to children and financial matters. It is important to Sherard to “help individuals navigate what is typically the most difficult period of their adult lives, one which affects many different facets of their existence.”

The daily practice of law bears very little resemblance to depictions in film and on television, Sherard says. “When I began, I had only the faintest sense of the business side of practicing law. I thought if I knew the law and worked hard the rest would take care of itself. While knowledge and work ethic are definitely important, I now know that is just the beginning.”

Sherard was a 2000 Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar, a recipient of the 2000 Steven N. Swanger Award, and a recipient of the USC School of Law Alumni Council’s 2014 Compleat Lawyer Award. His current community service includes positions on the YMCA Camp Greenville board of advisors, A Child’s Haven board of directors, and the South Carolina Historical Society board of managers.

Ask him about his greatest achievement, and his response is fast. “Check back with me in a couple of decades. My wife Carrie and I are expecting our first child in April, and I hope I can say that we reared a productive member of society.”

Reading now:

I recently finished “Hellhound on His Trail” by Hampton Sides, about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the hunt for James Earl Ray.

Favorite movie:

If I am flipping channels and either “A Few Good Men” or “The Shawshank Redemption” is on, I feel compelled to watch even though I have seen both many times.

Most recent concert:

Jason Isbell at the Ryman. Fantastic.

Good at:

Cooking barbeque.

Bad at:

Consistently exercising has been a challenge for me.

For fun:

Travel and taking photographs, and Gamecock athletics of course.

How the SCHC prepared you for the future:

The combination of a top-flight education with in-depth exposure to well-rounded peers equally interested in success in life charted the path for me.

Biggest challenge of your work:

Private civil law, divorce or otherwise, is a series of five daily challenges: having work to do, completing high caliber work in a timely fashion, keeping track of the time spent doing the work, billing that time, and collecting payment for the billed time. Each of these presents unique challenges but each is important to make a living. In terms of the actual work, family law is unique in that the facts occurring after the filing of litigation are important, and occasionally more so than those facts that existed on the date of filing; meaning, cases can turn dramatically many months after the case commenced. 

If you hadn’t chosen law, what profession would you have considered?

Foreign Service. I received a master’s degree in strategic studies from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, prior to attending law school and thoroughly enjoy being outside the United States when I am able. In fact, I am preparing these answers while on vacation in Ecuador.

What most people don’t know about you:

I can’t sing a lick but I enjoy singing (terrible) karaoke and secretly wish I was a musician.

Go-to places on campus:

I lived on campus for all four years, which I think was an integral part of my experience, so by graduation I had spent a lot of time at the familiar places. My first year the male SCHC freshmen lived on the top floors of Capstone Hall and our room keys opened the roof access door. We enjoyed catching the occasional breeze on the roof, 17 stories above Five Points.

Best SCHC memory:

While the classes were great, the people made the experience. I have fond memories of talented and dedicated professors and staff, and remain in frequent touch with many friends made during my time at the College. I also thoroughly enjoyed living on the Horseshoe.

Advice for today’s SCHC students:

Graduating “With Honors from the South Carolina Honors College” will prepare you for a wide variety of challenges in your life to come, but it is up to you to take full advantage of that preparation. As you begin achieving your goals, create opportunities for others—don’t pull the ladder up behind you.

Words to live by:

“The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” – R.J. Burdette. 

This quote helps keep me focused on doing my best in my business and personal life each and every day.