Criteria for Solo and Small Firm Section Award
In order to increase awareness in the state and in the legal community of the value of lawyers in small firms, the Council of the Solo & Small Firm Section voted on May 30, 2013, to inaugurate an award to honor a sole practitioner or small law firm that has demonstrated service and leadership to the community or fellow lawyers.
- The award will be called the “Solo and Small Firm Section Award.”
- The award will be made annually, unless there are no exceptional nominees.
- The award will be presented at the Section’s annual meeting or conference.
- Nominations will be solicited from the membership of the South Carolina Bar.
- An award recipient must display exemplary skill and conduct in his/her practice of law and have made significant contributions of time and talent to the South Carolina Bar, the lawyer's local bar, or the lawyer's local community or devoted substantial time and effort to the education and training of fellow solo or small firm lawyers in South Carolina.
- Eligible recipients are any lawyer in a small firm who is a member of the South Carolina Bar in good standing, or, a small firm as defined by the Bylaws of the Solo & Small Firm Section at that time.
- Those ineligible to receive the award include members of Council, until one year after the member has left the Council.
- The award recipient will be selected by a majority vote of the Solo & Small Firm Council at a meeting at which at least two-thirds of the Council are in attendance (“attendance” as defined by the Section Bylaws).
- The award will consist solely of recognition and an engraved trophy or plaque. No monetary award shall be given.
Michael J. Polk
Columbia, South Carolina
The South Carolina Bar Solo and Small Firm Section has named Michael “Mike” Polk of Columbia as the recipient of its 2020 Solo and Small Firm Section Award in recognition of his service to the community and outstanding leadership.
Polk, an attorney at Belser & Belser, PA in Columbia, focuses on probate administration and litigation, estate planning, and civil litigation.
Active in both the South Carolina Bar and Richland County Bar, Polk is well known within the legal community for being resourceful, thoughtful and intentional in helping his fellow attorneys, particularly in the Solo and Small Firm Section. He’s quick to respond and makes the time to go the extra mile.
“I can’t tell you how many times over the years he’s sent me a note following up on something I mentioned in passing, gone above and beyond to offer input or a helping hand, or shared a heartfelt compliment on work we’ve done,” said Kristen E. Horne, Of Counsel at Unum Group in Columbia. “Mike is very observant, thoughtful and generous with his time and kindnesses. Those little gestures mean so much and reveal a lot about his warm character.”
Katherine Gettys, president of the Lexington County Bar Association and Polk’s nominator, echoes Horne’s sentiments.
“Mike Polk is a fine lawyer and person who has made extraordinary contributions in service over the past decades to the South Carolina Bar, the Richland County Bar and the Richland County Probate Court,” said Gettys. “He proactively mentors other solo or small firm attorneys and is quite often the first attorney on our listserv to email an educated, helpful response to the group.”
At the Richland County Bar, Polk has served as secretary/treasurer and co-editor of the Richbar News newsletter and is currently a member of the Executive Committee. He’s also served as the Richland County Probate Court liaison and worked for several years on the Probate Code Revision Committee and the Power of Attorney Subcommittee.
“I can say nothing negative about this prince of a guy and a great attorney,” said Derrick Williams, Polk’s successor as RCBA treasurer and attorney at Mickle & Bass in Columbia. “There was never a time when I had a question or an issue that he would not take a moment to respond. I can think of no one more deserving of the award than Mike.”
Polk currently serves as chair of the South Carolina Bar Technology Committee, where he is able to exercise his passion in advocating for lawyers to embrace technology. He is an SC Lawyer author, former member of SC Bar Elder Law Committee, and former co-chair of the Elder Law Month Task Force and CLE subcommittee. In addition, Polk contributed to the SC Bar Senior Citizens’ Handbook. He has presented many seminars and CLEs over the course of his career.
Polk’s service to the community and fellow man started well before his career in law. After college, he joined the Navy before being honorably discharged and ultimately attending law school.
“It was an unexpected honor just to be nominated for this award,” said Polk. “I attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate. The Virginia Tech motto is ut prosim, which means ‘that I may serve.’ I would like to accept this award on behalf of any solo or small firm attorney who took the time to serve their fellow attorneys, the public and the legal system as a whole, particularly in 2020, when the need was so great.”
The annual South Carolina Bar Solo and Small Firm Section Award honors altruistic actions by a solo practitioner, small law firm or single lawyer in a small law firm as demonstrated by recent service or outstanding leadership to the public or fellow lawyers.
Charleston, South Carolina
The South Carolina Bar Solo & Small Firm Section has named Tiffany Provence of Charleston as the 2019 recipient of its Solo and Small Firm Section Award in recognition of her service to the legal community.
Provence founded My Legal BFF this year as a place to support one another and offer support and wisdom. The Facebook Community has since blossomed into a physical community of women supporting women the legal profession.
“My Legal BFF was a concept that came to me after speaking with several women who seemed to be suffering in silence from the perils of practicing law as a female, mom, wife, daughter, caretaker, sister, friend. The practice exhausts us emotionally and can often leave us feeling alone and afraid to admit any weaknesses,” Provence said. “My hope was for My Legal BFF to connect 200-300 female lawyers to rally around each other. I never imagined it would grow to over 2,000 members in just a few months.”
A partner at Provence Messervy in Summerville, Provence practices probate, personal injury, and wrongful death law. In addition, she currently serves as Drug Court Judge for Dorchester County. She teaches over 40 hours of continuing legal education courses; and volunteers at wills clinics, at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with the SC Supreme Court Mentoring Program, and on the SC Bar Pro Bono Board as First Circuit Representative.
Tiffany is a graduate of the University of Florida and the University of South Carolina School of Law. She holds dual certifications as both a Civil and Family Court mediator and is a licensed real estate broker in the state of South Carolina.
This award honors altruistic actions by a solo practitioner, small law firm, or single lawyer in a small law firm as demonstrated by recent service or outstanding leadership to the public or fellow lawyers.
Meagan T. Gentry
Charleston, South Carolina
The Council of the Solo and Small Firm Section is proud to announce that Meagan T. Gentry of Charleston, South Carolina has been named the winner of the 2018 Solo and Small Firm Section Award for outstanding community service. Read more about this achievement here.
Jenkinson, Jarrett, & Kellahan, P.A.
Kingstree, South Carolina
The Council of the Solo and Small Firm Section is proud to announce that Jenkinson, Jarrett & Kellahan, P.A. of Kingstree, South Carolina has been named the winner of the 2016 Solo and Small Firm Section Award for outstanding community service. Read more about this achievement here.
Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson, and Delgado, LLC
Columbia, South Carolina
Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson and Delgado, LLC of Columbia, South Carolina was named the winner of the 2015 Solo and Small Firm Section Award for outstanding community service. Read more about this achievement here.
Columbia, South Carolina
Ken Lester of Columbia, South Carolina was named the winner of the first Solo and Small Firm Section Award for outstanding community service. Read more about this achievement here.