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Who We Are
  • Patrick Henry Nelson II (1856-1914) of Camden and Columbia, S.C. founded Nelson Mullins in 1897.
  • Nelson was the Fifth Circuit Solicitor, President of the South Carolina Bar Association (1911-1912), and member of the South Carolina House of Representatives (1885-1887). His son, William Shannon Nelson (1881-1939) ran the firm after his father, as did William’s son Patrick Henry Nelson III (1910-1964).
  • Patrick Henry Nelson became a key player in one of South Carolina’s most famous criminal trials, State v. Tillman. Nelson defended Lt. Gov. James Tillman for the murder of the editor of The State newspaper in Columbia.
  • Claude M. Scarborough, Jr. joined the firm in 1955 and became managing partner in 1964 after the death of Patrick Henry Nelson III.
  • The firm began planning for growth in the 1970s with a goal of adding attorneys and diversifying its practices. The firm jumped from 18 attorneys in 1978 to 93 in 1990 to 250 attorneys in 2001 through expansion in six offices located in Columbia, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. The firm’s growth was not just for growth’s sake. Strategic growth was the keystone during the period of rapid growth that lay ahead.
  • Edward W. Mullins, Jr. became managing partner in 1998 until 2001, when David E. Dukes became managing partner and continued the firm's growth nationally. 
  • In 2003, the firm expanded in North Carolina, opening new offices in Raleigh and Winston-Salem.
  • By 2004, the firm established an office in the nation’s capital. What had been a Southeastern firm began to make its move up the Eastern Seaboard. As new offices were being added, in 2004 the firm moved its Columbia operations to the Meridian Building on Main Street.
  • In 2005, the firm reached a milestone with 350 attorneys. That same year, the firm was recognized for its pro bono service with the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award from the ABA Litigation Section.
  • The firm’s East Coast presence took a leap forward in 2006 when the Boston Office opened at the historic Long Wharf location.
  • The firm’s growth led to new offices in Myrtle Beach and expanded space in Charlotte. Growth in Atlanta led to a move into a new office building at Atlantic Station.
  • By 2008, the firm had grown to 400 attorneys in 10 offices. The firm formed EducationCounsel with nine education professionals. And the firm’s commitment to diversity led to the development of a Diversity Strategic Plan.
  • In 2009, 18 attorneys and government relations professionals joined the firm in Boston and Washington, creating significant growth in the Northeast. Meanwhile, Canadian Ambassador David Wilkins and his team joined Nelson Mullins. During 2009, the firm added more offices in Tallahassee and West Virginia.
  • In 2010, Lahive & Cockfield, a top-ranked Boston intellectual property law firm, combined its resources with the firm, increasing the intellectual property team to more than 70 attorneys and technical specialists.
  • The firm began 2011 with the addition of a new business unit, Encompass E-Discovery, which quickly became an industry leader. 
  • James K. Lehman became managing partner in 2012.
  • In 2012, the firm entered Tennessee with the  addition of an office in Nashville. 
  • In 2013, Nelson Mullins opened its second Florida office, this one in Jacksonville. Nelson Mullins grew to 15 offices in 2015 with the addition of an office in New York City.
  • Then in 2016, the year the firm became AmLaw’s 103 largest law firm in the nation based on revenue, the firm headed farther west with the opening of an office in Denver.
  • The following year, in 2017, Nelson Mullins entered the West Coast market with an office in Los Angeles.
  • The firm also debuted in the 100 largest law firms in the nation based on gross revenues as ranked by The American Lawyer.
  • Broad and Cassel, a noted Florida full-service law firm, combined with Nelson Mullins in 2018. Founded in Miami in 1946, Broad and Cassel had grown from a one-office practice with a focus on banking and finance to a statewide firm with 170 attorneys in 10 cities by the time it transitioned to Nelson Mullins. Click here for more on the history of Broad and Cassel. 
  • Nelson Mullins is ranked the 68th largest law firm in the nation in 2020 with more than 850 attorneys and professionals by The American Lawyer.  
  • Firm names West Virginia partner Melissa Foster Bird and Winston-Salem Managing Partner Denise Gunter as the firm’s first Diversity Partners in 2019 to lead the execution of actions to develop, mentor, retain, and promote diverse and female attorneys. 
  • Firm names Baltimore partner Mike Brown as Diversity Partner in 2021. 
  • Nelson Mullins expands its national litigation practice in 2022 with the opening of offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, Richmond, Dallas, and Cleveland, bringing the
    headcount to more than 930 attorneys and other professionals.
A Chronological History

1897    Patrick H. Nelson opens office in Camden, known as P.H. Nelson, Attorney
1903    Patrick H. Nelson defends Lt. Gov. James Tillman, on trial for shooting
             N.G.`Gonzales, editor of The State newspaper
1904    William Shannon Nelson, Patrick Nelson’s son, joins the firm, now known as
             Nelson and Nelson
1920    Edward Mullins, Sr. joins the firm, now called Nelson, Gettys and Mullins
1924    Firm becomes Nelson and Mullins
1931    Patrick F. Barron Grier, Jr. joins the firm
1932    Patrick H. Nelson, grandson of the founder, joins the firm
1938    Firm changes its name to Nelson, Mullins and Grier
1939    Ed Mullins, Sr. becomes senior partner
1955    Claude Scarborough, Jr. joins the firm, bringing the number of attorneys to five
1959    Ed Mullins, Jr. joins the firm
1961    Claude Scarborough, Jr. and Ed Mullins, Jr. become partners. firm name is changed
             to Nelson Mullins Grier and Scarborough
1963    William S. Nelson, great-grandson of the founder, joins the firm
1964    Claude Scarborough becomes managing partner
1978    Firm has 18 attorneys
1984    Firm opens Myrtle Beach office
1987    Firm opens Greenville office as Gov. Dick Riley and father Ted Riley join the firm,
             which becomes Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
1990    Firm has 93 attorneys
1990    Firm opens office in Charleston
1992    Firm opens office in Atlanta
1995    Firm opens office in Charlotte
1998    Ed Mullins, Jr. becomes managing partner
2001    David E. Dukes becomes managing partner; firm has 250 attorneys
2003    Firm opens offices in Raleigh and Winston-Salem
2004    Firm opens Washington, D.C. office
2004    Firm moves into Meridian, a new high rise on Main street in Columbia
2005    Firm has more than 350 attorneys
2006    Firm opens office in Boston
2007    Firm moves into new office building at Atlantic Station in Atlanta
2008    Firm has more than 400 attorneys
2009    Firm opens office in Tallahassee
2009    Firm opens office in West Virginia
2010    Lahive & Cockfield, a top-ranked Boston intellectual property law firm, combined its
             resources with the firm
2011    Firm adds a new business unit, Encompass E-Discovery
2012    Nashville office opens
2013    Jacksonville office opens
2014    Firm has more than 500 attorneys and other professionals
2015    New York City office opens
2016    AmLaw ranks Nelson Mullins the 103rd largest law firm in the U.S. based on 2015
2016    Denver office opens
2017    Los Angeles office opens; American Lawyer ranks Nelson Mullins as the 88th
             largest law firm in the nation based on 2016 gross revenues
2018    Baltimore office opens; American Lawyer ranks Nelson Mullins as 87th largest law
             firm in the U.S. 
2018    Nelson Mullins combines with Florida-based Broad and Cassel, adding 150+
             attorneys in nine offices. Firm now has 785+ attorneys and professionals
2019    American Lawyer ranks Nelson Mullins as 69th largest law firm in the U.S.
2019    Firm names Melissa Foster Bird and Denise Gunter as the firm’s first Diversity
             Partners to lead the execution of actions to develop, mentor, retain, and
             promote diverse and female attorneys
2020    Shanahan Law Group Transitions into Raleigh office, growing the office to more
             than 30 attorneys
2021    Nelson Mullins is ranked the 68th largest law firm in the nation with more than 850
            attorneys and professionals by The American Lawyer
2021    Baltimore partner Mike Brown named firm Diversity Partner
2022    Firm adds offices in Minneapolis, San Diego, Richmond, Dallas, and Cleveland,
            bringing the headcount to more than 930 attorneys and other professionals



Broad and Cassel office commencement dates:
1946    Miami
1975    Orlando
1979    Boca Raton
1983    West Palm Beach 
1987    Fort Lauderdale
1987    Tallahassee
1994    Tampa
2013    Jacksonville
2017    Palm Beach