In 2011, representatives of law schools, law firms, bar associations, the judiciary, and other legal organizations who had attended national mentoring conferences hosted by the University of South Carolina Law School in 2008 and 2010, convened a national summit on lawyer professionalism and mentoring in conjunction with the mid-year ABA meeting in Atlanta. They concluded that a special organization should be formed to provide resources and community to encourage lawyer and law student mentoring, and the National Legal Mentoring Consortium was born. Through then-director Professor John Montgomery and Assistant Dean Sharon Williams, the Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough Center on Professionalism at the University of South Carolina Law School agreed to serve as the home of the Consortium and provide staff, and administrative and technical support. With immense personal and professional dedication, John and Sharon shepherded the Consortium through its first ten years.
But the history of the NLMC can actually be traced back even further, to the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough law firm, now Nelson Mullins, and in particular, to the efforts of one of the firm’s partners, Ed Mullins, Jr. For it was Ed Mullins who championed the establishment of the Center on Professionalism at the law school, without which the NLMC would have had no home or base of support.
Ten years after its founding, and with the retirement of John and Sharon from the University of South Carolina School of Law, the Consortium moved to WMU-Cooley Law School at the invitation of Cooley’s Associate Dean Amy Timmer, named NLMC Director in 2021, and Cooley’s President and Dean James McGrath.
The photos above depict the NLMC’s evolution, from the Nelson Mullins firm’s Columbia, SC office building, to the School of Law at the University of South Carolina, to the Cooley Center at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Michigan campus.