Desa Ballard is a little different than your average lawyer. By her own account she grew up in a trailer park. “I have no pedigree,” she says proudly.
Her love of words took her to the University of South Carolina, where she majored in journalism and then to USC law school. After a decade and a half of clerking and working as a staff attorney at the South Carolina Supreme Court and at the firm Ness Motley, she opened her own solo practice focusing on professional ethics and licensing, which later grew to encompass civil litigation.
Ballard’s path to law isn’t the only circuitous route she’s taken in life. Though she’s married to her high school sweetheart, whom she met at age 14, it took her 30 years to reconnect and tie the knot. “All the years we were apart just melted away,” she says.
Ballard is dedicated to mentoring those who are coming up behind her, both as an adjunct professor at USC Law School and as a volunteer for Lawyers Helping Lawyers. She also does CLE presentations several times each year.
A self-described Superwoman, her practice grew to the point in 2011 where she needed a partner. Together, she and Harvey Watson claim, unofficially of course, that they make pigs fly.
“A lot of phone calls to our office begin with, ‘this case is a little unusual…’” she says. “Lawyering is not for everyone. It’s a contact sport.”
And now, she’s in the Hall of Fame.