Bannon Law Group, LLC - Relationship-Based Law in the Lowcountry
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai
The law careers of attorneys Jim Bannon and Meredith Bannon took rather winding routes before finding their forever-home in the Lowcountry, where their family business, Bannon Law Group, LLC, is serving clients with legal matters ranging from criminal defense to personal injury, and real estate to estate planning. Both 2006 graduates of the University of Miami School of Law, they met virtually during their second year (in a law school chat room), married in 2007, “and essentially have been together ever since,” Jim said.
“After graduation we both got jobs in a real small county in Arizona [Mohave County] where we worked as prosecutors for two years. We were two hours southeast of Las Vegas and two hours west of Flagstaff.” With a severely limited number of attorneys in the county, both Bannons were doing very demanding work. Jim was assigned to the drug and gang task force, and after three months working as a public defender, Meredith moved to the local prosecutor’s office, where she worked on sex crimes against children. Not starting in your typical out-of-the-gate, just-passed-the-bar law jobs, both were quickly set on career trajectories that would have taken much longer in most other locations. “Real early on, we were able to do really serious felony work,” Jim said. “That’s part of what we were able to bring to South Carolina.”
Both from the East Coast, Jim’s undergrad degree was from Penn State, where his dad still teaches, and Meredith’s was from Tulane University in New Orleans. They were ready to move back east when South Carolina’s Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffy Stone offered them both jobs. Smart, serious, and ready to get down to business, the Bannons were two of the founding members of the Career Criminal Prosecution Unit, formed in 2009, created to target defendants based on their criminal history and their danger to the community. “The career criminal team was so important to us, because it allowed us freedom and flexibility,” Meredith said. “We were doing things the solicitor’s office hadn’t been able to do before—working on cases that were getting stale or didn’t have any traction.”
Knowing they were ready to establish some roots, and with the economic effects of 2008 telling them to stay put, Jim went into private practice. Meredith followed suit in 2013, and in March of 2015, she joined Bannon Law Group, LLC. Residents of Bluffton’s Promenade before the majority of the business and restaurants arrived, Jim said, “We’ve gotten to grow our business right alongside the town. We arrived just as the boom was about to happen, so we’ve gotten to know old Bluffton the way it was for a long time, and we’ve gotten to see it transform into a much bigger economic power and tourist destination in its own right.”
“We were concerned that people wouldn’t want to use an attorney not from the area,” Meredith said. “What we have found is that with so many people moving here from other places, they identify with our history. We’re finding that we have a lot in common with people moving to the area. It’s an amazing place to live.”
Bannon Law Group, LLC is an approachable, relationship-based law practice, with a team that feels like family.
Business is good, and the Bannons are looking forward to expanding their team in the fall by adding an associate. “Lindy [Gunderson] will be growing our estate planning business,” Jim said. “It’s something we’re already doing, and she has the interest and the drive to cultivate that; the business will grow with her.”
Bannon Law Group, LLC is an approachable, relationship-based law practice, with a team that feels like family, including long-time office manager/litigation paralegal Cathy West, and Bonnie and Rikki Peluso (mom and daughter) who work with Meredith in the real estate division. (The firm is a preferred closing attorney for home builder DR Horton.) “I like educating and helping clients understand why certain things matter. Most transactional attorneys do not have a litigation background, and most litigation attorneys do not engage in transactional practice,” Meredith said. With experience in both areas, she brings a level of skill to her clients’ cases not typically found in real estate law.
Whether it is a real estate issue, criminal defense or personal injury, the Bannons recommend talking to a lawyer, particularly if something doesn’t seem right. “Something that happens over and over again, particularly with people who are in accidents: They say, ‘I’m not a litigious person. I’ve never been involved in a lawsuit in my life, but my back still hurts,’ or possibly something worse,” Jim said. “At that point, you really need an attorney who is used to dealing with the insurance companies.”
“A lot of people are intimidated, but we can do so much more if you get us [involved] in the beginning rather than when something has already gone off the rails and then you need us to fix it,” Meredith said.
The Bannon family has found the Lowcountry a most hospitable place to settle, and they are each involved in the community in ways that enrich their lives and their practice. Jim is chairman of the board of directors for the Literacy Center. “A lot of people don’t have the education to lift themselves out of an impoverished situation, which can lead to trouble with the law,” he said. “In general, it’s a much more vulnerable community. I want to find a way to give back.”
Meredith Bannon is on the board of Hope Haven of the Lowcountry, LLC, a local child advocacy non-profit and is a member of local bar associations, the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head, and the MS Society. She is also a room mom in five-year-old daughter Emma Grace’s (better known as E.G.) classroom at Cross Schools in Bluffton.
E.G. is learning a few tricks from her parents, Meredith said. “She recently said, ‘Wouldn’t you agree that I need a cupcake?’ She’ll walk you right to the answer she wants.”
Marking 10 years of practicing law, the Bannons have found a comfortable stopping place on the winding road, where growing a family and their Bluffton business is just right. “It’s cool to tell E.G. this is what we’re doing. It has our name on it. This is who we are.”
Bannon Law Group, LLC is located at 10 Westbury Park Way, Unit C-1, Bluffton. For more information, please call (843) 815-4505 or visit bannonlawgroup.com.