A certified specialist in South Carolina employment law, Nekki built on her experience working in a corporate human resources department to create a legal practice focusing on civil litigation.
Nekki’s goal as an attorney is to treat every client with dignity and to strive for justice. These values were instilled at an early age, as she watched her mother, a public defender who went to law school when Nekki was in second grade, advocate for people trapped in the system.
Similarly, Nekki represents clients in their fights against the system. Her emphasis is on employee benefits under ERISA.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is the federal law governing all benefits under pension and health plans. Private companies aren’t required to provide those benefits, but if they do, they must meet certain standards. This includes having a written plan and maintaining funding levels.
Nekki’s clients include employees who believe the company has wrongfully denied them disability benefits. She works with them from the time of the initial claim, on through internal appeals and into the court system if necessary. She also assists those denied life insurance benefits.
Her work in employee benefits also includes cases involving federal COBRA and South Carolina health insurance continuation laws.
A co-founder of Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, Nekki’s practice includes a range of other employment law issues as well, such as wage disputes, discrimination and wrongful termination.
Nekki earned her Juris Doctor at the University of South Carolina School of Law after working for several years for a publicly traded insurance company. She rose through the human resources department to the position of corporate recruiter, responsible for hiring employees for more than 225 positions a year.
In addition to her legal career, Nekki has long been committed to the cause of social justice. In 2002 she was a founder SC Equality, the state’s LGBTQ civil rights organization. She served on its board and related boards for 15 years. Her legal work at times has overlapped her commitment to the cause.
Nekki and Burnette Shutt & McDaniel co-founder Malissa Burnette led the legal team that paved the way for same-sex marriage in South Carolina nine months before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all states must recognize same-sex marriage.
Nekki also is deeply committed to helping the next generation of lawyers. She’s presented, moderated, planned and created a number of Continuing Legal Education programs for the SC Bar. She’s developed innovative programs, such as a CLE on Modern Family Law that addresses issues related to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender clients. Another CLE she co-created, “Against The Wind: A Legal History of Civil Rights in South Carolina,” received a national Award of Professional Excellence from the Association for Continuing Legal Education.
- Supreme Court of the United States, 2014
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 1995
- U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, 1995
- South Carolina, 1995
Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law
- University of South Carolina School of Law (J.D. 1995)
- University of South Carolina (B.A. 1988, Communications)
- Stetson University (1984-86)
- South Carolina Bar
- Chair of Labor and Employment Sections (2010)
- Executive Committee of Labor and Employment Sections (2006 to present)
- Young Lawyers Division of South Carolina Bar, Executive Committee (1998 to 2002)
- SC Equality Coalition and SC Equality Foundation and SC Equality PAC
- Co-founder (2002)
- Chair (2002-2003)
- Board Member (2002 to present)
- Progress South
- Founding board member (2015 to present)
- SC Bar Young Lawyers Division Technology Committee
- Co-chair (2001-2002)
- Chair of committee which revised the Landlord, Tenant and the Law brochure, 2000 as revised. Distributed to the general public through the Bar and through the magistrate courts
- Palmetto Tree Project Auction Ticket Sales, Co-chair (2000)
- Class of ’95 USC Law School, Chair of 5-year Reunion (2000)
- Victory Fund
- National Board of Directors Co-chair (1997 to 1999)
- Board Member (1995-2000)
- AIDS Benefit Foundation, Dining with Friends Co-chair (1997)
- USC School of Law
- Honor Council Chair (1994-95)
- Elected Member (1992-1995)
- Dean’s Advisory Committee (1993-1995)
- Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties
- Chair, Volunteer Professionals Committee (1991 – 1992)
- March of Dimes Columbia, SC, Executive Committee of WalkAmerica (1991)
- Keep America Beautiful of the Midlands, Publicity Committee (1990)
- Kappa Alpha Theta House Corporation, President (1990-1993)
- Rho Chi, USC Rush (1987)
- Included in The Best Lawyers in America 2010-20 editions in Employment Law – Management; Employment Law – Individuals; Litigation – Labor & Employment; Honored in 2016-20 editions in Litigation – ERISA; Honored in Employee Benefits – ERISA, 2017-20 Honored in 2018-20 edition in Commercial Litigation
- Best Lawyers in America Columbia Lawyer of the Year, Litigation – ERISA and Employee Benefits (ERISA) in 2017 and 2019. Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law – Individuals, 2018. Lawyer of the Year, Litigation – ERISA, 2020
- 2019 Civic Star Award, Richland County Bar Association
- 2016 South Carolina Leadership in Law Award from South Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
- Top 50 Most Influential of the Midlands 2015 by Columbia Business Monthly. Co-honoree with M. Malissa Burnette
- Order of the Pink Palmetto, SC Pride 2015
- SC Equality, Founder’s Award, 2013
- University of South Carolina James Petigru Compleat Lawyer Award for Professional Excellence (2005)
- “Legal Elite of the Midlands”, 2011-15, 2017-18 by Columbia Metropolitan Magazine in field of labor and employment law
- Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyer yearly since it inaugural Edition in 2011
- Recipient, John C. Holland Scholarship (1995)
- Inducted into Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity
- Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, USC School of Law (1994-95)
- YWCA Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) Award (1991)
- Rookie of the Year, Public Relations Society of America (1991)
- Mentor of the Year, USC Public Relations Student Society (1990-91)
- Winning Team Coordinator, Seibels Bruce Employee Suggestion Program (1990)
- Seibels Bruce Pick & Shovel Award (1988)
- USC President’s Scholar (1986-1988)
- USA et al. vs. Bluewave Healthcare Consultants, et al. App. Case No. 16-1600 (4th Cir. March 23, 2017)
- R. Meyer and Sons Co. v. Custom Mechanical CSRA, LLC, Friedmann, et al., S.C. Ct. App. Case No. 2013-001839 (decided June 10, 2015)
- State ex rel Wilson v. Irvin Condon, 410 S.C. 554, 765 S.E.2d 834 (Memo) (2014)
- Condon v. Wilson, Att’y Gen. of SC, 21 F. Supp.3d 572 (D.S.C. 2014) and 135 S. Ct. 702 (2014)
- Champion v. Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc., 550 F.3d 353 (4th Cir. 2008).
- Snavely v. AMISUB of South Carolina, Inc., 379 S.C. 386, 665 S.E.2d 222 (Ct. App. 2008) (NO.4413), rehearing denied, petition for certiorari denied.
- Shaw v. Atlantic Coast Life Ins. Co., 322 S.C. 139, 470 S.E.2d 382 (Ct. App. 1996), rehearing denied (May 23, 1996), certiorari denied by Atlantic Coast Life Ins. Co. v. Shaw, 520 U.S. 1167, 117 S.Ct. 1429, 137 L.Ed.2d 537, 65 USLW 3689, 65 USLW 3692 (U.S.S.C. Apr 14, 1997).
Disclaimer: Any information posted about cases is intended only to be representative of the firm’s practice. These examples are not intended to, and cannot be relied upon, to predict the results in any other case.
- Authored chapter on employee benefits law (ERISA) for book entitled Labor and Employment Law for South Carolina Lawyers, Third Edition, 2007 and Fourth Edition, 2010. (Fifth edition to be published in 2018)
- Authored chapter on employment law and employee benefits law (ERISA) for a book published by the South Carolina Bar entitled A Paralegal’s Guide to Survival, 2010.
- Chaired the South Carolina Bar YLD committee that revised the Landlord, Tenant and the Law brochure, 2000 as revised. Distributed to the general public through the Bar and through the magistrate judge system.
- Authored “The Legal Aspects of Hiring and Firing: An Overview of Employment Practices in South Carolina 1999.” Published originally by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association and reproduced in whole in the Legal Guide for South Carolina Broadcasters, 1999.
- Authored “Owners’ Guide to Evictions and Abandoned Property in the Manufactured Housing Community, 1998.” Published by the Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina, 1998.
- Authored “Outline: The Law of Comparative Negligence and Exceptions Thereto, 1996.” Published for The Seibels Bruce Insurance Group, 1996.
- Presenter, “Inception: Perspective from a Plaintiff’s Attorney” and “Ask A Lawyer” panel member, Columbia Society for Human Resource Management annual legal workshop, April 25, 2019.
- Presenter, South Carolina Bar Convention, Employment & Labor Law Section Continuing Legal Education program on ADA, FMLA and ERISA, January 2019.
- Commentator, “Going Through the Motions? Making Meaningful Use of Negotiations, Motions, and Experts in Federal Court: A Guide to Navigating the Trial Process” joint seminar of the SC Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association National Conference of Federal Trial Judges, August 2018.
- Presenter, South Carolina Association for Justice Convention, August 2018.
- Co-organizer, moderator and presenter “South Carolina Bar Essentials Series” Continuing Legal Education seminar on employment law, July 2018.
- Presenter, South Carolina Bar Employment Law Division Mid-Year Conference, “The How-Tos on #MeToo” CLE, May 2018.
- Panelist, “Reconstruction’s Legacy: The History and Contemporary Significance of the Fourteenth Amendment,”April 19, 2018.
- Presenter, South Carolina Probate Judges and Staff seminar on estate law and same-sex couples, April 2017.
- Planner and presenter, South Carolina Bar continuing legal education seminar “Modern Family II: The Fundamentals of Representing Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Clients,” March 24, 2017.
- Planner, co-moderator and presenter, “Against The Wind: A Legal History of Civil Rights in South Carolina” SC Bar CLE, February 2017.
- “Two Decades of Gay Civil Rights Activism in South Carolina” presentation, James L. Petigru Chapter of the American Inns of Court, Charleston School of Law, Feb. 8, 2017.
- Presentation about transgender bathroom issues, South Carolina Parks and Recreation Association program, Aug. 4, 2016.
- Co-organizer, moderator and presenter “South Carolina Bar Essentials Series” Continuing Legal Education seminar on employment law, July 29, 2016.
- Presenter, “Hot Issues in Labor and Employment Law,” U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission Seminar, Charlotte, N.C., May 20, 2016.
- Panelist, Federal Courts Law Review Symposium panel discussion about same-sex marriage, Charleston School of Law, Feb. 19, 2016.
- Presenter, SC Tort Law Update, a program organized by the SC Bar Continuing Legal Education Division, Feb. 12, 2016.
- Presenter, South Carolina Bar Convention, Employment & Labor Law Section Continuing Legal Education program on legal issues related to transgender employees, Jan. 22, 2016.
- Presenter, Google AdWords program, SC Bar’s 5th annual “Everything You Need to Know About Ethics” seminar, Jan. 15, 2016.
- Organizer, moderator, and presenter “South Carolina Bar Essentials Series” Continuing Legal Education seminar on employment law, July 31, 2015.
- Presenter, “Laws that Impact the LGBT Community,” Palmetto Paralegals Association, Oct. 15, 2014.
- Presenter, “South Carolina Essentials” series Continuing Legal Education seminar on employment law, Sept. 19, 2014.
- Presenter, “South Carolina and Federal Employment Law Update,” South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education seminar, Aug. 26, 2014.
- Presenter, “Negotiations to Dismissal – The Art of Settlement,” South Carolina Bar Labor and Employment Law Section Mid-Year Meeting, May 16, 2014.
- Presenter, “Anatomy of a Lawsuit: From Intake To Complaint” and “Ask A Lawyer” panel member, Columbia Society for Human Resource Management annual legal workshop, April 16, 2014.
- Planner and moderator, South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education seminar “The ‘Modern Family’ I: The Fundamentals of Representing Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Clients,” March 14, 2014.
- Featured speaker at the South Carolina/North Carolina Credit Union League’s 2013 Human Resources Conference, Oct. 24, 2013.
- Presented “Employer Bloopers That Lead To Lawsuits” to the South Carolina Society of Human Resource Management annual meeting, April 18, 2013.
- Presenter on “ERISA Litigation” at the 28th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law Program, October 26-27, 2012.
- Presenter at Palmetto Paralegal Association’s 20th Annual Seminar for Paralegals, Attorneys, and legal staff on Oct. 15, 2010, on the subject of employment law.
- Presenter at “The Latest Labor and Employment Law Developments: an Update for Human Resources Professional,” sponsored by Columbia Society of Human Resources Professionals on April 15, 2010, on “Ask a Lawyer” lunch panel.
- Presenter at the Association of South Carolina Claimant Attorneys for Workers’ Compensation on May 8, 2009, on Employment Release Issues.
- Presenter at the 2009 South Carolina Labor and Employment Law Mid-Year Update on May 7, 2009.
- Presenter at “The Latest Labor and Employment Law Developments: an Update for Human Resources Professional,” sponsored by Columbia Society of Human Resources Professionals on April 16, 2009, on lunch panel and “Five tips from your ex-employee’s soon-to-be lawyer.”
- Presenter NBI Seminars on “Litigating ERISA Claims,” February 25, 2008 and February 11, 2009.
- Co-Presenter at the 25th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law Program and Annual Meeting, October 23, 2009, on “Ethical Issues Facing Employment Lawyers”.
- Course planner for the 2008 South Carolina Bar Convention, Labor and Employment Law Program, January 24-27, 2008.
- Course planner for the 23rd Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law Program and Annual Meeting, November 3-2, 2007.
- Course planner and presenter at the 2007 South Carolina Labor & Employment Law Mid-year Update on June 29, 2007.
- Presenter at the Association of South Carolina Claimant Attorneys for Workers’ Compensation on May 11, 2007, on “How Workers’ Compensation Laws Impact HIPAA, ERISA, COBRA, ADA, and FMLA”.
- Presenter at “The Latest Labor and Employment Law Developments: an Update for Human Resources Professionals,” sponsored by Columbia Society of Human Resources Professionals on April 19, 2007, on Workers’-compensation Related Leave – Issues which HR must address.
- Presenter at “The Complete Survival Guide to SC Workers’ Comp” on January 31, 2007, on “An overview of how state workers’ compensation and other employment laws like HIPAA, ERISA, COBRA, OSHA, ADA, and FMLA fit together”.
- Presenter at the 22nd Annual NC/SC Labor and Employment Law Program and Annual Meeting on October 27-28, 2006 (Asheville), South Carolina Law, “Year in Review”.
- Presenter at “The Latest Labor and Employment Law Developments: an Update for Human Resources Professional,” sponsored by Columbia Society of Human Resources Professionals on May 18, 2006.
- Adjunct Professor, University of South Carolina, 2000-2005.