Nichols-Graham named Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Lawyer of the Year

KNG_headshotThe SC Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and the South Carolina Bar Foundation named South Carolina Legal Services’ Kimaka Nichols-Graham the 2014 Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Lawyer of the Year. The award will be presented to Nichols-Graham by the Bar Foundation and the Commission at the 2015 Bar Foundation Gala on January 24 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Nichols-Graham is the managing attorney at SC Legal Services in Greenville and has been with the firm since 1998. She also practices primarily family and education law in cases that include divorce, custody, school discipline, special education, and special needs adoptions.

Nichols-Graham developed and leads the Education Law Unit. In this capacity, she searches for funding, trains attorneys across the state to represent students in the public education system, represents students when a local attorney is not available and educates parents on how to be an advocate for their children.

In her letter of support for Nichols-Graham’s nomination, Andrea Loney, executive director of South Carolina Legal Services said, “Whether assigned to a case, training a new attorney, conducting a staff meeting or building team spirit for SCLS, Mrs. Nichols-Graham represents SCLS in the very best tradition of legal services.”

Amanda Adler, an education attorney at South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, also commented, “Kimaka Nichols-Graham actively carries out the aspirational pro bono goals of all lawyers and represents the very highest ideals of Legal Services; in sum, she not only ‘talks the talk,’ but “walks the walk.’”

Rep. Leola Robinson Simpson said of Nichols-Graham, “Her background, experience and her sharp analytical mind make her a formidable voice in leveling the learning field for students, especially at school disciplinary hearings…These youth went on to college, the military or the workforce, and are now a credit to our community.”

Nichols-Graham received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Winthrop University. She received a Master of Science in Public Policy from Rutgers University and her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

The Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Lawyer of the Year Award was established in 1989 in memory of Ellen Hines Smith of Spartanburg. The award is presented to recognize a lawyer who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to legal services and to the poor in South Carolina.

To make a tribute gift in honor of Ms. Nichols-Graham, download the Foundation’s donor form or give online. To celebrate with Ms. Nichols-Graham, join the Foundation at Gala 2015 by ordering tickets online or by calling (803) 765-0517.

 The South Carolina Bar Foundation funds the advancement of justice by improving access, education and accountability.  Since 1987, the Foundation has allocated approximately $47.6 million to various legal-related organizations that work on behalf of the justice community. For more information, visit


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