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Meet our Legal Eagles
Desa Ballard
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I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I love it more now than I did when I started. I hope we have made a difference for the people we have represented through the years. And we want to make lots more good law, especially in areas regulating the practice of law and other protecting licensed professionals. The lawyer regulatory system works very well; the other regulatory systems, not so much.
I grew up in Augusta GA, and was moved to South Carolina in the late 1960s to finish my senior year of high school by ill-guided parents who saw no harm in moving 15-year old girl away from the only friends she had ever known (and her boyfriend). I graduated from Irmo High School in a year that was long, long ago and made Columbia my home.
No one in my family or that I knew had ever been in law. After getting a journalism degree from USC, I wanted to continue to learn, and law school seemed a worthy challenge. My first legal job was during law school at a distinguished Columbia law firm who wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. They had never had a female law clerk before and weren’t quite sure what to do with me, so I kind of injected myself into pretty much everything. Turns out I’m a little pushy like that.
Wonderful experiences came to me in the form of clerkships with the Honorable Ralph King Anderson Jr., who was then on the circuit court bench, and later for the late Chief Justice J. B. “Bubba” Ness (who was warned by Judge Anderson to watch out or I would take over his office.) After leaving the Supreme Court in 1987, I practiced for ten (10) years with a law firm before realizing I was a round peg in a square hole. I looked for a place where I fit, but there was none, so I started my own firm by default, in 1997. It’s been a wonderful experience and we’ve worked with lots of amazing people. If you’re old enough to remember The Carpenters, “we’ve only just begun. . . “
I finally married Butch Allen, that wonderful man who was my boyfriend when my parents dragged me away from Augusta, GA, and he is the love of my life. He’s persistent, thank goodness. We have no children, but we claim Mara Ballard, Marcy Ballard, and the law firm staff as family. We have two dachshunds, Frankie and Hermione, who came to us from Dachshund Rescue of North America, a fabulous organization that helps dachshunds find forever homes when their first families cannot keep them.
The Ballard-Allen family divides its time between here and Cocoa Beach, Florida, where I turned a spare bedroom into an office so I can work remotely, embraced by the sea breeze, when I’m not at my real office. It’s hard to reform a workaholic.

Harvey M. Watson III
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I am a native South Carolinian that grew up in Irmo, SC before attending The Citadel, where I served on the Honor Court before graduation with a degree in Political Science in 2002.  I left Charleston and headed to Atlanta, where I attended the Emory University School of Law until graduation in 2005. I returned to my home state and practiced in Columbia for several years handling personal injury and domestic litigation, with a portion of my practice devoted to residential real estate transactions.  I often call upon that varied legal experience to understand my clients and advocate effectively on their behalf. 

I’ve been with Ballard Watson since 2008. In addition to my practice and involvement in preparing continuing legal education programs, I participate as a member of the South Carolina Bar Association Professional Responsibility Committee. My wife, who is a nurse at a local hospital, and I have been together since high school and happily married since 2004.  Our beagle and cat are doing well, despite receiving much less attention than they did before our two beautiful daughters joined Team Watson.
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