Alumni Spotlight: McIntosh (’13) receives national honor

Charleston School of Law alumnus Leslie McIntosh (’13) has been selected by the American Bar Association (ABA) as a recipient of the 2022-2023 “On the Rise Top 40 Young Lawyers.” The program provides “national recognition for young lawyers who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal and community service.”

As a young girl, McIntosh was inspired to pursue a law degree by watching her grandfather work tirelessly to serve the greater good.

“He’s this amazing man,” she said. “He will turn 96 in October. He fought in the Korean War. He’s gone to DC and argued in front of the Supreme Court. He’s done all these amazing things. I was at an event with my grandfather, and watching him interact with the public, and the respect he gained because of the impact he made in the community made me want to follow in his footsteps.”

After earning her undergraduate degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, McIntosh’s uncle, the Honorable Judge R. Lawton McIntosh (circuit court judge, 10th circuit) encouraged her to apply to Charleston School of Law. “He talked to me about Charleston and how impressed he was by the school,” she said. “Based on his recommendation, I applied.”

McIntosh arrived on campus in the Fall 2010, and true to her character, she poured herself out to learn, lead and serve in the legal field. She joined Charleston Law student organizations Phi Delta Phi and Women in Law, participated in Moot Court, worked as a summer extern with the Charleston Prosecutor’s office and logged pro bono hours with Charleston Legal Services.

Since graduating from Charleston Law, McIntosh has also received the ATHENA Young Professional Award (2022), Grady B. Anthony Public Service Award (2022), SC Women Lawyers’ Association/ Emerging Leader Award (2020), South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division President’s award (2019) and the Anderson County 20 under 40 (2016).

In 2014, McIntosh also made history when she was named the first female attorney at the firm of McIntosh, Sherard, Sullivan & Brousseau in Anderson, South Carolina where she works primarily in elder and probate law and estate planning. In 2021, she again made history as the first female partner of the firm.

A Heart of Service

“If you get a chance to volunteer, do it. It’ll change your life.” – Leslie McIntosh

Last year, McIntosh received two awards for her leadership and service to the community: The ATHENA Young Professional Award, an honor given to emerging women leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession and the Grady B. Anthony Public Service Award, an honor given to a member of the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division who support public service initiatives.

“It was a shock,” McIntosh said of the latter. “The incoming president called me and asked if I would come to Asheville and speak at their annual retreat,” said McIntosh. “I was scheduled to speak for about 30 minutes and then I could do whatever else I wanted to do for the day. I was like, sure. So, I speak on a panel, then I tour Biltmore, and then I go to the social that night. I knew that they were doing the Young Lawyer of the Year award, but I thought I was just there to have a good time. Then the president announced the winner and, yeah, I cried. To get the inaugural award was amazing.”

Jeanmarie Tankersley, president of the SC Bar Young Lawyers Division said, “Leslie is a wonderful example of how we can all do better to serve those around us, despite the busyness of the practice of law.”

McIntosh said serving has changed her life.

“It opens your eyes to the fact that not everybody has the same opportunities that you do growing up,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like my eyes have been opened and that my heart has been broken a little bit, but there are other times where it’s just learning something new and getting to know people and seeing the situation that they’re in and how giving something so small truly affects their lives.”

“To effectuate change, you must start somewhere. I didn’t know anybody in Anderson. I came in, started small and got to know people. Putting your feet on the ground and going and doing things and meeting people shows the type of person that you are.”

Giving Back

“At one point you were in their shoes, and you need to remember how frightening it was to be in your first year practice.” – Leslie McIntosh

In addition to her daily duties as a practicing attorney and serving in the community, McIntosh has a passion to mentor young attorneys. Through a mentorship program available through the South Carolina Bar, she has been paired with a new attorney for a year-long mentoring program.

McIntosh takes her responsibilities as a mentor seriously. “Be open. Be honest. Be real,” she said. “I don’t care if you’ve been practicing 10 years like I have, or for 30 years, you need to be compassionate and willing to listen and be responsive to their questions. At one point you were in their shoes, and you need to remember how frightening it was to be in your first year practice.”

“When I say, ‘be honest and real,’ I mean, don’t posture; don’t act like your life is amazing; don’t act like you know everything; don’t act like things are perfect for you. Tell young attorneys when things go wrong. They don’t just become this amazing thing when you hit five or 10 years, but there are ways to embrace that and adapt so that you can be healthy responsible moving forward.”

Charleston School of Law also offers “Law Links,” a mentorship program for law students. The law school will host a meet-and-greet for students to learn more about the program on Thursday, August 31 at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of 385 Meeting Street. McIntosh said the mentorship program was not yet available when she was a law student at Charleston School of Law, but added, “our professors were amazing, and I remember their doors were always open and they were always willing to help.”

Community Service