William 'Billy' Wilkins, Former Chief Judge, Joins Nexsen Pruet

October 7, 2008

Noted national judicial figure to head 3 practice groups, including White-Collar Crime

GREENVILLE, SC – October 6, 2008 – William W. Billy Wilkins, Ronald Reagan’s first selection to the federal bench in the nation and the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, has joined Nexsen Pruet as a Partner. He will lead the firm’s White-Collar Crime, Appellate Advocacy, and Corporate Compliance/Crisis Management practice groups and actively participate in the firm’s Business Litigation Group. Judge Wilkins will be based in the firm’s Greenville, S.C., office.src=img/attdd519.jpg





In a 40-year career of service beginning as a law clerk for a federal judge, Judge Wilkins went on to become one of the nation’s most respected jurists. Besides serving on the federal district and appeals court benches, he also served as the first Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission where he had a significant impact on the nation’s federal criminal justice system.

We are honored that Judge Wilkins has chosen to serve the clients of Nexsen Pruet, said Leighton Lord, Chairman of the Board of the Carolina-based law firm. He brings a depth of skill and legal knowledge that — in large part because of his federal experience — is unique to law firms in this region. There is no question that he will help us take our scope of services to the next level.

I was looking for the opportunity to put my experience to work for a firm with a strong business practice, a commitment to expanding the practice areas in which I am interested, and one with an exceptional team of attorneys, Judge Wilkins said. Nexsen Pruet has all of that and more. I plan to be deeply involved with the clients who can benefit from my background and look forward to making a direct, hands-on contribution to the businesses and individuals we represent.

Judge Wilkins first gained national recognition in 1981 when President Reagan appointed him to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, the President’s first selection to the federal bench.

Four years later, Reagan named him Chair of the newly created United States Sentencing Commission, a position Judge Wilkins held until 1994. As head of the commission, he was responsible for establishing sentencing guidelines, policies, and practices for the nation’s federal criminal justice system.

In 1986, Judge Wilkins was appointed United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. In 1999, he was named Chair of the Committee on Criminal Law for the federal judiciary by then-Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist. In 2003, Judge Wilkins was elevated to the position of Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and served in that capacity until taking senior status in July 2007. He was recently honored by the American Bar Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

His public service has not been limited to the federal judiciary, however.

In the 1970s and into the 1980s Judge Wilkins served as the chief prosecuting attorney for a large judicial circuit in South Carolina. He organized one of the nation’s first joint state-federal task forces and successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile cases. Judge Wilkins also organized the state’s first Victim-Witness Assistance Program, which was later recognized as one of the nation’s best by the National Organization for Victims Assistance and the National Institute of Justice. He also created the first Child Abuse Prosecution Unit and the first Pretrial Diversion Program in the Palmetto State.

In addition to his distinguished legal career, Judge Wilkins served 27 years in the U.S. Army (active and reserves) and in the South Carolina National Guard. He has received numerous decorations and awards, including the prestigious Legion of Merit for meritorious service.

Judge Wilkins earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Davidson College and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He also holds many honorary degrees and doctorates.

As leader of Nexsen Pruet’s White-Collar Crime Group, Judge Wilkins will head a team that focuses on the defense of individuals and organizations accused of criminal misconduct. The Appellate Advocacy Group he heads concentrates its practice on defending or seeking reversal of lower court decisions. The third practice he will supervise, Corporate Compliance/Crisis Management, works with clients to develop programs to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and to shape strategies aimed at protecting corporate reputations in the event of a crisis.

About Nexsen Pruet

Nexsen Pruet, LLC is one of the largest law firms in the Carolinas, with more than 170 attorneys and offices in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C. Founded in 1945, Nexsen Pruet provides a broad range of legal services to the business community and represents companies from other entities in local, state, national and international venues.He will lead the firm’s White-Collar Crime, Appellate Advocacy, and Corporate Compliance/Crisis Management practice groups and actively participate in the firm’s Business Litigation Group. Judge Wilkins will be based in the firm’s Greenville, S.C., office.