Upon graduating law school in 1965, Tom McKinney’s first job as an attorney was working in the Trust Department of C&S Bank. Shortly after starting there, Tom realized that his desire was to be a trial attorney, rather than one that worked in a bank office. A few weeks into his legal career, Tom was invited to join the firm of Ridley, Simrill and Bryan in Rock Hill. After Bryan left, Tom advanced to become a minor partner in that firm. Since that move, he has served York County as a partner in a law firm, focusing his practice on criminal defense and civil defense representing insurance companies.
Tom started his own firm of McKinney and Harrelson in the 70’s. The firm was based in a small office on Black Street in downtown Rock Hill. While there, Tom met Tom Givens, a lawyer with whom he would share a lifetime friendship. The two Tom’s ultimately decided to go into practice together, and purchased a historic house on Saluda Street in 1979 to house their growing practice. Tom Givens gained fame as chief counsel for PTL during its time in York County, while Tom McKinney developed a reputation as one of York County’s most capable trial attorneys in criminal and civil cases.
Over the decades, many fine attorneys occupied the offices at 303 Saluda Street, the historic house purchased over 30 years ago. Tom McKinney and Tom Givens both still practice at that location, albeit as joint owners rather than law partners. A small house next door was purchased in 1984 and attached via renovation in 1987. Terry Millar, another former firm member, still occupies the attached house, and similar to Tom Givens, remains as a co-owner of the property .
In the early nineties, Jim Tucker was hired as an associate in family and civil law. Shortly thereafter, John Rhea was hired from the Greenville Solicitor’s Office to assist with the expanding criminal practice the firm enjoyed. For many years, the building proudly displayed McKinney, Givens, Tucker and Rhea as its occupants. For two decades, residents of York County were served by the firm in a broad range of legal areas, from real estate to family law, criminal defense to civil law.
In 2010, John Rhea retired from the practice of law to fulfill a lifelong ambition to be a writer. Gary Lemel, himself a criminal attorney in York County since 1996, became the latest attorney to occupy an office at 303 Saluda when he was invited to fill the gap created by John Rhea’s departure. Today the firm bears the name McKinney, Tucker and Lemel.
303 Saluda remains a destination that many York County residents seek out when faced with legal issues. McKinney, Tucker and Lemel occupy the first floor, while Tom Givens practices out of the second. Terry Millar’s office remains in the attached house. Under Tom McKinney’s guiding hand, his firm is one of the oldest and most active in York County.