CHARLESTON – What do you get when you combine a former state Supreme Court justice and a former federal prosecutor?
In Charleston, you get Neely & Callaghan, a new law firm opened July 1 by Richard Neely and Mike Callaghan.
"We had known each other for years, of course," Callaghan said of his new partner. "He was working with Roger Hunter, who does business law. But he joined Spilman (Thomas and Battle). So, Richard and I decided to go into business together."
Callaghan said the firm primarily will practice in several areas, with a focus on federal criminal defense, environmental and regulatory law and civil litigation. Callaghan also served as the state Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Bob Wise, and he was chairman of the state Democratic Party.
"With my experience as a federal prosecutor and with environmental issues and Richard's broad base of experience, we think we've got something pretty good here," he said. "With both of our pasts, we know everybody."
Callaghan described the firm's approach to practicing law.
"We're not specializing in one certain field," he said. "We'll do plaintiff work, defense work. We're like an old-style firm. If someone needs help, we'll be there."
Callaghan did say the firm plans to maintain a small caseload and work with a high-end clientele on complex litigation.
"Clients need to be able to rely on a lead partner," he said. "We'll provide that. We're not going to be a volume firm. We'll be much more personal."
In the office at 159 Summers Street, Callaghan and Neely are the only attorneys, and they have two support staff members.
"Our doors have only been opened since July 1, but things are going really well," said Callaghan, who was with the Tinney Law Firm in Charleston before joining Neely. "Basically, we are two highly experienced and qualified lawyers.
"Richard's experiences in the legal field are very different than mine, and that broad experience helps us bring a level of expertise that is unique."
Callaghan had been as a potential candidate for state Attorney General or state Supreme Court justice in 2008. He lost as the Democratic candidate against Shelley Moore Capito for a House seat in 2004.
He said now simply isn't the time for another run.
"It's flattering to have people holding you in high enough regard to be considered as a potential candidate for those positions," he said. "Truth be told, my focus right now is just building my law practice. So, that's what I see in my future for the time being."
Neely, who also is a former House of Delegates member, was out of town on vacation, but said in a press release that he's excited about working with Callaghan.
"I look forward to this new phase of my life," he said. "Mike and I plan to organize our practice around a small number of difficult cases that clients believe justify the personal attention of senior, experienced lawyers from start to finish."
To learn more about the firm, visit www.neelycallaghan.com.