The law firm bearing the name of prominent Charleston attorney David Aylor is shuttering after his sudden death earlier this year.
The 41-year-old was found dead the afternoon of Jan. 2 in his home on Lowndes Pointe Drive in Charleston. What caused his untimely death is still unknown.
Charleston police and the county coroner’s office are still investigating. A coroner’s report and toxicology results are expected within the next three weeks.
The coroner’s office last confirmed to The Post and Courier on Feb. 6 that the case is still pending. Subsequent questions about the results as recently as Feb. 22 have not drawn a response.
The announcement of the law firm’s closure came as a surprise to clients spread across six offices from the Lowcountry, Grand Strand and Upstate. In the Charleston County court system alone, Aylor is listed as the attorney on more than 80 pending criminal and civil cases.
Earlier this month, clients received an email from the firm alerting them of “the unfortunate decision has been made to wind down the law office.”
“Because David Aylor was the heart, soul and engine of the David Aylor Law Offices, and he is no longer with us,” the email obtained by The Post and Courier stated.
The sentiment is at odds with a statement from the firm shortly after his death. At that time the firm’s managing attorney Lindsay Johnson wrote in a statement that Aylor “left the firm with a strong succession plan and a talented team who will continue providing top notch representation and service to the firm’s clients.”
The statement is still available on the firm’s website, though Johnson’s name has been removed.
Court documents filed as part of Aylor’s estate directly contradict the statement. An email from the South Carolina Bar’s practice management assistance program confirmed that Aylor had no successor on record. In his will, Aylor named his brother, Andrew, who lives in California, as trustee of his estate, which he passes to his only child, an 18-year-old son.
Andrew Aylor, who is not an attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, appointed Lindsey W. Cooper Jr. to help dissolve his brother’s law practice.
Cooper, when reached by phone Feb. 21, declined to answer any questions saying the matter is “sensitive.”
A sign advertising office space to passersby on Interstate 26 stands in front of a three-story office building emblazoned with Aylor’s name and anchor logo. Located at 4917 Centre Pointe Drive in North Charleston, the building serves as the law office’s main hub. A listing on Caldwell Commercial Real Estate Services’ website was last modified Jan. 5, three days after Aylor’s death.
An electronic document attached to the email sent to clients asks them to either come to the building in North Charleston to get a copy of their case file, have it sent to them or have a new attorney contact the office to get it. The letter, signed by Cooper, makes no mention of any fees the clients may have paid the firm.
According to the rules of professional conduct for attorneys in South Carolina, a lawyer is obliged to return any unearned portion of fees paid in advance of services.
One client has filed a creditors’ claim against Aylor’s estate in probate court for $4,000 in “unearned lawyer’s fees,” according to court documents.
Another client told The Post and Courier he had paid $3,000 to retain Aylor for a case in September that is still pending.
It remains unclear how many of the 22-person firm remain employed. James Johnson, the practice’s former spokesman, said he was let go last month.
Repeated messages left with the office’s answering service went answered.
Reach Ali Rockett at 843-901-1708. Follow her on Twitter @AliRockettPC.