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County commissioner opens new law practice

Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy is going into the new year fulfilling a dream.

"It's been a lifelong dream of mine to have my own law firm," Hardy said. "After 24 years of private practice, that dream became a reality on Dec. 1."

Hardy and Chris Pence have opened HardyPence PLLC in Suite 701, Laidley Tower.

"We just got settled in, just got up and running for business," Hardy said on Wednesday.

"We're a civil litigation energy-focused law firm," he said. "That means we're a boutique firm that serves the energy industry, mainly coal, but the aggregate industry as well.

"Chris Pence and I are the partners in the new firm," Hardy said. "We've practiced together almost five years."

Hardy grew up in Pratt. He is a 1980 graduate of West Virginia University Institute of Technology and a 1983 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He is a certified public accountant.

The 54-year-old Democrat has been a Kanawha County commissioner since 2001. Hardy narrowly defeated challenger Andy Richardson in the May 2010 primary by 410 votes in what was the closest race on Kanawha County's ballot. Hardy went on to win another six-year term, defeating Republican challenger John Hoover in the November 2010 general election, 33,188 votes to 22,197.

Pence, 35, is a Charleston native. He earned a bachelor's degree from Marshall University in 1999 and received his law degree from West Virginia University in 2002.

Pence said, "Owning a firm with Dave Hardy is an exciting opportunity for me professionally and personally. Over the last several years, we have worked together on a number of significant cases affecting the energy industry. We have assembled a group of professionals to build on our past successes and develop a solid foundation for future growth.

"Our vision is to build a regional presence in the energy industry, continue to aggressively represent our clients, and enjoy what we do."

Hardy and Pence had been with the firm of Allen, Guthrie, McHugh & Thomas. "That firm changed names in May when David Thomas left," Hardy said. "It became Betts Hardy and Rodgers. That firm went into liquidation and ceased to practice law on Nov. 30."

Joining Hardy and Pence are Scott Wickline and Eric Silkwood.

Wickline earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from West Virginia State University in 1986 and a law degree from WVU in 1992. Silkwood earned a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University in 2002 and a law degree from WVU's College of Law in 2006.

"Jim McHugh, who was the prosecutor of Jackson County, is joining us on Jan. 1," Hardy said. "He also will be an associate practicing in the firm. We have plans to add another attorney in the first quarter of 2013. Our ultimate goal is to have 10 to 12 lawyers, no more."

In addition to the lawyers, the firm employs two paralegals and several administrative assistants.

Hardy said the firm will have a website in early 2013 at www.hardypence.com

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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