John T. Lay Jr.



John T. Lay Jr. is a partner in the firm’s Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina offices. With more than 25 years of experience managing complex, high-stakes litigation for clients, he has tried over 100 cases to verdict. He has also handled appeals at the SC Court of Appeals, the South Carolina Supreme Court, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. His primary law practices are business litigation, professional malpractice, insurance coverage and bad faith, financial services litigation and product liability. His most notable cases include:

  • Multimillion-dollar class action suits.
  • Death and catastrophic injury product claims including pharmaceutical products.
  • Allegations involving professional negligence of doctors and lawyers.
  • High-profile business disputes involving corporate and government interests.
  • Representation of lenders in multiparty financial fraud claims.
  • Insurance institutional bad faith litigation.

John T. has extensive experience managing product liability litigation throughout the country. He is National Coordinating Counsel for a boat manufacturer. He has litigated business cases throughout the Southeast, and has represented internet companies in business tort claims.

John T. has an interest in cultivating legal talent and has developed a broad background in teaching trial techniques. He has taught trial advocacy at the University of South Carolina School of Law and led the South Carolina Defense Trial Attorney Association (SCDTAA) for four years. In 2009, John T. was a faculty member for the International Association of Defense Counsel’s Trial Academy at Stanford University.

John T. has an exemplary reputation as a service oriented attorney. Throughout his career, he has acquired the level of understanding necessary to be conscientious of the needs of clients and to continuously exceed their expectations. John T. believes that responsiveness, attention to detail and character will always produce the highest level of client service.

“John T. Lay is described by market sources as a very skillful practitioner. He undertakes a variety of class action litigation as well as mass torts, catastrophic injury and professional negligence matters.” – Chambers and Partners


Davidson College

B.A. (1987)

University of South Carolina School of Law

J.D. (1991)

Bar Admissions

  • South Carolina Bar
  • United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Associations & Professional Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    • South Carolina Chapter, President (2015)
  • The American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable, Delegate
  • Association of Defense Trial Attorneys
  • Council on Litigation Management
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
    • Board of Directors (2015 – 2018)
    • Commercial Litigation Committee
    • Product Liability Committee
  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL)
  • International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC)
    • President (2016 – 2017)
    • President-Elect (2015 – 2016)
    • Board of Directors (2012 – 2015)
    • Chair of the Business Litigation Committee
    • Product Liability & Trial Tactics Committees
  • John B. O’Neill Inn of Court
  • Lawyers for Civil Justice
    • Board of Directors (2015 – 2018)
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
  • Richland County Bar
  • South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association (SCDTAA)
    • Past President

Honors & Awards

  • Benchmark Chambers International
    • Recommended Lawyer for Chinese Interests
  • Benchmark Litigation
    • Litigation Star (2015 – Present)
  • Best Lawyers In America (2008 – 2024)
    • Bet-the-Company Litigation
      • Lawyer of the Year (2024)
    • Commercial Litigation
    • Insurance Law
      • Lawyer of the Year (2017)
    • Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions: Defendants
      • Lawyer of the Year (2018) (2020)
    • Personal Injury Litigation: Defendants
      • Lawyer of the Year (2019)
    • Product Liability Litigation: Defendants
      • Lawyer of the Year (2022)
  • Chambers USA Ranking: General Commercial Litigation (2013 – 2023)
  • Columbia Business Monthly, Legal Elite
    • Insurance (2021)
    • Business Litigation (2020, 2022, 2023)
      • Top Vote Winner (2023)
    • Civil Litigation (2010, 2011, 2013, 2017)
    • Professional Liability (2022-2023)
      • Top Vote Winner (2023)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
    • Fred H. Sievert Award (2010)
    • Exceptional Performance Citation (2009)
  • South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Leadership in Law Award (2010; 2013)
  • South Carolina Super Lawyers, Business Litigation (2008 – 2024)
    • Top 10 Lawyers in South Carolina (2019)
    • Top 25 Lawyers in South Carolina (2014 – 2024)
  • Who’s Who, Legal: Life Sciences, Product Liability Defense (2016 – Present)

Community Involvement

  • Alzheimer’s Association, South Carolina Chapter, Board of Directors
  • Palmetto Richland Cancer Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Richland County Library, Board of Directors
  • South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors

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