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'I Could Do This All Day'

After working construction, long legal days aren’t so tough for John Crawford

Published in 2022 South Carolina Super Lawyers magazine

“My parents were proponents of, ‘If you’re going to work in this industry, you can’t tell somebody what to do unless you’ve done it yourself,’” says John Crawford, managing member of Kenison, Dudley & Crawford. His parents’ industry was construction, which meant spending a lot of time outdoors and a lot of hard work. “I was on a job site working before I had my driver’s license.”

The family’s company built houses through a government program that supported home ownership for low-income families. Some of the houses are still around and have been passed down to the next generation, he says. “It was a great program, and it gave those folks that sense of pride of ownership.”

Even as a child, though, Crawford was drawn to the law. After graduating from The Citadel, he secured a full scholarship to law school, but he delayed attending for a few years to help the family business through a few challenges. In fact, it wasn’t until his parents had a contractual dispute with a homeowner that he even realized there was a subset of law for construction litigation.

“I could speak the language of the contractors,” Crawford says. “That’s given me some credibility with my clients. I can understand what it is they’re doing without them having to break it down into minutiae.”

His practice has grown over the years, and while the core is still construction, he’s moved into commercial real estate litigation and working with developers. His background helps, but he says it’s something anyone can learn along the way. His past experience does give him an appreciation of the work he does now, because while the law is demanding, it’s not the same as a job site.

“Having grown up doing manual labor, when partners at firms said, ‘Gosh, you don’t mind working hard,’ I was thinking, ‘I could do this all day,’” he says with a laugh. “I was used to doing back-breaking work.”

Crawford’s parents are now retired, but he’s thankful they instilled the value of hard work. “They always taught me that the more you give of yourself, the richer you’ll become. That’s a philosophy I live by.”

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