Leslie Cotter

Contact Les



Office: 1900 Barnwell St. 

Columbia, SC 29201

Mailing Address: P.O. Drawer 7788 

Columbia, SC 29202

Contact Les’s Legal Assistant

Dina Smith



Practice Areas

  • Professional Malpractice Defense 
  • Legal Malpractice Defense 
  • Insurance Defense 
  • Mediation/Arbitration 
  • Products Liability Litigation
  • Civil Rights and Employment Litigation 
  • Governmental Liability Defense 
  • Personal Injury Defense 
  • School Law 
  • South Carolina Tort Claims Act Defense


  • Washington & Lee University (B.A., Economics, cum laude, 1980) 
  • University of South Carolina (J.D., 1984)

Bar Admissions

  • 1984, South Carolina; U.S. District Court of South Carolina
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit


Leslie A. Cotter, Jr.
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...

Leslie A. Cotter, Jr., is a shareholder of Richardson Plowden in the Columbia office. He focuses his practice on professional (legal, accounting, medical) malpractice defense, insurance defense litigation, mediation/arbitration, employment and civil rights litigation, products liability and personal injury defense, and governmental liability defense.

Mr. Cotter's experience includes:

  • Trying jury and non-jury cases in each division of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina and in state court proceedings throughout South Carolina. 
  • Representing the State of South Carolina as outside counsel in a national arbitration proceeding before a panel of three retired federal judges. 
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice, including serving as mediator and as arbitrator in state and federal court complex litigation matters. Mr. Cotter has been certified as a mediator by the S.C. Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina since 1999. He has been certified as an arbitrator by the S.C. Supreme Court since 2001. He mediates and arbitrates a variety of civil cases and disputes statewide.
  • Providing testimony before the South Carolina Legislature regarding the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

Before joining Richardson Plowden, Mr. Cotter was a judicial law clerk for South Carolina Circuit Judge Rodney A. Peeples and United States District Court Judge Clyde H. Hamilton, who was a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.


Scholarly Lectures and Speaking Engagements

  • Guest Lecturer, “Law Practice Workshop,” Class for Third-Year Law Students, University of South Carolina School of Law (2013-2022) 


Pro Bono/Community Involvement

  • Active member, St. John's Episcopal Church, served on the vestry (2007-2010) 
  • Board of Managers of South Carolina Historical Society
  • Past board member, Hammond School 
  • Past board member, Palmetto Baseball League
  • Active member of several conservation organizations, including the Congaree Land Trust, SC Coastal Conservation League, Gills Creek Watershed Association, and Coastal Conservation Association
  • Past coach, numerous children's AAU baseball and basketball teams 
  • Committee member, the Central Carolina Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation 
  • Past Committee Member, Midlands Branch of Quality Deer Management Association



  • Certified Circuit Court Mediator by the S.C. Supreme Court and U.S. District Court since 1999
  • Certified Arbitrator by the S.C. Supreme Court since 1999

Other Professional

  • American Bar Association, Malpractice Law Litigation Committee and ADR Committee 
  • South Carolina Bar, House of Delegates (1992-2024), Nominating Committee (1998-2000 and 2009-2010), Practice and Procedure Committee [1985-2022] (Committee Chair 2008-2010)], Professional Responsibility Committee (2010-2022) 
  • Permanent Member of Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys' Association
  • Professional Liability Defense Federation 
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI) 
  • John Belton O'Neall Inn of Court 
  • South Carolina Council of School Attorneys 
  • South Carolina Bar Foundation

Awards, Honors, Accolades

  • 2024-2010, Listed in Best Lawyers in America® for Legal Malpractice Law 
  • Rated AV Preeminent® for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability, Martindale-Hubbell American since 1995

  • 2023 - 2018, Selected as a South Carolina Super Lawyer for Civil Defense Litigation
  • 2013, Matthew J. Perry, Jr., Civility Award for the Richland County Bar Association for exemplary professional civility 

  • 2012, Selected as Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers® Columbia, SC, Legal Malpractice Law 

  • American Jurisprudence Award in Conflicts of Law