When David Paavola – a partner with Lewis Babcock L.L.P. law firm – was a student at Baylor University two decades ago, he and his wife spent weekends volunteering with Habitat for Humanity building needed homes in the Waco, Texas, area.
Now, he is president of the board of Central South Carolina Habitat, right here in Columbia.
He found the work of helping families build better lives by building their own homes very rewarding in his youth, so when he went looking as an experienced attorney to get more involved in his community, Habitat was a perfect fit. He joined the board in 2019 as an advisory member and was elected to the board in 2020.
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in Georgia in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. The Central SC chapter was founded in 1985, and since then has provided more than 250 homes in partnership with individuals and organizations across Richland and Lexington Counties. Learn more about it here: https://www.habitatcsc.org/
Paavola appreciates the basic concept of Habitat, especially the fact that it gives families “A helping hand up.” Contrary to what many people wrongly believe, Habitat doesn’t give away homes, it gives an opportunity for affordable homeownership to those who have completed hundreds of hours of sweat equity and months of preparation. The organization is proud of providing more than just housing.
Habitat homeowners receive financial education, and learn about building and maintaining their own homes, all while paying an affordable mortgage. Before they move into their new homes, the families put in a lot of “sweat equity,” helping others build their homes before they help build their own. As the local chapter’s website says:
Habitat believes that a decent place to live, and an affordable mortgage, creates a situation where homeowners can save more, invest in education, pursue opportunity, and have more financial stability. With our help, homeowners achieve the strength, stability, and independence they need to build a better future for themselves and for their families.
The local Habitat has extended the concept beyond individual, new houses. It has focused in recent years on neighborhood revitalization. After building a new house or two where it has the opportunity, the organization then turns to revamping surrounding, existing homes, thereby helping to improve the whole area.
That way, notes Paavola, more than one family benefits. The whole community becomes stronger.
Three attorneys at Lewis Babcock L.L.P. are honored in the just-released 2023 edition of “Best Lawyers in America” and its companion piece, “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.”
The list includes firm co-founder Keith Babcock, who has been included in the national directory every year for the past 15. This year, attorneys David Paavola and Joe Berry also are honored as “Ones to Watch”.
All three are recognized for their work in multiple practice areas in the Columbia area.
The attorneys and their honors:
The firm has a strong reputation for their work in eminent domain law. Keith Babcock is the sole South Carolina attorney who’s a full member of the “Owners’ Counsel of America.” The group consists of attorneys who represent property owners in eminent domain and condemnation cases. Berry and Paavola recently were invited to join the group as affiliate members.
The goal of “Best Lawyers” is to capture the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the abilities of their colleagues within the same geographic regions and same practice areas. The selection process begins with a nomination from a colleague and then peer review from attorneys previously recognized in “Best Lawyers.” Independent research also is conducted.
“Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” recognizes attorneys who have practiced less than 10 years. Otherwise, the selection criteria are the same.
Columbia Business Monthly has recognized two partners at the law firm Lewis Babcock L.L.P. to the magazine’s “Legal Elite of the Midlands” list for 2022.
Lewis Babcock founding partner Keith Babcock is listed for the fifth year in the annual guide. He is being honored for his work in two practice areas – business litigation and eminent domain.
This year, David Paavola is also being recognized, in the areas of eminent domain and professional liability.
Keith Babcock is a highly skilled attorney with more than 40 years’ experience. He focuses his practice on litigation, concentrating on business disputes, professional negligence, and eminent domain. He has conducted Continuing Legal Education seminars on eminent domain across the state and the country. He is the only South Carolina attorney listed in “Owners’ Counsel of America,” a national eminent domain organization.
David Paavola became a partner in the practice in 2021, and recently joined Keith Babcock as an affiliate member of the Owners’ Counsel. Before becoming an attorney, Paavola was a banking and finance professional. His current practice draws on that background, as he represents individuals and businesses in eminent domain cases, complex business disputes, and in professional malpractice issues.
Columbia Business Monthly has been publishing the Legal Elite list since 2010. The selection process includes nomination and voting by fellow attorneys throughout the Midlands. Those chosen for the list represent the top 10 attorneys in each of the Legal Elite’s 20 practice areas.