William R. Johnson

Shareholder  |  Columbia

Meet Will

Will Johnson leads Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd's Economic Development practice group and concentrates his practice on economic development, corporate law and tax matters. His work has helped facilitate over $5 billion in domestic and foreign investment in South Carolina.

Will's work in the economic development area includes negotiating and drafting fee in lieu of tax agreements, structuring special source revenue credit arrangements and assisting companies with a host of other incentives such as job development credits, job tax credits, state and local economic development grants, and the South Carolina Textile Communities Revitalization and Abandoned Buildings Acts.

His work in the corporate area includes a wide variety of general corporate matters such as contract review, mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, shareholder and governance issues, preferential transfer cases in bankruptcy and franchise law.

Will's work in the tax field encompasses state and local tax planning on property, income and sales tax matters, property tax appeals, conservation easements, estate and gift tax optimization and federal and international tax planning for multinational corporations.

A Lake City, South Carolina native, Will is an enthusiastic advocate for the Special Olympics, creating a partnership between the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division and Special Olympics South Carolina in 2010. He serves on the Special Olympics South Carolina board of directors and has spoken publicly on the “End the R Word,” Project Unify and Law Enforcement Torch Run campaigns.

  • New York University, LL.M., 2006
  • University of South Carolina, J.D., magna cum laude, 2005
  • Wofford College, B.A., summa cum laude, 2002
  • South Carolina, 2005
Honors and Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America© Economic Development Law (2019-2020) and Tax Law (2013-2020)
  • Best Lawyers® 2019 Economic Development Law “Lawyer of the Year” Columbia
  • Columbia Business Monthly "Legal Elite of the Midlands Top Attorney Vote" Corporate Mergers & Acquistions Law (2018-2019)
  • Columbia Business Monthly "Legal Elite of the Midlands" Corporate Mergers & Acquistions Law (2018-2019), Government Law (2018-2019) and Tax & Estate Planning (2019) 
  • American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division "Top 40 Young Lawyers" and “Star of the Year” (2016), “Star of the Quarter" (2012) 
  • The State “20 Under 40” 2015
  • South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division "Presidential Service Award" (2012, 2015)
  • University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Council “Compleat Lawyer” 2014
  • Columbia Chamber “Young Professional of the Year” 2014
  • South Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leadership in Law Award 2014
  • South Carolina Bar “Young Lawyer of the Year” 2010
  • Recipient of the Harry J. Rudick Memorial Award, the highest academic honor given to a student in the tax program at NYU
  • South Carolina Law Review, Associate Editor-in-Chief
  • Order of the Wig and Robe, Chief Justice
  • Order of the Coif
  • Recipient of the Dean’s Medallion for graduating first in his law school class
  • Wofford College, Student Body Treasurer and Letterman on men's tennis team
Professional and Civic Activities
  • Florence County Economic Development Partnership, Board Member (2014-Present)
  • Darlington County Progress, Board Member (2016-Present)
  • The Original Six Foundation, Board of Trustees (2019-Present)
  • Special Olympics South Carolina, Board of Directors (2010-2015, 2016-Present)
  • Leadership Columbia Alumni Association, Advisory Board (2011-Present), Chairman (2013-2014)
  • Committee of 100, a partnership of the Central SC Alliance
  • South Carolina Economic Developers' Association
  • Columbia Economics Club
  • Columbia Tax Study Group
  • International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA), Tax Commission and Mergers & Acquisitions Commission Member
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow (2016-Present)
  • American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Chair of Long-Range Planning Board (2018-present), Fellows of the Young Lawyers Division (2016-Present), Leadership Advisory Board (2016-2017), Co-Director of Committees and Liaisons (2015-2016), Senior Cabinet (2015-2016), Co-Chair of Tax Law Committee (2014-2015), South Carolina Delegate to the National Assembly (2010-2015)
  • South Carolina Bar, Board of Governors (2013-2015), House of Delegates (2013-2015)
  • South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division, President (2013-2014), Chair of Special Olympics Committee (2010-2013)
  • Richland County Bar Association
  • South Carolina Economic Development Institute, Class of 2016
  • Leadership South Carolina, Class of 2011
  • Leadership Columbia, Class of 2008
Presentations and Publications
  • “Navigating the Landscape of Opportunity Zones,” Columbia Tax Study Group, Columbia, SC, August 28, 2019
  • "Opportunity Zones for Lenders,” HSB Law Firm, Columbia, SC, August 27, 2019
  • "Opportunity Awaits: Understanding the Tremendous Tax Benefits from Investing in South Carolina's 135 Opportunity Zones," South Carolina Bankers Association Annual Convention, Kiawah Island, SC, June 11, 2019
  • “What You Need to Know About Opportunity Zones,” Geneva Group International Southeastern States Webinar, May 7, 2019
  • "Upstate Opportunity Zone Discussion” (Panelist), Urban Land Institute South Carolina, Greenville, SC, May 6, 2019
  • “Understanding Economic Development in South Carolina," Leadership South Carolina, Myrtle Beach, SC, February 21, 2019
  • HSB Opportunity Zone Presentation, Greenville, SC, November 9, 2018 and Columbia, SC, November 13, 2018
  • “The Nuts and Bolts of South Carolina’s Key Economic Development Incentives,” South Carolina Economic Development Institute, Seneca, SC, August 6, 2018
  • "Shaping the Future of South Carolina: Economic Development in the Palmetto State," South Carolina Bankers Association Young Bankers Division Conference, March 2, 2018
  • "New Reporting Requirements for Local Governments Under GASB 77," 2018 Academy for County Auditors, Treasurers and Tax Collectors, February 8, 2018
  • "Property Tax and Business Recruitment in Richland and Lexington Counties," Leadership Columbia Economic Development Day, Columbia, SC, January 9, 2018
  • "GASB 77 Compliance from the Local Government Perspective," NESA Local Developers Meeting, Florence, SC, November 9, 2017
  • "Economic Development as a Practice Area" (Panelist), SC Bar Young Lawyers Division, Federal Courthouse Luncheon Series, Columbia, SC, October 3, 2017
  • “The Nuts and Bolts of South Carolina’s Key Economic Development Incentives,” South Carolina Economic Development Institute, Florence, SC, August 10, 2017
  • "Economic Development Incentives Update" (Panelist), 2017 Government Law Update, South Carolina Bar, Columbia, SC, June 16, 2017
  • "Ten Frequently Overlooked Issues with FILOT Agreements in South Carolina," South Carolina Economic Developers' Association Membership Meeting, February 16, 2017
  • "Property Tax and the Impact on Job Creation," Leadership Columbia Economic Development Day, Columbia, SC, January 10, 2017
  • "Tax Incentive Issues for Local Government Leaders" (Panelist), Northeastern Strategic Alliance Economic Developers Retreat, December 9, 2016
  • "South Carolina's Notoriously High Property Taxes and What You and Your Clients Can Do to Reduce Them," HSB 2016 Corporate Law for Accountants Seminars
  • "Cross-Border Management of Wealthy Investors" (US Panelist), AIJA International Tax Conference, Reykjavik, Iceland, March 11, 2016
  • "Opportunities and Obstacles for Business in the Midlands" (Panelist), Leadership Columbia Economic Development Day, Columbia, SC, January 12, 2016
  • "New Reporting Requirements for Local Governments Under GASB 77," HSB 2016 GASB Lunch and Learns
  • “Income Tax for Professional Athletes – A Cross Border Story" (US Panelist), AIJA Annual Congress, London, United Kingdom, September 2, 2015
  • "Tax Considerations in Choice of Entity Decisions," American Bar Association Webinar, May 19, 2015
  • "Venture Capital and Creating Ecosystems for Manufacturing Start-Ups" (Panelist), South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo, Greenville, SC, April 14, 2015
  • "How Governments Protect Tax Revenues by Closing Down Tax Structuring Opportunities and Combating Tax Evasion" (US Panelist), AIJA International Tax Conference, Italy, March 6, 2015
  • "Key Tax Credits and Incentives for Economic Development," South Carolina Bar Convention, Columbia, SC, January 23, 2015
  • "Recruiting Tools for Transforming the Business Landscape in the Midlands," Leadership Columbia Economic Development Day, Columbia, SC, January 13, 2015

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