Morris Ellison’s broad-based practice includes commercial real estate transactions, economic development, commercial litigation and counseling of entrepreneurs, startup and mature knowledge-based companies. With experience on both the business and litigation sides of transactions, Morris brings the perspective gained from having seen what goes wrong in transactions as well as insight into what the transaction was designed to achieve to avoid later conflict.
Morris represents local, national and international investors, lenders and real estate developers in the development, financing and disposition of commercial properties and other assets. Recently, he has been particularly involved with mobility companies, counseling clients on how the “Mobility Revolution” impacts their businesses.
In addition, Morris assists international companies that do (or wish to do) business in South Carolina, as well as South Carolina businesses engaging in international markets. He has a particular focus on the Israeli market, as he leads Womble Bond Dickinson’s Israel Team. Morris has been part of South Carolina’s trade mission delegation to Israel each year since 2011.
Morris has been awarded the CRE® (Counselor of Real Estate) credential by The Counselors of Real Estate®, an elite group of professionals who are recognized thought leaders of real estate. A prolific author on topics such as mobility, ecommerce, property tax issues and receiverships, Morris is a Fellow in both the American College of Real Estate Lawyers and the American College of Mortgage Attorneys. He is the South Carolina member of the American Property Tax Counsel, a member of The Association for Real Property and Infrastructure (ARPI), and a Panelist for the CPR Panels of Distinguished Neutrals, a select group of preeminent lawyers, former judges, public officials, and academics who serve as mediators and arbitrators.
- Co-Author, "Fair Property Taxes Are Essential to Manufacturers," REBusiness Online, September 20, 2023
- Author, "Mall Redevelopment Projects Have Unique Property Tax Implications," RE Business Online, January 18, 2023
- Author, "Reducing Property Taxes With Purchase Price Allocation Agreements," Commercial Property Executive, June 6, 2022
- Author, "Build-to-Rent Homes: Niche Product or the New Mainstream?," Bisnow, February 2022
- Author, "Understand the Impact of Intangibles," Seniors Housing Business, September 2021
- Author, “E-Commerce’s Impact on Small Business in the Age of COVID-19,” The Licensing Journal, April 2021
- Author, “Reduce High Occupancy Costs,” Heartland Real Estate Business and Southeast Real Estate Business, December 2020
- Author, “Expect Increased Property Taxes: Commercial property owners are a tempting scapegoat for cash-strapped governments in the wake of COVID-19,” Commercial Property Executive, July 3, 2020
- Author, “Opinion: Why SC needs robust 5G network to thrive after coronavirus pandemic,” Greenville News, May 24, 2020
- Author, “The World Has Changed: The Smart City in the Post-COVID-19 World,” Real Estate Issues, Volume 44, Number 6, May 6, 2020
- Author, “Commentary: Smart City technologies can help us recover from COVID-19,” The Post and Courier, April 28, 2020
- Author, “Commentary: ’Smart City’ technologies and 5G offer brighter future for Charleston,” The Post and Courier, December 21, 2019
- Author, “Smart Cities: Issues & Opportunities to Consider”, Real Estate Issues, Volume 43, Number 3, April 23, 2019
- Author, “Tax Trap: Don’t Overlook Occupancy in Property Assessments”, MultiFamily Executive, February 2019
- Author, Snakes In the Property Tax Woodpile, Real Estate Forum, February 2018
- Author, How Big Data, Mobility, Impact Property Values, REBUSINESS Online, October 2017
- Author, Sounding the Alarm on Code Compliance Costs, Real Estate Forum, October 2016
- Author, Smartphones, Showrooming Impact Costs, Southeast Real Estate Business, May 2016
- Author, Beware The Costs of Hidden Capital, Southeast Real Estate Business, December 2015
- Author, Custom-Built Carrots: Attracting Growth Firms Calls for Smart Incentives, Commercial Property Executive, July 2015
- Author, Reducing Hotel Property Taxes By Properly Valuing Intangible Assets, Hotel News Resource, January 16, 2015
- Author, Accounting For E-commerce In Retail Property Values, Shopping Center Business, June 2014
- Author, S.C. - Israeli partnership a winner for both sides, The State, January 22, 2014
- Author, Purchase Price Allocation in Real Estate Transactions: Does A + B + C Always Equal Value? The American College of Real Estate Lawyers, The ACREL Papers, Spring 2013
- Author, South Carolina Taxpayers play 'Dating Game, Southeast Real Estate Business, December 2013
- Author, Intangible Value of Real Estate Loans a Key Factor, Palmetto Bankers, Spring 2013
- Author, Building Value: How to Save Money by Allocating Prices in Real Estate Transactions, Commercial Property Executive, December 2012
- Co-Author, Smart Hotel Owners Turn Eroding Property Values Into Tax Advantages, National Real Estate Investor, September 2010
- Morris A. Ellison and William T. Dawson, South Carolina Property Tax Update, AMERICAN PROPERTY TAX COUNSEL NATIONAL PROPERTY TAX UPDATE, September 2009
- Author, Tis Better to Receive- The Use of a Receiver in Managing Distressed Real Estate, The American College of Real Estate Lawyers, The ACREL Papers, Fall 2009
- Author, Shell Games Tenants Play: Guaranties, Letters of Credit and Special Purpose Entities, The American College of Real Estate Lawyers, The ACREL Papers, Spring 2007
- E-commerce’s Impact on Small Business in the Age of COVID-19, Womble Bond Dickinson's Everything from Everywhere Virtual Summit, January 29, 2021
- Can You Finance Smart City Projects Through Data Analytics? How Can You Overcome the Legal Barriers?, Panel member, Smart Cities International Symposium & Exhibition, Chicago, IL, January 21-21, 2020
- Mobilizing the Future: Breakthrough Innovations and Top Trends in Transportation, and What They Mean for Consumers & Regulatory Agencies, DIG South Innovation Conference, Charleston, SC, April 2017
- Mobility Revolution: Connected Vehicles and SMART Cities, South Carolina Automotive Summit, Greenville, SC, February 2017
- South Carolina: Building a Transportation Innovation Center, South Carolina Israel Collaboration, 6th Annual Business & Research Delegation to Israel, January 2017
- What's Missing from the Picture: Technology's Increasing impact on Retail and Manufacturing, Womble Carlyle South Carolina Economic Development Summit, June 2014
- Discovering the Secret: Securing funding through grants, incentives and the recently signed South Carolina-Israel Collaboration Agreement and Innovations and Opportunities in Aerospace and Automotive, Moderator, Globes Conference, Tel Aviv, Israel, December 2013
- Understanding Valuations of Real Estate: Using Component Analysis To Split the Pie, The American Law Institute, Webcast, September 2013
- Tools for the Real Estate Investor in the U.S., Israel-American Chamber of Commerce, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 2013
- EB-5 Financing, South Carolina Economic Development Seminar, Columbia, SC, April 2013
- Valuation Issues for Self Storage Professionals; and you thought getting financing used to be taxing, Florida Self Storage Association, Orlando, FL, March 2013
- Purchase Price Allocation in Real Estate Transactions: Does A + B + C Always Equal Value?, American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), Naples, FL, March 2013
- Distinguishing Real Property Value, Personal Property Value and Intangible Value, South Carolina Bankers Association, Columbia, SC, October 2012
- When is it Better to Receive than to Give? The Use of Receiverships for Distressed Hotel and Common Interest Development Projects, ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Spring Symposia, New York, New York, May 2012
- Improving the Bottom Line: Tax Reassessment Appeals for Hotels©, Hospitality Law Conference, Houston, Texas, February 2010
- Co-Presenter, 'Tis Better to Receive- The Use of a Receiver in Managing Distressed Real Estate, Continuing Professional Education Proceedings of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), Washington, DC, October 2009
- South Carolina Update, American Property Tax Counsel Seminar, November 2008
- Shell Games Tenants Play: Guaranties, Letters of Credit and Special Purpose Entities, American College of Real Estate Lawyers San Diego, California, March 2007
- Dockominium Development, STAR (Stewart Title Attorney Referral) Network Conference, Houston, Texas, November 2007
- Dockominium Development and Structuring, Hospitality Law Conference, Houston, Texas, February 2007
Professional & Civic Engagement
- The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), Member, 2020 - present
- American College of Real Estate Lawyers, Fellow
- American College of Mortgage Attorneys, Fellow
- Association for Real Property and Infrastructure, Member
- American Property Tax Counsel, South Carolina Member
- CPR: International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, Panel Member
- Carolina Alliance 4 Innovation, Advisory Board member, 2020 - present
- Connexx (formerly, American-Israel Chamber of Commerce), Executive Committee, 2013 - 2020
- American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2013 - 2020
- South Carolina Israel Collaboration: Member, Steering committee, 2012 - 2019
- Knowledge Sector Council for the State of South Carolina: Member, 2012 - 2017
- American Bar Association:
- Hotels, Resorts and Tourism Committee, Chair and Co-Chair 2003 - 2007
- Hospitality Industry Liaison Committee, Member
- Real Estate Council of the South Carolina Bar, Chair 1994 - 1995
- South Carolina Bar Ad Hoc Committee on Attorney Defalcations, Member 1994 - 1995
- South Carolina Law Institute: Member, Advisory Committees for Articles 2A and 8 of the Uniform Commercial Code
- Charleston Lawyers Club: President, 1991 - 1992
- Leadership South Carolina, Class of 1988
- Certified Circuit Court Mediator
- Former Arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association
- City of Charleston West Ashley Revitalization Commission, Member, 2016 - 2018
- National Bank of South Carolina: Member, Local Advisory Board, 1991 - present
- Brith Sholom Beth Israel Congregation Endowment Fund: President, 2008 - 2013
- Roper Foundation: Board of Directors, 1990 - 2004, Chairman of Development Committee, 1994 - 2004
- Crisis Ministries: Board of Directors, 1985 - 2001
- Trident Urban League: Board of Directors, 1994 - 2000, Chairman of Membership Committee, 1996 - 2000
- Charleston Jewish Federation: Board of Directors 1994 - 1999, Winner of the Young Leadership Award, 1995
Honors & Awards
- Chambers USA Ranked Lawyer, Litigation: General Commercial, South Carolina, 2011 – Present
- Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America (BL Rankings) in the fields of Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Construction, Construction Law, 2004 – Present
- Recognized in South Carolina Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) (2008-2023)
- Recognized in Charleston Business Magazine's Legal Elite, Business Litigation, Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Foreclosure, 2017, 2021, 2023
- Received the Best Lawyers™ Construction Law and Litigation "Lawyer of the Year" award in Charleston, South Carolina, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
- Represented developers in various mixed-use projects including regarding financing, zoning and development work.
- Represented knowledge-based companies looking to locate in the United States, including structuring affiliates and negotiating incentive packages.
- Represented property owners of office, retail and other numerous commercial in tax appeals involving some of the largest properties in South Carolina.
- Represented corporate real estate owners and users in managing, acquiring and selling real estate, hotels and other assets.
- Represented entrepreneurs in structuring knowledge-based companies.
- Represented lenders in complex foreclosures and workouts.
- Counseled American manufacturers and knowledge-based companies looking to do business overseas.