Melinda Lucka KelleyMelinda Kelly

North Charleston, South Carolina

Of Counsel, since 2010





Melinda Lucka Kelley has been a member of the South Carolina Bar since 1992. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Ms. Kelley has lived in South Carolina since 1974. After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1979, Ms. Kelley worked in the field of municipal and county planning, in the public and private sectors, until going to Law School in 1987 (Cumberland School of Law and the University of South Carolina School of Law). While in Law School, Ms. Kelley worked as an expert witness in planning and zoning cases in state and federal courts, and served as a judicial intern with Alabama State Supreme Court Justice Richard "Red" Jones. Upon completion of law school, she began practicing law in Charleston, primarily in the administrative areas of land use and environmental law and real property law, and also in the area of complex personal injury insurance claims.

Ms. Kelley represents individual and business owners, homeowners’ associations, and local government entities in administrative hearings and appeals brought before local Commissions, Boards, and Councils, and cases in the Administrative Law Courts, Circuit Courts, and the Appellate Courts in South Carolina. She has served as municipal attorney for the Town of Lincolnville, S.C. since 2003, was past planning director and attorney for the Town James Island, (1993-1996), and was a prosecuting attorney for criminal cases for the City of Charleston (1997-2016).

Ms. Kelley is a member of the adjunct faculty at the College of Charleston, having taught Land Use Law and Water Use Law in the Political Science/Urban Studies department since 1994. She has been a course instructor for the South Carolina Bar, Lorman Educational Services, and the National Business Institute. Ms. Lucka has written local government Zoning Ordinances, and has contributed to the drafting and preparation of Comprehensive Plans. She is an approved instructor, pursuant to S.C. Code 6-29-1310 et seq., through the S.C. State Advisory Committee on Educational Requirements for Local Government Planning and Zoning Officials and Employees and the Municipal Association of South Carolina for the training of local government planning and zoning officials and employees in South Carolina. Prior to joining Finkel Law Firm LLC in 2010, Ms. Kelley practiced law with C.C. "Cotton" Harness, III from 2006-2010 and was "of counsel" in the Charleston office of Austin & Rogers, P.A. Ms. Kelley was in private practice in Charleston from 1992-2006.

Areas of Practice:

  • Land Use Law
  • Local Government Law
  • Zoning variances, rezoning requests, and appeals of zoning decisions
  • Pre-litigation mediation for zoning board appeals
  • Planned development representation
  • Land subdivision and development issues
  • Easement and right-of-way disputes
  • Homeowner Association disputes
  • Coastal and wetlands issues
  • Preservation and environmental protection of land
  • Boundary disputes
  • Construction litigation
  • Inverse condemnations/takings
  • Complex personal injury claims
  • Wills, estates, and probate
  • Qualified as Expert Witness in Planning, Zoning and Land Use Law
  • Canon and Ecclesiastical law

Bar Admissions:

  • South Carolina, 1992


  • JD: Cumberland School of Law/University of South Carolina 1990
  • BA: University of South Carolina 1979 Urban Studies/Geography and Comparative Religion/Philosophy

Classes/Seminars Taught:

  • Land Use Law, Water Use Law. College of Charleston Adjunct Faculty/Urban Studies, 1994 - Present
  • Land Use Law Update, S.C. Municipal Attorneys CLE, 1996
  • Health care issues in South Carolina, S.C. Patient Advocates Association, 2002
  • Planning and Zoning Law Update and Advanced Planning and Zoning, Lorman Educational Services, 2001 – 2007
  • Issues in SC Planning and Zoning NBI 2011
  • Cases and Statutory Updates in Planning and Zoning SC Bar 2012

Professional Associations and Memberships:

  • South Carolina Bar
  • Charleston County Bar Association
  • South Carolina Municipal Attorneys Association
  • Past member, South Carolina-American Planning Association (SCAPA)
  • Past member, American Planning Association-Land Use Law division
  • South Carolina Bar Continuing Legal Education Seminar Committee
  • Ecclesiastical Law Society
  • Past Chair of the Harmony Project Board of Directors, a non-profit organization emphasizing neighborhood revitalization and sustainability.
  • Charleston Promise Neighborhood Working Group Committee (2010)

Ancillary Website:

Serving the people and businesses of South Carolina for over fifty years.