Leighton is President & Chief Strategy Officer at Maynard Nexsen. An accomplished corporate and real estate attorney, Leighton's legal practice has a special emphasis on siting economic development projects, real estate transactions, real estate financing, general business law, and formation and opinions on Delaware entities.

Prior to joining the firm, Leighton clerked for the prestigious Delaware Chancery Court before practicing corporate litigation in Wilmington, Delaware. He served for three years as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He formally served on South Carolina's Coordinating Council for Economic Development and is the former Chairman of Santee Cooper, South Carolina's electric and water utility.

Community & Professional

  • Delaware Bar
  • South Carolina Bar
  • Columbia Museum of Art, Board of Directors
  • Midlands Business Leadership Group - Member
  • Liberty Fellow
  • Riley Institute Diversity Fellow
  • Aspen Global Leadership Network
  • Santee Cooper – Former Chairman
  • Palmetto Economic Development Corporation – Former Chairman
  • Heathwood Hall Episcopal School – Past Board Chairman, current Foundation Board Chairman

Outside Maynard Nexsen

"Being a part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network has allowed me to connect with and learn from leaders from all over the world.  

The most fun I have is doing anything with my children that they can talk me into doing or I can talk them into doing.  On our last vacation, this included mountain biking, rock climbing and “tubing” down a white water creek!"


  • Led legal and communications team that sited an appliance manufacturing facility
  • Led legal team that sited a bottled water production facility for an international producer
  • Led siting and financing of particle board manufacturing facility
  • Led negotiations for a commercial aircraft manufacturing facility located in South Carolina. 
  • Successfully re-zoned over 4,000 acres for a commercial gold mine. 
  • Negotiated the Development Agreement for the largest redevelopment project in Columbia’s history.


  • Columbia Business Magazine's "Legal Elite of the Midlands," 2016, 2019, 2023
  • Columbia Business Monthly's "50 Most Influential," 2022
  • Recognized by Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, South Carolina, Real Estate (2019 - Present)
  • Martindale-Hubbell Peer-Review Rated AV Preeminent
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America for Real Estate Law, Since 2009


Stakeholder Engagement In Environmentally Sensitive Economic Development Projects (co-author) South Carolina Law Review, Vol. 66, Spring 2015

A Case for Coordinating Economic Development Planning and Energy Planning (co-author) South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business, Vol. 7, Spring 2011

Panelist at Summer “Law of Solar Energy in South Carolina” seminar.



  • State Bar: South Carolina, Delaware
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Go to where the puck will be. - Wayne Gretzky

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