With more than 20 years of experience, trial lawyer Nikole Setzler Mergo represents some of the world’s largest manufacturers, health care providers, life sciences companies, and financial institutions, as well as locally-owned North and South Carolina businesses, in both jury and non-jury litigation.

Nikole regularly conducts investigations into alleged workplace harassment, discrimination, and other misconduct claims for employers across the country.  Along with her team, she has the ability to provide rapid and thorough investigation support.  In addition, a large part of Nikole’s practice is focused on complex, high-stakes litigation, including trade secret litigation for employers. She vigorously defends clients through some of their most tumultuous times.

Nikole also provides daily employment law advice and counseling to a number of corporate clients on issues involving virtually all aspects of employment law. She regularly represents companies before the District Courts of North and South Carolina and in federal courts across the country, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SHAC), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW).

Nikole works for clients in both South Carolina and North Carolina, defending them in litigation across the country.  Her engagements are varied, but she regularly provides advice and counsel on issues including:

  • complex commercial litigation
  • employment litigation defense
  • unfair business practices
  • healthcare employment law
  • healthcare reimbursement disputes
  • class actions/defense
  • pharmaceutical pricing defense
  • federal contractor compliance

Community & Professional

  • American Bar Association
  • North Carolina Bar
  • Richland County Bar Association
  • South Carolina Bar
  • International Association of Defense Counsel

Outside Maynard Nexsen

Nikole is the mom of three beautiful boys and is married to Joe Mergo, III.  She loves God and cherishes her family and always has a seat in the bleachers when her babies are up to bat.  She is also an avid runner.


Nikole Mergo led the trial team in Nephron Pharmaceuticals, et al. v. Hulsey, et al., as national counsel in a trade secrets matter against U.S. Compounding and Adamis Pharmaceuticals, involving litigation in federal court in Florida, New Jersey and South Carolina:

Nikole Mergo led the trial team as national counsel for 3D Systems in lawsuit in Hawaii federal district court. Read a related news release from the company: 3D Systems Prevails in Lawsuit Related to Website Domains

  • Other notable, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation et al v. Prodigy Health Health Supplier Corporate et al (2021) 

Some notables from outside the office:

    • Listed "2021 50 Most Influential" in Busines Monthly Columbia
    • Girl Scouts Women of Distinction 2020
    • Midlands Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team 2013
    • Board of Directors for the Palmetto Center for Women
    • The Palmetto Center for Women's 2011 Corporate TWIN Award


  • Listed "2021 50 Most Influential" in Business Monthly Columbia
  • Martindale-Hubbell "AV" Preeminent Peer Review Rated
  • Recognized by Chambers USA in South Carolina since 2017 in the area of Labor & Employment
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America for Litigation - Labor and Employment, Since 2013
  • "Legal Elite of the Midlands" - Labor & Employment Law
  • Girl Scouts Women of Distinction 2020
  • Included in South Carolina Super Lawyer List - Rising Star for 2012 in the area of Employment Litigation: Defense and Business Litigation 
  • IADC Trial Academy - 2003 Graduate
  • Former Member, University of Virginia Jefferson Scholars Regional Selection Committee


Nikole frequently lectures and trains employers both nationally and regionally, as well as writes about issues involving litigation defense, employment and labor law and health care.

  • “Crafting Enforceable Non-Disclosure, Non-Solicitation and Non-Compete Agreements,” SC Association of Corporate Counsel Virtual Annual Meeting - September 22, 2020
  • Virtual Commuting, Caregiving and Corona: Remote Work Strategies, Panelist for The Women in Legal and Corporate Leadership Virtual Summit - September 17, 2020 
  • "Pay Disparity - How to Prevent, Discover & Correct 'Scary' Situations" Women, Diversity & Law: Awareness Into Action Conference Atlanta, GA - October 30, 2019
  • A case study published by Columbia Business Monthly in its August 2016 "Legal Elite" edition: "A Profile of Legal Success Demonstrates How Businesses Should Handle Breach of Contract Claims."
  • Employers Faced January 1, 2013, Deadline to Update Fair Credit Reporting Act Notice
    SC Bar's Employment and Labor Law Newsletter: Winter 2013, February 15, 2013
  • The South Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Blair Mathis v. Brown & Brown of South Carolina, in which Maynard Nexsen's Nikole Mergo filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the South Carolina Hospital Association.



  • Protecting Your Company's Proprietary Information and Trade Secrets

    Proprietary information can be your company's greatest asset. But when those assets are misappropriated by a current or former employee, the loss can be devastating to your business. Employment defense and trial lawyer Nikole Mergo discusses the legal protections afforded to proprietary information.


  • On episode 64, Heather and Nexsen Pruet health care attorneys Matthew Roberts and Nikole Mergo sit down with Tod Augsburger, the President and CEO of Lexington Medical Center, a 557 bed nonprofit hospital in West Columbia, South Carolina. As the delta variant surges throughout the nation, Tod shares his insights on how Lexington Medical Center and the Lexington community has battled COVID since 2020, as well as health care trends like consolidation, pricing, and certificate of need. Tune in now for Tod’s first-hand account of leading a health care system during a global pandemic.


  • State Bar: South Carolina, North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court: South Carolina, North Carolina (Eastern, Middle, Western)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals: Fourth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Ninth Circuit 
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What is it about your practice that you enjoy most?

Partnering with clients to achieve practical and efficient solutions to avoid litigation, but always being ready to defend them zealously in litigation when the need ultimately arises.

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