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Karl received his Juris Doctor degree in law from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1980. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in mathematics from Winthrop University in 1978, graduating summa cum laude with honors.
He is admitted to practice before all State and Federal Courts in South Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. He is a member of the South Carolina Association for Justice and the American Association for Justice. During law school, Karl was a member of the Order of Wig & Robe and the ABA National Moot Court team, national finalists. He was also a Finalist in the J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition.
Karl received the 2019 Platinum Compleat Lawyer Award from the University of South Carolina School of Law and the 2020 Matthew J. Perry Public Service Award from the South Carolina Association for Justice.
Karl is a Lifetime Fellow and Past President of the South Carolina Bar Foundation (having previously served as Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer), and a member of its Justice Legacy. He is Past Chair of the SC Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and a former member of the South Carolina Bar House of Delegates and the Supreme Court's Joint Commission on Alternative Dispute Resolution. He also was the Municipal Court Judge for the Town of Timmonsville and President of the Florence County Bar.
Karl is a Master in the Pee Dee Chapter of American Inns of Court®, an association of lawyers and judges who share a passion for professional excellence. He has also been appointed in the past by the South Carolina Supreme Court to be an Attorney to Protect Clients' Interests and an Attorney to Assist Disciplinary Counsel.
Karl served 20 years on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Winthrop University, with six terms as its Chair and six terms as its Vice-Chair. He was the first male alumnus to serve on the Board, and serve as its Board Chair, as well as the first male to serve as President of the Winthrop Alumni Association and receive its Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Distinguished Service Awards. He served on the association's Executive Board for 13 years. He was also a member of the Winthrop Foundation Board of Directors and the Winthrop University Real Estate Foundation Board of Directors. Karl served on the Search and Selection Committees for the Tenth and Eleventh Presidents of Winthrop University.
Karl is a founding member of the Board of Directors and past President of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Assault, and has served continuously on its Board for over 35 years. He was a Board member of the Pee Dee Mental Health Center, and President and board member of the Mental Health Association of Florence County. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Awareness Foundation.
Karl has presented at numerous continuing legal education seminars, the South Carolina Judicial Conference, American Inns of Court®, the Univ. of South Carolina School of Law, and professional association conferences and conventions in the areas of expert witnesses; advanced mediation techniques; effective advocacy in mediation; arbitration certification; starting a mediation practice; early neutral evaluation (ENE); exploring alternative forms of dispute resolution; mistakes, myths and misunderstandings in mediation; effective use of technology and video presentations in mediation; avoiding impasse in mediation; guardian ad litem certification; applying computer technologies to the practice of law; equitable division of marital and business assets; and legal ethics.
Karl is a member of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is Past Chair of the Technology Committee of the South Carolina Association for Justice, served as administrator of its membership listserv for 12 years, and received the SCAJ President's Award. He has an AV® Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating available.
A certified civil court mediator and arbitrator in state and federal courts, and a certified family court mediator, Karl maintains an active ADR practice, having mediated over 5,100 cases in five states and arbitrated over 350 cases in three states. He is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a founding member of the South Carolina Academy of Mediators and Arbitrators. He served on the Association for Conflict Resolution South Carolina Chapter Organizing Committee and its founding Board of Directors. He was Vice-Chair and board member of the South Carolina Council for Conflict Resolution.
Karl is a licensed SC Real Estate Broker with Folkens Real Estate, LLC, and is a member of the Pee Dee Realtor Association, South Carolina Realtors and National Association of Realtors. He serves as President of the Pee Dee Realtor Foundation.
Karl was also a founder and planner of the Blue Ridge Boxster Summit for 20 years.
Karl is married to Nell Folkens, the firm manager of Folkens Law Firm, P.A., and broker-in-charge of Folkens Real Estate, LLC. Karl is the proud father of Elizabeth, a Winthrop alumna accountant, and Anna Leah, also a Winthrop alumna who is a marriage and family therapist in Charlotte, N.C. Karl is also the proud step-father to Chase, owner of Carolina Creations Taxidermy, LLC, in Sardis, SC, and Ali, owner of Ali Wilder Interiors, LLC, in Mt. Pleasant, SC. He is also the proud grandfather to four grandsons.
Karl was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. After high school, he worked for two years for the Division for Parish Services of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) as a Youth Staffer to the North Carolina and South Carolina Synods before attending college and law school.
Karl completed his goal of visiting all 50 states before turning 50 and traveled to all 50 states again in 2022 in 30 days, 49 of them in an electric car, in celebration of his 5,000th mediation and 40+ years of practicing law. He traveled to all seven continents, having made his continental Antarctica landing on New Year's Eve December 2017 (followed by a celebratory Polar Plunge!). In addition to being an avid traveler, he enjoys photography, playing guitar, studying behavioral economics, playing with Milly the Office Dog, and all things technological.
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