Breaking ground, moving forward

The future home of the University of South Carolina School of Law

A new University of South Carolina School of Law building is taking form with the first load of structural steel delivered in February.

It’s tremendous progress, especially considering it was only a few months ago that more than 400 law school faculty, students, and alumni came out for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Sept. 26, 2014. And while it may have been the symbolic turning of dirt the crowd came to see that day, the message they carried away was of the promise of a brighter future for our state and our nation.

“I would not be overly bold if I said that no college at the University of South Carolina has had a greater impact on the Palmetto State than our School of Law,” said University President Harris Pastides. “The rule of law is one of the great pillars of civilization. The work that will be accomplished here will impact the quality of life for men, women, and children in South Carolina, and I hope throughout the world, for generations to come.”

During his remarks, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, ’81, said, “What comes out of this building is the most important aspect of why we’re here today, and I’m here to tell you that what’s going to come out of this building in the future is going to be some of the best lawyers and judges in the entire United States: family court judges, trial judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and those who represent average, everyday South Carolinians.

“One of the most important things I can do in my time in politics is to be a partner with USC to build a law school that will tell the world that South Carolina cares about the rule of law.”

Jean H. Toal, ’68, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, said, “It’s not too much to say that South Carolina has made a major new investment in the creation of a just society for its citizens. This is where the lawyers of the future — in whose hands the rule of law will be crafted — will be trained.”

So how will the new law school fulfill this promise? How can a building change legal education and improve the way students are being prepared to be the leaders of tomorrow?

According to Dean Rob Wilcox, a major part of it comes down to the fact that the new building was specifically designed to enhance the synergy among faculty, students, and the legal community in ways that the current building can’t accommodate.

“One of the immediate impacts on South Carolina’s legal profession is that this building will open up so many opportunities to bring together judges and lawyers with students and faculty,” Wilcox said. “It will be built in a way that increases interaction and facilitates communication, and that will change the entire climate of the law school.”

Breaking ground image twoExpected to open in 2017, the three-story, 187,500-square-foot school will occupy the block bounded by Gervais, Bull, Senate and Pickens streets in downtown Columbia, creating an important legal nexus for the state and the university. In addition to its proximity to the state legislature, State Supreme Court, municipal courthouses and downtown law firms, the new building will be located directly across Gervais Street from the USC Law Children’s Law Center, where research, training, and education on children’s legal issues will be performed, and one block north of the National Advocacy Center, where federal prosecutors are trained.

First-year students Travis Bain and Sara Shariff believe the advanced tools and features of the new school will certainly benefit future students.

“Facilities capable of providing the structure and environment needed to develop a bright legal future is probably one of the biggest things that a prospective law student might look for,” said Bain. “The new school conveys to both students and the community that USC is committed to the development of young legal professionals.”

The new building definitely factored into Shariff’s decision to attend USC for law school. “Although I realized I wouldn’t get much time in the new building,” she said, “I still considered the school’s growth. The opening of the new building will be a huge moment in the law school’s history, and I am glad to be part of this monumental change.”


Grab a big red marker, turn to September on your calendar and draw a nice big circle around Friday the 26th. Add a few stars for effect, and write the following words in all caps: USC Law School Groundbreaking.Then make plans to be here and be a part of one of the biggest milestones in the school’s almost 150 year history as we officially break ground for our new 187,000 square foot building.

Located on Gervais Street, between Bull and Pickens streets, the new building will help form the state’s “legal corridor” along with the State House, the S.C. Supreme Court and the National Advocacy Center, as well as many downtown law firms. Each element, from classrooms to courtrooms to available technology, has been designed with flexibility in mind, allowing USC Law to meet the rapidly changing needs of legal education well into the future.

We hope you’ll join us for this historic day!

Want to attend? Let us know by registering at  

Topping-off ceremony marks another milestone

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0056On Thursday, July 9, a little more than nine months after first breaking ground, the University of South Carolina School of Law celebrated a major milestone in the construction of its new home: the topping-off ceremony. Faculty, staff, university trustees and distinguished alumni gathered to watch as the final piece of steel forming the structural framework of the building was lifted into place by construction crews.

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0005School of Law Dean Robert Wilcox said seeing the completion of this phase of construction is a reminder of how the school promises to further transform law education at the university.

“Already the building is transforming the Gervais Street corridor. When finished, it will just as surely open new opportunities for our students to study law in the best possible environment,” he said. “We are incredibly excited to see the project reach this milestone toward completion.”

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0026University President Harris Pastides praised the dedication of Gilbane Construction’s crew in reaching the milestone. “It’s been fascinating for all of us to watch USC’s new School of Law’s structural rise,” he said. “Hard hats off to these tenacious workers who, even during one of the hottest summers on record, have provided the expertise needed to get each steel beam in place.” 

Over the next 18 months, the building will begin to come to life as its offices, classrooms, courtrooms, bookstore, library, café, commons area and courtyard take shape. Completion is expected by the School of Law’s 150th anniversary in the fall of 2017.

In keeping with a centuries-old Scandinavian tradition, when the highest beam of a building is hoisted into place, a tree is raised along with it to symbolize the bringing of life to the new structure. The Leyland cypress raised at the School of Law’s ceremony will be removed from the beam and planted on the grounds of the new building. Because the cypress is a symbol of durability and longevity, it will serve as a living reminder of the School of Law’s long tradition of contributions to the state, the nation and the world.

Watch time-lapse videos showing the progress so far:




Spring 2015

In this issue

Committed to Excellence
A message from Dean Robert M. Wilcox.

Breaking ground, moving forward
After much anticipation, the new law school building is taking shape.

Q&A with Colin Miller
The associate dean for faculty development is the creator and editor of a blog ranked among the ABA Journal’s Top 100.

Getting away with murder
Prof. James Underwood’s latest book recounts the turn-of-the century political scandal that rocked South Carolina.

A conversation with the President
USC Law alumnus and ABA President William Hubbard shares his thoughts on his time at the helm of the association, and the future of the legal profession.

Remembering Morris Rosen
He left an indelible mark on his native Charleston and on the Palmetto State.

Faculty updates
A look at the scholarly activities of USC School of Law faculty.

Read and repeat
Want to brag? Here are a few things to talk up about your law school at that next cocktail party.

People, events, and accomplishments happening at the School of Law.

Publication Information

York County conviction shows domestic violence law applies to same-sex marriages


A Fort Mill man was convicted earlier this month in a York County court of domestic violence against his husband. It’s South Carolina’s second groundbreaking ruling this month related to gay marriage.

Until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 legalized gay marriage, the charge of domestic violence in same-sex relationships could not have gone to court. South Carolina law did not recognize domestic violence in same-sex relationships until gay marriage became legal.

Thousands of gay victims and gay defendants could be impacted by the March conviction, legal experts said. Colin Miller, criminal law and evidence expert at the University of South Carolina law school, said under state domestic violence law, the following are legal definitions of a household member for purposes of prosecuting domestic violence: spouse, former spouse, persons who have a child in common, or a male and female who live together or have lived together.

Committed to Excellence

Dean Rob WilcoxIt’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the groundbreaking ceremony for our new building. It’s even harder to fathom that this June we’ll make our move and be in our new home when the fall semester begins. And while the anticipation continues to grow, it’s important to remember that the best part of our new building will be the education it will help us provide to future law students so that they will become great lawyers. We have a tradition of outstanding alumni. For almost 150 years, our graduates have used their degrees to change this world for the better. And our incredible faculty, with their passion for the law, continues to shape the lives and careers of future alumni.

In this issue, we wanted to share just a few stories of ways our alumni and new faculty members are making an impact. Stories like that of Lonnie Doles and Jack Cohoon, who worked to correct an oversight in the coding of criminal records that too often prevented otherwise-capable individuals from obtaining jobs and providing for their families. Stories like that of Sheila Bias, whose participation in the mentoring program coordinated by the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough Center on Professionalism has provided valuable insight and encouragement to many first-year students. And then there’s Lee Floyd, whose 2006 student paper helped change state Supreme Court precedent almost a decade later.

Prof. Bob Felix was the one who brought Lee’s story to our attention, and it serves as a great example of how the bonds between student and teacher last long after graduation. Likewise, Bill McAninch continues to positively affect the lives of our alumni through the Loan Forgiveness Fund he established, which turns 15 this year and has helped numerous public interest lawyers reduce their student debt.

Also in this issue, you’ll meet our six newest faculty members — key hires in helping us increase our clinical offerings, grow our environmental law program and strengthen our legal research and writing curriculum. And you’ll also learn about Prof. Derek Black’s new book, “Ending Zero Tolerance,” which chronicles the rise of such policies and the unintended consequences they have had on our youth.

It’s stories like these that show the impact our school continues to have on our state and our nation. That positive impact is truly something for all of us to be proud of.

And don’t worry — you’ll also find a few photos showing the exciting progress of the building!

A message from the Dean

Leadership lies at the very core of our mission as a law school. There are so Rob Wilcoxmany tangible examples of how the University of South Carolina School of Law is leading the way in word and deed. In past issues, we have highlighted the remarkable leadership records of our alumni in national professional organizations. In this issue, we turn your attention especially to the leadership shown by our faculty, staff, and students. 

One of our most exciting new student experiences is the Konduros Leadership Initiative Program, detailed in our cover story. The program, which began last fall, focuses on helping our students jumpstart their paths to leadership positions. It is a unique offering designed especially for our students, and it will make a significant difference for those who participate. Soon we’ll have a network of Konduros Leadership alumni across the nation, poised and ready to do great things. 

Our faculty continue to build upon our law school’s reputation as a thought leader in matters of law and policy. You’ll read about Prof. Eboni Nelson, who has recently received a grant to study aspects of the law school admissions process that could potentially blaze a trail for more women and minorities to enter the legal profession. Then there is Prof. Marcia Yablon-Zug’s thought-provoking new book chronicling the history of mail-order brides and showing how the pioneering efforts of these women helped build America. 

Speaking of pioneering women, we sat down with our own Pamela Robinson, named South Carolina Lawyers Weekly’s “2016 Lawyer of the Year,” to learn the origins of the groundbreaking Pro Bono Program she helped create, how she keeps the program fresh after so many years, and why she came to law school on a dare. 

Just as Pam has led the Pro Bono Program to excellence for more than a quarter century, another of our alumni, Harry Davis, has guided the development of our Children’s Law Center into one of the state’s most important organizations serving the interests of children. In this issue we say goodbye to Harry, who retired in May after 12 years as director of the center, and we welcome Michelle Dhunjishah as his successor. Michelle has a proven track record of helping South Carolina’s children, and we know she will continue to build upon the work begun under Harry’s remarkable leadership. 

Finally, you’ll go behind the construction fence to see some recent photos that will help you visualize the progress and the impact of our new home. With less than a year until we move in, we couldn’t be more excited. Stay tuned for more updates in the months to come, as we roll out our schedule for a year of commemorative events around this new building and the 150th anniversary of our school. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating!


Robert M. Wilcox

A message from the Dean

While 2014 was filled with accomplishments, two major events took place that made it arguably one of the most exciting years in the history of our great school.

First, as you hopefully know, we broke ground on our new building in September 2014, and construction has since been Rob Wilcoxmoving swiftly. Every day, I watch our new home taking shape and changing both the future of our school and the landscape of our city. As the steel girders go up, I can’t help but be excited, not only for the future of our law school, but also for its past and present.

The new building represents a tremendous step forward in the investment the university is making in the School of Law. As evidenced by the distinguished group of alumni present at the groundbreaking, our school has long been a critical part of the state and nation. The university recognizes the importance it has played — and will continue to play — in the law profession in this state. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about the unique features of our new home that will benefit South Carolina’s legal community, the university, and our students for years to come.

Second, we are tremendously proud of one of our own, William Hubbard, who is currently serving as president of the American Bar Association. He took time out of his very busy schedule to sit down with us and share the progress on the first half of his ABA presidency and offer a glimpse at what lies in store for the remainder of his term.

Of course we are proud of the many leaders the School of Law has produced, and in these pages you’ll learn about a number of your fellow graduates who, like Mr. Hubbard, have led national legal organizations.

And if you are a fan of the public radio podcast “Serial,” then chances are you’re also familiar with Professor Colin Miller’s EvidenceProf blog. His series of posts that provided a “legal companion” to the record-breaking podcast broke a few records of its own. With almost a million page views, it is the most read series on the Law Professors Blog Network. Colin shares why he started blogging about the show and offers advice to those interested in starting their own legal blogs. Of course, as our new associate dean for faculty development, you’ll also hear his plans for raising the profile of our professors on the national stage.

Speaking of professors, you’ll read about the latest work of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jim Underwood, and we’ll introduce you to our six newest faculty members and their innovative scholarly work.

These are just a few of the highlights you’ll find in this issue. I hope you will agree with me that we have many good reasons to be proud of our law school, and our future has never been brighter.


Robert M. Wilcox

Summer 2014

In this issue

Committed to Excellence
A message from Dean Robert M. Wilcox.
Digital distinction
USC Law’s Coleman Karesh Law Library has been digitizing some of its 500,000 volumes since 2010, further cementing its role as the state’s premier law library.
Before the bench
Students in the law school’s new Middle School Mentoring Program recently had a taste of presenting arguments before a real judge.
Writing robustly
The new S.C. Legal Writing Academy gives lawyers an intensive course in communicating clearly.
Save the date
USC Law breaks ground on its new building this fall.
As the Pro Bono Program turns 25, we want to hear your pro bono stories.
2014 alumnus Jeff Gurney ponders the question of liability when driverless cars of the future wind up in accidents.
Read and repeat Want to brag? Here are a few things to talk up about your law school at that next cocktail party.