Summer 2018 Read & Repeat

Two School of Law alumni have received the distinguished Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers. Andrew J. Savage III (’75) (pictured) will receive his award this fall. The first graduate to be so honored was Judy Clarke (’77) in 2016.

No other law school in the country has had more than one recipient.


 

 

Amount donated to the School of Law by 337 individuals on Giving Day, April 18, 2018.


The mock trial team tied for 13th in the country for 2016-2017, according to Fordham Law.


According to law.com, the class of 2017 was ranked 10th in the nation for graduates receiving state clerkships.


 

 

 

 

The School of Law’s new building won the Best Higher Education/Research Project in the Engineering News-Record Southeast’s annual awards competition. The building also received a LEED gold rating for its sustainability and environmentally friendly design.


 

 

 

Alumni and guests attended the 10 School of Law alumni events held on- and off-campus during 2017.

Building Bridges

Hazel A. Bridges always wanted to be like her grandmother, someone she considered a true public servant. Bridges says it was bittersweet to learn that she was selected to be a 2018 Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Fellow the same week as her grandmother’s death. Now, she says, she plans to use the opportunity to carry on her grandmother’s legacy.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship is awarded based on merit, and applications are evaluated by the Eisenhower National Selection Panel. The panel is composed of prominent national transportation professionals from academia and private and public sectors, who review, rate and rank each applicant. Bridges’ experience as a dual-degree student, seeking both a juris doctor and a master’s degree in public administration, placed her among the top tier of applicants. While her qualifications are impressive, it’s her passion and drive that stands out most.

“I have always been interested in economic and community development,” Bridges says. “Transportation, mobility, and infrastructure are crucial to any state’s economic vitality.”

Part of the application process required Bridges to propose a research topic and plan, to be completed during her tenure as a fellow. The plan she submitted stems from a policy paper she worked on during her summer 2017 clerkship at the Federal Highway Administration Office of Chief Counsel.

“My research will review transportation systems and public-private partnerships to recommend efficient collaborations for state systems,” Bridges says. “I hope my findings can provide insight as the General Assembly considers the 2018 South Carolina Multi-Modal Plan.”

The Bennettsville, South Carolina, native says the most exciting part of her fellowship has been attending the Transportation Research Board’s 97th Annual Meeting, which was held in January in Washington, D.C., and featured topics such as policy, administration, research, government regulation, industry innovations and academic developments.

“The meeting attracted more than 13,000 professionals from around the world and featured more than 5,000 presentations,” Bridges says. “It was such a great experience to meet professionals as well as other fellows from around the nation.”

Her fellowship drew attention from legislators back home in South Carolina. On Feb. 8, Bridges was surprised by an invitation to the house floor at the South Carolina House of Representatives, where she was recognized by motion by Rep. Merita A. Allison, chairwoman of the House Education and Public Works Committee, and commended for receiving the Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Transportation Fellowship.

It was an honor reminiscent of one her grandmother received years ago: the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the state’s most prestigious civic awards. It’s a memory and model Bridges plans to carry with her.

“This fellowship has ignited even more my enthusiasm to continue my grandmother’s legacy by remaining engaged, going beyond the call of duty and using my abilities to better my community,” Bridges says.

Trailblazers

Law alumnus I.S. Leevy Johnson and 3L Chelsea Evans

In 1968, I.S. Leevy Johnson became the first African-American graduate since Reconstruction to complete all three years of law school at the University of South Carolina. Fifty years later, Chelsea Evans graduated after serving as the first African-American editor-in-chief of the South Carolina Law Review. The two trailblazers recently sat down for a conversation about race and racism, the transcendence of success, and former Dean Robert Figg’s reaction to Johnson’s LSAT score.

Evans: Mr. Johnson, what made you want to go to law school and why did you choose to come to this law school?

Johnson: I did not have any intentions of attending law school. My ambition in high school was to be a mortician. I did attend mortuary science school at the University of Minnesota, but when I graduated from Benedict College in 1965, I wanted to enhance my skills as a business person. So I reflected and decided to go to law school. Because of proximity, I enrolled in the University of South Carolina because I wanted to stay home and be with my grandparents.

Evans: Proximity was definitely a factor for me, too, because I went here for undergrad. I love Columbia. I’ve enjoyed my time here and I think there have been so many people, including people like yourself, that have just been so wonderful and have been willing to share their knowledge. I was just not ready to leave.

Johnson: Well, I had some reservations back in 1965 because the first African-American to attend the University of South Carolina law school was also a Benedict graduate. He enrolled in 1964. Unfortunately, he did not make it after the first year. But I overcame that reluctance, and I was very fortunate to attend the School of Law.

Evans: And we’re all better for it.

Johnson: You’re very kind. It was quite a journey. In 1960, I came to campus to take the SAT. There were about five or six of us, as I recall, and we came to the University of South Carolina National Guard Armory. We entered the double doors and one of the proctors sort of zig-zagged through the other white students and said, “you, you and you,” pointing to the African-Americans. He said, “It’s going to be crowded in here. Come with me.” He took us down to North Main Street where we had to take the exam. Five years after that, I came back on campus at the same national guard armory and I took the LSAT and they did not remove me. In a five-year period, there had been a transformation here at the University of South Carolina.

Judge Jasper Cureton, who arrived here also in 1965, transferred from South Carolina State because they were closing down the law school. The dean at that time was Robert Figg. He looked at Jasper’s LSAT score and reacted by saying, “DAMN” because Jasper’s LSAT score was so high. He had the same reaction to my LSAT score, but for different reason. Mine was so low, he said, “DAMN!”

Evans: Speaking of Jasper Cureton, how well did you know him and Johnny Lake? Did you all have a relationship, given that you were the only three African-American students here?

Johnson: I had a relationship with Jasper. My recollection is that we only took one class together my second year and his third year. Johnny Lake I had very little contact with because he was here for a short period of time. I didn’t see him much, but my relationship with Jasper is longstanding. We remain very close friends and we talk on a regular basis. He certainly has been a role model as a judge.

Evans: What was the overall environment like? Were the other students friendly to you all? Were the professors friendly?

Johnson: I didn’t know there was such a thing as a friendly professor. Do they exist?

Evans: [laughing] I think they do.

Johnson: Well, contrary to the stereotype of the expectation, I did not experience any discrimination except for on a couple of occasions. If there was racism, it was covert instead of overt. You need to understand that I had a distinguished class. Two of my classmates, Jean Toal and Costa Pleicones, became the chief justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court. One of my classmates, Bob Sheheen, became the Speaker of the House. Several of my classmates became circuit judges. One became a congress person. Patton Adams became mayor of Columbia. A lot of my classmates were veterans, so they had had some exposure to African-Americans.

And I give credit to my grandfather and my grandmother. I grew up in a culture where you had an obligation to be nice to people, and so while I was the only African-American in the class, after a while I developed lasting friendships. I also think that my classmates saw in me a serious student. It’s no exaggeration, I studied seven days a week, day and night. I didn’t want to flunk out and embarrass my grandparents so I worked hard, and I think that hard work impressed people. But I had such wonderful classmates. I give them the credit.

I just recall two instances where there were obvious instances of discrimination. Back in those days, they had two student organizations. One of the organizations did not admit people of color, and so that was overt discrimination. I also remember taking a domestic relations class where one of the issues was miscegenation, inter-racial marriage. The professor had a whole list of relationships that were prohibited, but one that was condoned was that a white male could marry a black female. When he said that, I leaned over to my desk mate and I said to him, “I’m not going to let you marry my sister.” Apparently, a lot of people heard and everybody started laughing. At the end of that school year, that same professor, who I know did not have feelings that were pro-integration, came up to me and said, “You are the best thing that ever happened to this law school.”

Evans: That’s a great compliment.

Johnson: It was, coming from him. What he meant by that was that I had successfully disabused some of the stereotypes, some of the myths and some of the misconceptions about African-Americans, and that my conduct and my performance at the law school had enhanced the race relationships at the law school.

Evans: I think that’s a great point because it gets at the heart of why diversity matters in the legal profession, in law schools and firms, and any education environment. It does have the power to break down barriers and build bridges.

Johnson: You are so right. That’s why I tell law students and younger lawyers that the practice of law is a combination of three things: what you know, who you know and who knows you. The most important of the three is what you know. The product that we sell is the knowledge of the law. We don’t sell cars, we don’t sell chairs, we don’t sell desks. We sell knowledge of the law. Who you know is also important because the practice of lawyers is based on relationships. Who knows you is very, very important.

The challenge in life is giving definition to your name, so when they hear your name, people will have positive thoughts. I used to tell people that you can tell that you have exceled as a trial lawyer by the whisper. When you walk down the hall, people say, “oh, that’s him, that’s him.”

Evans: Did you have many mentors once you started practicing?

Johnson: Oh, absolutely! That was the key. We were not competitors. I came out of the funeral business where the business was very competitive. Judge Perry, the late Lincoln C. Jenkins Jr., Hemphill Pride, Harold Boulware and Ernest Finney – all of them were mentors to me. They were of great assistance to me, in terms of giving me advice, because they were experienced and told me how to handle certain cases.

Evans: What advice would you give a soon-to-be graduate to help them be as successful as you have been?

Johnson: You’re very kind to say I’m successful. Let me say, if I’ve enjoyed any success, my success is nothing compared to your success. I am so proud of what you have achieved, becoming editor of the law review. Whatever I’ve done in my career as a lawyer is directly related to your success as editor-in-chief of the law review. I say that seriously, because they are not disconnected. There’s still an obligation in 2018 to disabuse the myth that African-American law students and African-American lawyers are inferior to their counterparts.

Evans: Well, thank you. That means a lot to hear that from you and to know that what I’ve been able to do here is important to you, because you are an inspiration to me. It really is amazing to be able to sit and talk with you and hear your perspective and your insight. I know that I speak on behalf of every other student here that we are grateful for not only what you did then, but also all the things you continue to do to help us, such as creating the I.S. Leevy Johnson Scholarship in 1997. Why did you decide to create it?

Johnson: Because law school is so expensive!

Evans: I can agree with that!

Johnson: It’s so expensive, and I wanted to enable some student who did not have the financial means but who had the skills. I consider it a real blessing that I’ve been able to make that contribution to this law school because I believe it’s an investment. I believe those students who receive that scholarship one day will graduate and pass the bar. That one day, their work, either directly or indirectly, will benefit me. It’s just like depositing money into an investment account. One day, I’m going to reap a benefit from it.


The conversation, conducted on April 5, 2018, has been edited for length and clarity.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Supreme Court Justice John Few launches new website to match attorneys with South Carolinians seeking pro bono services.

If you were to ask South Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice John Cannon Few where he was struck with the inspiration for his latest project, the answer might surprise you — speed dating.

The 1988 alumnus and adjunct professor at the School of Law was attending the annual Liberty Fellows collaborative conference at the Aspen Institute in the summer of 2015, when he walked into a speed dating-style event. But instead of dating for a partner, this exercise encouraged the participants to share their “big idea” with a total stranger in under a minute. And then, wait for feedback.

“I walked in and thought ‘uh oh, I better come up with something,’” Few says. “I kept coming back to this idea that lawyers crave the opportunity to help people, and the inescapable truth that plenty of people in our community need help. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll explore a way to scale up the opportunity that lawyers have to represent people who qualify for free legal services.’”

But the feedback from each of his “dates” was the same – get technology involved and automate the process. For the next two years, that’s exactly what he did.

After receiving a grant from the South Carolina Bar Foundation and teaming up with a software firm, Few created the SC Access to Justice pro bono website, a portal that matches attorneys with clients who qualify for free legal services.

“One of the challenges with pro bono work is the difficulty of matching people up,” Few says. “If it’s done manually, someone has to pick up the phone. There’s usually multiple back and forth between the facilitator and the attorney, all the while the client is sitting there waiting for help.”

Few’s solution eliminates the middle man that slows down the process. On the website, attorneys willing to take pro bono cases register and take a few easy steps to select their desired caseload, practice areas and geographic locations. Their preferences filter through a pool of cases input by South Carolina Legal Services and are paired with the best fit. Attorneys can then review the details and choose whether to take the case.

“The whole idea behind this, technology-wise, is that we can create a digital marketplace in which lawyers who want to help can be matched up with people who need help,” Few says.

He encourages all members of the South Carolina Bar to accept pro bono cases.

“It’s the right thing to do. I try to think about it in terms of how I can help someone live their life more fully. The cases that we take on can give the clients the freedom to do that, while empowering the attorneys with a sense of pride knowing they have helped,” he says.

Currently, the site only filters existing South Carolina Legal Services cases, but Few hopes in the future his website will become a tool used in shelters, rehabilitation centers or hospitals — as an intake system for new cases and an added resource for eligible clients. While the site is currently administered from Greenville, South Carolina, Few’s goal is to appoint personnel throughout the state to provide local support for lawyers and clients.

The site is a passion project for Few, aligning with the goals and expectations he’s always had of himself as an attorney. These are the same expectations he humbly instills in his students. He says he teaches the fundamentals of what it means to be a lawyer and a servant to the community.

“Justice isn’t in a decision, or in a courtroom. It’s bigger than that. It’s what this whole profession is about — giving back,” Few says.

2018 Compleat Lawyer Awards recognize nine new recipients

The 2018 Compleat Lawyer recipients stand with winners from the previous years.

The 26th class of Compleat Lawyers were honored at the 2018 ceremony on April 19. Nine alumni were awarded the prestigious title, created by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

The Compleat Lawyer Awards were established in 1992 by the School of Law Alumni Council (formerly the Alumni Association) to recognize alumni for outstanding civic and professional accomplishments. Recipients are individuals who have made significant contributions to the legal profession and exemplify the highest standards of professional competence, ethics and integrity. They are nominated by members of the community and selected by a committee.

Platinum medallions are award to lawyers who have practiced for 31 years or more. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

H. Mills Gallivan ’76: Gallivan, White & Boyd, PA; Greenville

Edward G. Menzie, ’71: Nexsen Pruet, LLC; Columbia

Sarah Leverette, ’43: Columbia

Gold medallions are award to lawyers who have practiced for 16 to 30 years. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Anne McGinness Kearse (1998)
Daniel Sanders (1989)
John H. Tiller (1987)

Silver medallions are award to lawyers who have practiced for 15 years or less. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Joshua A. Bennett (2011)
Allen Mattison “Matt” Bogan (2004)
D. Nichole Davis (2011)

To see more photos from the event, please click here.

University of South Carolina adds context to its history

US NEWS, 21 FEB. 2018:

As some Southern universities grapple with uncomfortable truths about their histories, struggling with calls to rename or remove memorials and monuments to figures related to slavery and the Confederacy, the University of South Carolina is taking a different approach.

On Wednesday, the school unveils its tribute to Richard T. Greener, its first black professor and among the first black graduates of its law school. University officials say the bronze likeness of Greener is more than just the first-ever statue on the system’s flagship campus in Columbia.

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