Knowlton lecture to address freedom of speech on college campuses

“Freedom of Speech and the Modern University” is the title of this year’s Charles W. Knowlton Law & Liberal Arts Lecture at the University of South Carolina School of Law. It will be delivered by Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School, on March 23 at 5 p.m., and could not be more timely, as issues surrounding academic freedom have increasingly impacted higher education around the nation, and right here in South Carolina.

In February 2014, the University of South Carolina, USC Upstate, and the College of Charleston were at risk of losing state funding because of certain textbooks and courses. In 2016, two professors at Clemson University were among more than 200 across the nation who were put on the “Professor Watchlist,” which says it names instructors who “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” And more recently, faculty and staff at the College of Charleston have grappled with where the line between freedom of speech and being a respectful instructor blur.

After the 2016 election, the school’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, Brian McGee, reported several complaints from students who had “perceived that election discussions in a class meeting were not relevant to course content, were inappropriately one-sided, or were crudely partisan.” Following those reports, the school’s president, Glenn McConnell, enacted a new online presence that would “offer students a way to express their concerns, as well as provide faculty, staff, and administrators an excellent tool for improvement.”
But what startled faculty was the quickness at which the school had reacted to student’s complaints without stopping to check their validity. Professors wondered what role the complaints would play in the promotion and tenure of faculty. It also sparked a discussion state-wide about when and how to teach subjects that are innately political.

In a January article in the Charleston City Paper, Professor W. Scott Poole said, “In my class today, we are reading a section of a book that talks about the pro-Nazi ‘American First’ movement in the 1930s represented by Charles Lindbergh. I would be remiss as a teacher if I did not point out that this phrase was used in [President Trump’s Inaugural Address] as a kind of mantra. Is this crudely partisan or am I simply stating a historical fact for my students to then discuss and analyze?”
Put another way, if fact is couched as opinion, how does one teach without bias, and how does one learn without discrimination? In a deeply divided nation and an era of “alternative facts,” those types of questions are being asked even more frequently by students and professors alike.
For Post, the answers go all the way back to 1791, when the First Amendment was ratified. It created a culture that enjoyed and encouraged freedom of speech, and until the 1930s, courts had little to no role in protecting those rights. But as World War I began, judges had to rethink their role as freedom of speech transitioned into an “organized sway of public opinion.”

Post is an expert of constitutional law, First Amendment rights, legal history, and equal protection. Before his time as dean and professor at Yale Law, he taught at the University of California, Berkley School of Law. He has written and edited numerous books, including Citizens Divided: A Constitutional Theory of Campaign Finance Reform. Much of his knowledge has been learned over a career spent on college campuses, where discussions about freedom of speech frequently arise.
In his lecture, Post will explore the growth of the First Amendment from the perspective of the law, as well as practical application as an educator, and a student. He looks to examine the challenge between freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and why more than ever, free speech on college campuses should be preserved, allowing schools to exist as the “marketplace of ideas.”

The lecture is free and open to the public.

South Carolina Law Review elects first black woman editor in chief

For the first time in its 69-year history, the South Carolina Law Review has elected an African-American to serve as its editor-in-chief. Chelsea Evans, a second-year law student from North Myrtle Beach, S.C., was elected by peers to lead the esteemed University of South Carolina School of Law publication.

“I’m proud to belong to and lead such a talented, motivated and accomplished team. Serving as editor-in-chief will be challenging and will require a great deal of hard work and diligence, but we have a great board of editors, and I am confident that we will continue to uphold the reputation and legacy of the South Carolina Law Review,” Evans said.

Evans, who was elected Feb. 13 by the journal’s 59 student editors, will lead the South Carolina Law Review for a one-year term. Published four times annually, the publication is a resource for the legal and academic community and is one of the most frequently cited legal journals in the country.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be elected editor-in-chief, and I hope that my election encourages more women and people of color to pursue law degrees, journal membership and the position of editor-in-chief,” Evans said.

Evans graduated magna cum laude from the university in 2014 with a degree in public health.

Chelsea Evans, a second-year law student from North Myrtle Beach, S.C., was elected by peers to lead the South Carolina Law Review.

She says doing policy research work as a mayor’s fellow in Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin’s office and doing economic development work for EngenuitySC led her to study law. The opportunity to sharpen her skills in legal research, writing and analysis lured her to the South Carolina Law Review.

Dean Rob Wilcox is confident in Evans’ ability to build on the law review’s reputation and raise its visibility.

“I have no doubt that Chelsea will experience many important achievements like this one in her career,” Wilcox said. “Her confidence, her talent, and her leadership give her the ability to make everyone she works with better.  As a result, there is no limit on what she can achieve.”

Law professor Joseph Seiner isn’t surprised to see Evans chosen to lead the law review.

“Chelsea is a wonderful, dedicated research assistant who always provides thoughtful and reasoned analysis in her work,” Seiner said. “She is quite simply one of the sharpest and most reliable students I have worked with and I have no doubt that she will be highly successful in her new leadership role.”

Evans stands in front of the new School of Law building that will open in the summer of 2017.

Evans will balance the demands of South Carolina Law Review with her other law school activities. In addition to serving as a research assistant and a member of the Pro Bono Board, Evans participates in other student organizations, including the Black Law Students Association. Evans also has served as a mentor to middle-school students in the Constitutional Scholars Pipeline Program, an initiative that encourages minority students to pursue a career in law. On top of that, she is a judicial extern for U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs.

When thinking about life after law school, Evans says she is interested in corporate law and will continue to invest herself in service work and the community wherever she lives.

“I entered law school with a public health background and a love for service, but I have become even more empathetic. Law school has taught me to view the world differently and to analyze situations from different perspectives,” Evans said.

As part of her careful time management, Evans makes a point to carve out time for her friends and family, particularly with her sister Taylor, an undergraduate student at Carolina.

Founded in 1948, the South Carolina Law Review can trace its roots back to 1831, when the Carolina Bar Journal briefly was published in Columbia before the Civil War. Today, it is one of the most active legal journals in the nation. Learn more online at The law review’s website. 

2017 J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition

Trey McGrew-Bryant, Alexa Tattersall, Justice John W. Kittredge, Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, Justice Kaye G. Hearn, Jonathan Lewis, Justice George C. James, Jr., and Stephen Griffith stand in the South Carolina Supreme Court room after the competition.

Alexa Tattersall, a second-year law student and native of Temecula, CA, was named “Best Oralist” during the University of South Carolina School of Law’s annual J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition, held at the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Third-year student Trey McGrew-Bryant and second-year student Alexa Tattersall were named the final round winners in 2017’s J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition.

Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, Justice John W. Kittredge, Justice Kaye G. Hearn and Justice George C. James, Jr. heard the case, which was argued by the final four advocates, second year students Jonathan Lewis and Stephen Griffith, as well as Tattersall’s co-counsel third-year student Trey McGrew-Bryant.

“It is such an honor and an accomplishment. It feels extremely satisfying to see hard work and sacrifice come to fruition with this once-in-a-lifetime recognition. I have never been so proud to be acknowledged. It was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life,” says Tattersall.

Tattersall and McGrew-Bryant, the petitioners, were named the winning team. Respondent Griffith received “Best Brief” honors.

“The chance to present an oral argument to the highest court in the State is an opportunity that many attorneys will never get to experience during their legal career. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity.  The amount of preparation and work that was dedicated to the process beforehand helped me to realize how much I need to do before I can feel confident and proud in the presentation that I ultimately gave.  The experience of actually presenting was second to none;  being able to engage in a conversation about the law in our state will help me to prepare for my future career,” says Tattersall.

Best Orator, Alexa Tattersall stand by a portrait of J. Woodrow Lewis, who the competition is named for.

In addition to being named “Best Oralist,” Tattersall is also very active within the School of Law. She is a member of the Journal of Law and Education, as well as a tutor for first-year students in Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing. Tattersall is a Law School Ambassador, a Law School Peer mentor, President of the Technology and Law Student Association, as well as a member of the American Bar Association.

The J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition is an annual appellate advocacy competition held in memory of the The Honorable J. Woodrow Lewis, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

The competition is open to all second- and third-year students at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Competitors prepare an appellate brief and compete in two rounds of oral arguments in teams of two. The top two teams advance to the final round, argued before justices of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Legal community participates in poverty disaster simulation

In February, members of the Columbia legal community took part in a disaster poverty simulation coordinated by the American Bar Association and held at the South Carolina Bar Conference Center. Among the participants were students and faculty and staff from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Through the use of role-play, the simulation provided an opportunity for the legal community to walk in the shoes of those living in poverty and gain a better understanding about why some low-income clients make the decisions they do.
“This isn’t even really ‘a day in the life.’ We call this just dipping your toes into the experience of so many people in our country,” said American Bar Association Disaster Poverty Simulation coordinator Alicia Aiken.
It was also a chance for participants to learn how they could be more effective legal aid and pro bono attorneys, as well as identify ways to improve responses to those in need. Ultimately, the hope was to equip participants with a more compassionate and understanding perspective of this population and the problems they face, especially when catastrophe strikes.
“It is our goal to educate the legal community, as well as the entire community in various states across this country, about the importance of preparing for disasters and how to recover from them,” said Chantis Floyd, chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee for Disaster Response and Preparedness.  Columbia was chosen by the committee as one of the simulation sites because of the historic flooding that occurred in 2015.

Participants read about their character’s backstory before the simulation begins.

The two-and-a-half hour simulation was broken up into five “weeks,” with each week lasting approximately 15 minutes in real time. When attendees entered the simulation, they were given character profiles, including their character’s name and a brief backstory of their experiences. They were then broken into teams, each with a family name and the goal of meeting their families’ most basic needs. Volunteers took on roles as bank representatives, social service workers, day-care providers, legal aid attorneys, grocers and employers, all offering services or goods the families needed to survive.
But just like in real life, not everyone enjoyed the same privileges. For instance, a police officer patrolled the simulation, stopping families and demanding to see social security cards for each member. Those families who were never given identification cards were evicted, denied employment, or even taken to jail.
For children, each day began with a trip to school. Before entering the classroom, students had to present a slip that proved they had eaten dinner the night before. Those slips were acquired only when their parents visited the grocer, or took them to “Bonnie’s Burgers,” the local fast food chain that was in walking distance from their house. Without the slip, students had to return home, forcing parents to miss work and consequently have even less money for that night’s meal.

Police officers patrolled the simulation.

What’s more, some of the characters were given name tags with colored dots. Each color corresponded to how the volunteers were instructed to treat them. Red dots were for those considered to be shiftless or lazy, and always looking for a free handout. Characters with green dots were viewed as dangerous, or possibly wanted by the law. Blue dots were for those seen as a best friends, or trusted people.
“The dots are relatively new to this simulation in particular, and it’s to help understand implicit bias,” said Sharon Terrill, program specialist for the ABA.
First-year law student Brooke Hiltbold was assigned the character of a 24-year-old man, who lived with his girlfriend and her one-year-old from a previous relationship. Hiltbold’s character was employed, doing seemingly meaningless jobs such as stacking chairs, organizing water bottles and counting the carpet squares in the SC Bar conference room. But Hiltbold, who had a green dot, found that no matter how efficiently she completed a task, her character was challenged, as her employer assumed she was doing something wrong.
“My very first day at ‘work,’ they immediately started making snide remarks,” said Hiltbold.
 As a 10-year-old boy, with a red dot, first-year law student Alex Zimmerman felt his character was being looked down on by the school principal, played by Susan Kuo, the associate dean for diversity and inclusion and a professor at the law school.

Professor Kuo played the school principal to “children” like first-year law student Alex Zimmerman’s simulation character.

“If I turned in my homework, it was just like, ‘Oh you actually did something well,’” said Zimmerman. “It made me angry being treated a certain way, and then seeing someone else getting preferential treatment… That was very frustrating.”
“I could see the shock and hurt on people’s faces when I treated them poorly—and not because of anything they had done but because of who they were in the game,” said Kuo. “That children experience this on a daily basis, especially from those with authority over them, is tragic.”
In week three of the five-week simulation, a hurricane hit the town, knocking out power and closing most businesses. Schools were turned into shelters, giving those families who relied on public school for child-care a new obstacle. Some of the families’ homes were randomly deemed unsuitable for living, forcing them into shelters or neighbors’ homes. Others were told the storm injured them, making them unable to work.
Throughout the simulation, almost every character was forced to make hard decisions in order to meet their family’s immediate needs—even when it meant negative consequences in other areas of their life. And for so many, trying to get legal aid was nearly impossible because of the circumstances or biases stacked against them.
At the end, all of the participants came together for a discussion about their various experiences, and to try to find ways to better address the issues, or identify problems that proved more important than previously thought.
“Everyone started working together to recover after the disaster hit. They were sharing information as well as personal resources. I hope people learned that our vulnerability and resilience in times of disaster depends not just on economic factors, but also social factors,” said Kuo. 

Hiltbold’s character was unable to get legal services after she was injured during the hurricane.

Hiltbold said everyone should should go through a simulation like this.
“You hear about these things, but being able to get into the shoes of someone who lives this on a daily basis allows you to—even for a short time—experience some of the emotions and frustrations that people feel. It takes it to a whole new level. And helps us to incorporate that feeling into how we can promote change.”

Law students reach semifinals in first ABA client counseling competition

(From left to right) Zachary Kern, Joshua Giancola, Steven Austermiller, Lindsay Richardson, and Aleia Hornsby.

Two teams of University of South Carolina School of Law students made it to the semifinals in the American Bar Association Regional Client Counseling Competition in February. Third-year student Aleia Hornsby and second-year student Lindsay Richardson made up one team, while third-year student Joshua Giancola and second-year student Zachary Kern formed the second team. The four students were the first to ever represent the School of Law in this national competition.

On Feb. 11, the teams each had four performances on the topic of privacy law to impress the judges. Students dealt with cases involving neighbors and drones, a data breach, and employee privacy. The teams beat opponents from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, North Carolina Central School of Law, University of South Dakota School of Law, the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University, and the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law.

“Both teams performed incredibly well all day and received strong scores and feedback from the judges. We are all very proud of our teams,” said coach Steve Austermiller, who teaches Intro to ADR and works for the university’s Rule of Law Collaborative

To qualify for the regional competition, the two teams had to win the internal competition at the School of Law. Students were tested on fundamental skills needed to be a successful attorney; specifically, the ability to interview, counsel, and support a client through a difficult legal problem.

Coastal Law Field Lab offers summer program to law students around the country

“It’s unlike any class you’ve ever taken in law school.” That’s how Professor Josh Eagle describes The Coastal Law Field Lab, a four-week, six-credit summer class offered by the University of South Carolina School of Law.

“The Coastal Law Field Lab is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students who are interested in environmental law, real estate practice, or who want to immerse themselves into a new area of law through interactive learning,” says program coordinator Emily Bogart

Professor Josh Eagle explains a lesson point on the beach in Charleston.

The Coastal Law Field Lab is open to law students from across the country. Those who are selected for the course will spend four weeks diving into coastal law. The classes are taught by renowned law scholars, including Solomon Blatt Professor of Law Josh Eagle—who wrote the casebook on coastal law— and Professor Nathan Richardson, both from the University of South Carolina School of Law, as well as Dean Cinnamon Carlarne, who is also a professor of law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. However, students will also hear from other experts such as coastal law attorneys, environmental activists, commercial contractors, and more.

“There are two kinds of days in our course. The first is the classroom day, where we will have typical law discussions on coastal law issues. And in the afternoon, we have an interdisciplinary lecture, something like wetlands ecology, coastal oceanography, and environmental policy and economics,” says Eagle.

But the exciting part for Eagle happens on the days outside of the classroom, the field lab days. For about half of the class, eight full days, students will visit beautiful locations like Kiawah Island, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach. In addition to their beauty, the sites were picked because they have been at the heart of important litigation or illustrated national coastal, environmental, and energy law issues. Regulators and lawyers from both sides of the case will also discuss the issues involved with that property.

“There aren’t a lot of classes in law school that are in the field. I saw this as an opportunity to break through the walls of the classroom,” says Nexsen Pruet associate and former Coastal Law Field Lab student Alex Serkes.

Coastal Law Field Lab students will visit various sites that have been at the heart of important litigation or illustrated national coastal, environmental, and energy law issues

Serkes took the class in 2016, when the course—informally known as “Law at the Beach”—was offered as a spring break trip. After popular demand, Eagle decided to extend the course to four weeks in the summer, and open it to students across the country.

“I wish it would have been longer when I took it, so I think this is a great idea,” says Serkes.

Eagle says being in the field is crucial to effective learning when it comes to coastal law.

“Really we are property lawyers working in a sensitive environment. It’s important for lawyers to know and understand the physical aspects of the properties, and the only way we can do that is by going down and seeing some of these places,” says Eagle. “Students will learn how to walk the property with a client. It’s something you can’t learn from a textbook.”

“As a practicing attorney, getting firsthand knowledge of these environmental litigation issues, before actually practicing, gives you a better perspective of what’s out there and what could happen. It ends up making you a better attorney,” says Serkes.

Aside from the many on-site educational opportunities it offers, Charleston is a great place to

King Street is home to many award-winning restaurants, beautiful shops and unique architecture.

spend a month. Charleston is the first domestic destination to earn the coveted Travel + Leisure World’s Best City title. With impressive shops and nightlife, there is plenty for students to do. It’s home to hundreds of unique restaurants, from fresh seafood to outdoor cafes. It’s a foodie’s paradise’s, served with a southern smile.

“From the beautiful scenery to the historical significance of the city, Charleston is a must-see destination. Spending a full month in Charleston will give students the opportunity to really explore the city,” says Bogart.


And all of it is easily accessible from the College of Charleston—located in the heart of downtown—where Coastal Law Field Lab students will have the option to stay.

The class runs from June 18 to July 15, 2017. Applications are available online.

Women in Law raises money, awareness for STSM

Second-year students Tyra McBride and Marcurius Byrd hold signs to encourage runners and provide fast facts about the services STSM provides.

The University of South Carolina School of Law Women in Law (WIL) student organization has a long history of helping out the community at large. In February 2017, they donated $2,000 to the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM).

The money was raised last semester during the 20th annual 5K race, “WIL to Run.” In previous years, the 5K was held in the spring, close to Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, but with other community events happening around that time, organizers thought moving their event to the fall would bring year-round attention to the mission of STSM. The fall event brought in 58 runners and over 50 volunteers.

Kristen Sweaney

WIL aims to promote the interests of women within the legal profession and to further the exchange of ideas among women, as well as support the community through pro bono projects.

“We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to further our education and join the legal profession, and we feel it is our duty to take these blessings and use them for the greater good,” says WIL treasurer and second-year law student Kristen Sweaney.

Second-year student William Ivey came in first place at the WIL to Run 5K.

In addition to raising $2,000 to benefit STSM, WIL hopes the race will increase awareness about the services STSM provides: crisis intervention, advocacy, and support services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Richland, Lexington and Newberry counties. 

“Sexual violence, assault, and abuse happen in our community, and these things cannot be ignored,” says Sweaney. “This race is our very small way of showing the victims that we believe them, we support them, and we have been there, too.”

 WIL is already planning this fall’s race, and hopes to get even more participation and donations for the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands.

A local family helps fight for sexual assault victims by running together in the race.

A piece of UofSC history gets new life at the alumni oyster roast

Mike Owens, a 1973 University of South Carolina School of Law graduate loves to do woodwork. After more than 20 years in the Navy as a Judge Advocate General’s Corps Officer, and years as a private practice attorney, Owens says his hobby is just something to keep him out of trouble.
The Charleston native is best known for his handcrafted wooden pens, traveling to craft shows around the state selling the masterpieces. But one masterpiece in particular–an oyster knife–Owens has donated to the place that he says helped him get his start and “buttered his bread.”
The idea to make an oyster knife came after Owens received his invitation to the School of Law’s Annual Alumni Oyster Roast in Charleston. He enlisted the help of another skilled craftsman and friend Jerry Hucks, a knife maker. The two used their skills to manufacture a knife any oyster-shucker would be pleased to use.
What makes the knife even more special is that the wood used to create the handle is from a tree that used to stand on the Historic Horseshoe. In 2011 lightning struck one of the Horseshoe’s oldest trees. The university tried to save the tree, but it was split down the middle, causing a safety hazard. Owens received word from a relative that the tree was going to be taken down. After the university arborist agreed to give him some of the wood, Owens says he returned home to Charleston with a “pickup truck’s worth” of UofSC history.
“I’ve made thousands of gamecock pens out of that wood. People really love it.”
After Hucks and Owens finished making two knives it was time to decide who would get to keep them. Owens says he gave one to his sister, and called the law school about the second.
At this year’s Alumni Oyster Roast—held on Thursday, Feb. 23 (RSVP here)—one lucky attendee will get to take the unique knife home. Guests are asked to bring their business cards and place them in a basket at the registration table. A random drawing will determine the winner.  
For Owens, he says donating the knife is no big deal. He’s just glad that he can give a little history back to the place that made him a success.

Mock Trial wins TYLA Regionals for third straight year

(l to r) Matt Abee, Colin Spangler, Creasie Parrott and Brett Bayne.

Congratulations to the University of South Carolina School of Law Mock Trial team, who—for the third time in a row—won the regional round of the Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition on Feb. 11, 2017. 

The team included third-year student Colin Spangler and second-year student Creasie Parrott, along with coaches Brett Bayne,  Matt Abee, and Kinli Abee. They will be returning to the national competition in Fort Worth in March.

Pro Bono wants YOU to tell us why you love being a lawyer!

From Pride and Prejudice to The Notebook, the world has witnessed many timeless love stories, but  have they heard yours? Tell us why YOU love being a lawyer! Send your response using the template “I love being a lawyer because…” to Pamela Robinson at Your answers will be compiled and displayed in the School of Law lobby for students to read and feel inspired by this Valentine’s Day!