Students complete Konduros Leadership Development Program

Students stand with Jim Konduros after accepting their certificates of completion.

In March, 16 University of South Carolina School of Law students received their certificates of completion from the Konduros Leadership Development Program. The intensive and highly selective program gives students a unique opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills that are in addition to their legal education.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley addresses the students and their family and friends.

“We’re committed to providing a cadre of future leaders here at UofSC Law. The program furthers leadership development by equipping students with the creativity, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills necessary to assume leadership positions within an increasingly complex and evolving environment,” says Jill Kunkle, the associate director of career services who manages the program.

Over the course of eleven weeks, students selected to participate learned about the nature of leadership; how to develop their leadership, interpersonal and communication strategies; and the importance of ethics in leadership. The program culminated with each group presenting a plan to help solve a societal issue.

One group worked on a project that raised public awareness and assistance on the expungement process. Another worked on ways to overcome barriers to practicing law by proposing a grant program to help law students with bar preparation and application fees. The third group focused on better ways to help veteran facing legal issues in South Carolina, surveying more than 30 law schools across the nation on how to establish a veteran’s legal clinic.

Students say the experience was invaluable to their law school career, pushing beyond the classroom into real world experiences.
 
“This program allows us to take the knowledge and skill sets we’ve learned in law school and apply them to a situation or problem in the community,” says third-year student Matthew Zackon. “For me, it stressed the importance of giving back to different demographics in society who cannot afford legal services. From my experiences in this program, I know I will be devoting my time post-graduation to veterans who are in need of free legal services.”
 
Throughout the program, in addition to hearing from UofSC faculty and staff, students also learned from prominent leaders of the legal community, including:

  • Lindsay Joyner, Associate, Gallivan, White & Boyd, PA; President-Elect, SC Bar Young Lawyers Division
  • William Witherspoon, Sr. Litigation Counsel, U. S. Attorney’s Office; President, SC Bar
  • Michael Wright, Associate, Savage Royall & Sheheen, LLP; President, Kershaw County Bar
  • Kathy Helms, Office Managing Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins
  • Tommy Preston, Director, National Strategy & Engagement at The Boeing Company
  • Brad Stratton, Director, Center of Business Communication at Unniversity of South Carolina
  • Luis Sierra, Leadership Coach, USC Leadership and Service Center
  • Nathan Strong, Director of Organizational and Professional Development at the University of South Carolina
  • Charles Appleby, Chief Counsel, SC House Legislative Oversight Committee
  • Salley Elliott, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, SC Department of Corrections
  • Allison Sullivan, Partner, Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, LLC

The sessions were led by:

  • Duncan Alford, associate dean for the law library and professor of law
  • Robert Bockman, senior legal writing instructor
  • Emma Dean, chief counsel, SC House Judiciary Committee
  • Henry Deneen, executive director of the Center for Global Strategies and of counsel for Murphy & Grantland, PA
  • Susan Kuo, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and professor of law

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley (1967) was the keynote speaker at this year’s certificate ceremony. He reflected on the importance of leadership, especially during two of the most difficult times of his forty-plus year tenure as mayor: Hurricane Hugo and the Charleston Shooting. It was those moments, he said, that made him the leader he is today.

Congratulations to the 2017 Konduros Leaders:

Steven Bailey
Hazel Bridges
Amy Christenbury
 Jordan Cox
Chance Cuellar
Anthony D’Elia
Mannar Hanna
Lauren Lavin
Lindsay Lee
Christopher Mathis
Anthony McCollum
Jon-Michael McNew
Zachary Porfiris
J. Hunter Reams
Jalisa Stevens
Matthew Zackon
 
The Konduros Leadership Development Program was established in 2015 by Jim Konduros, a 1954 law alumnus, who made a generous gift to the School of Law to provide students with scholarships, fellowships and leadership development. Konduros credits the law school for helping him develop the strategic thinking and counseling skills that guided him through a rewarding career, and created the program as a way to give back to current and future students at the School of Law.

Academic journals each select new student editors-in-chief

The University of South Carolina School of Law is proud to announce the newly-elected editors-in-chief of the school’s four academic journals.

Trey Harrison: Editor-in-Chief of the ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal

When it comes to adding more work to an already difficult law school schedule, second-year student Trey Harrison says helping build a stronger community makes it all worth it. The newly-elected editor-in-chief got his start with the Property Journal as a first-year student, which helped him build a strong network of friends and refine his writing skills.

The Columbia native attended Presbyterian College, where he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in both history and political science. His long-term goal is to work as in-house counsel for a corporation, specifically an insurance company, such as South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, where he currently works.

If school, a job, and now a leadership position at the journal weren’t enough, Harrison also works with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and is an active member of the Student Bar Association.

Under his tenure, Harrison says he’s looking forward to two major milestones: the move to the new School of Law building, and the journal’s first symposium, scheduled for this November. Ultimately, he says he wants to give back to the journal, what it has given to him.

“We have great members, who are good at what they do, and it is my job to help them do their best. My goal is to continue the great work-product we have and to foster our great community atmosphere,” says Harrison.

The ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal is an official publication of the American Bar Association. The Journal is distributed triannually to law libraries and nearly 22,000 members of the ABA’s Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section. But it is the journal’s collaborative editing process between students and a national editorial board of professionals selected by the RPTE that makes it so unique. Professional editors are responsible for acquiring relevant and scholarly articles. These articles are then forwarded to student editors who format, edit, and verify all citations before going back to the professional editorial board for final approval and publication.

Meagan Allen:
Editor-in-Chief of the South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business

From small town to world-wide—that’s Meagan Allen’s dream. The Aynor, South Carolina, native aspires to practice international trade law. And now, she’s one step closer, after being elected editor-in-chief of the South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business.

The College of Charleston grad says it was the range of topics the journal covers that drew her to it originally. She graduated with a degree in political science and a concentration in politics, philosophy, and law, before coming to UofSC Law. When she accepted her membership to the journal as a first-year student, she didn’t think she’d ever become editor-in-chief.

“I was honestly a little surprised when I received the phone call from our faculty advisors offering me the position. There were five other outstanding candidates for EIC and, thus, the race was very competitive. However, I was both ecstatic and humbled to learn that the faculty advisors, as well as my peers, had enough faith in my vision for our journal to select me,” says Allen.

When Allen finds free time, she likes to spend it working with the School of Law’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. Her love for animals is wide-spread, but she has a special place in her heart for her five-year-old toy poodle, Lucy. Allen serves as a peer mentor to a group of first-year students. She is also musically talented, skilled in five instruments including piano, guitar, ukulele, and has even played the upright bass in a bluegrass band.

When it comes to the future of the SCJILB, Allen says it’s important to utilize the talent she has on her current editorial board, as well as the talent of incoming staff editors.

“I want to ensure that our Journal is a beacon of academic excellence and dedication to public service,” says Allen.

The South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business seeks to serve South Carolinians by creating a forum for discussion about how international law and business affects the state. In addition to the semi-annual journal, SCJILB engages professionals and scholars through its biennial symposia.

Catherine Ortmann:
Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law and Education

Catherine Ortmann feels right at home at USC Law after receiving her bachelor’s degree in history at the university. And coming from a family of educators, she feels just as “at home” at the Journal of Law and Education.

The Sumter native calls her decision to join the journal her “best choice.” When it came to her decision to run for EIC, she looked up to two mentors—outgoing editor-in-chief Michael Trask, and her attorney mentor Katharine Swinson, who was also in JLED. The journal’s former members set the bar high, but Ortmann says she knows her members will produce great work and help keep the journal moving in a positive direction.

When it comes to leadership style, Ortmann calls herself a “positive deviant,” saying she’ll do whatever it takes to make a difference and promote improvement in the projects and people around her.

Ortmann looks to be a force of change in all aspects of her life, holding many leadership positions outside of the classroom. She is the historian for Phi Delta Phi, and a member of the American Constitutional Society, as well as Women in Law student organizations. She works as a law clerk for the South Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee during the school year and serves as a mentor for the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi at the university. She continues to be involved in her church, Midtown Fellowship, and during the summers is a senior counselor at Palmetto Girls State.

Looking ahead, Ortmann says she’s exploring opportunities in education and employment law, but for now she’s focused on advancing the Journal, as well as building relationships with her members.

“As soon as I won, one of the other candidates who had run for EIC instantly contacted me and told me how proud she was of me. I think that really speaks to the quality of our members and the bond that we have all formed because of our membership,” says Ortmann.

The Journal of Law and Education is a quarterly publication featuring articles on all aspects of constitutional and civil law related to American education. JLE is published jointly in conjunction with the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law. After more than forty years in print and online, JLE continues to serve as an important resource for judges, lawyers, teachers, school administrators, and education practitioners. Subscriptions to JLE are distributed throughout the United States and reach more than 14 foreign countries.

Chelsea Evans:
Editor-in-Chief of the South Carolina Law Review

Chelsea Evans made history as the first African-American editor-in-chief of the South Carolina Law Review, and now that she’s won, she’s ready to get to work.

The North Myrtle Beach native graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in public health from the university. But it was a position performing policy research for Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, while still in undergraduate, that helped her see that attending law school would fulfill her dream of finding a career that would also suit her desire to serve.

Her new role is one that’s garnered a lot of attention, something she’s not always been comfortable with, but she’s eager to use the platform to inspires others.

“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,” says Evans.

In addition to the demands of the South Carolina Law Review, and her studies, she works as a research assistant and a member of the Pro Bono Board. She participates in other student organizations, including the Black Law Students Association, serves as a mentor to middle-school students in the Constitutional Scholars Pipeline Program, and is a judicial extern for U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs.

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. For now, when she gets a quiet moment, it’s spent with her friends and family, especially her younger sister Taylor, an undergraduate student at the university.

The South Carolina Law Review is the principal legal publication in South Carolina. It is also the oldest legal publication in the state, founded in 1948. The Law Review traces its roots to 1831, during the brief existence of the Carolina Bar Journal, which was published in Columbia, South Carolina prior to the Civil War. Today, the Law Review is the flagship legal publication at the University of South Carolina and is one of the most frequently cited legal journals in the country.

The Coastal Law Field Lab Named one of the “Hot Classes for the Summer”

“If spending the summer outside while still honing your legal skills and earning credit is more your style, check out the four-week Coastal Law Field Lab,” writes the National Jurist.

The Coastal Law Field Lab is a six-credit, field-based summer course hosted by the University of South Carolina School of Law in Charleston, SC. The field lab is open to law students across the country, and consists of three modules: Coastal Law, Climate Change and the Coast, and Coastal Energy Law. It is unlike any course you have ever taken in law school. About half of the course is spent in the classroom. The rest of the course takes place “in the field,” learning about important coastal, environmental, and energy law issues where they matter: on beaches and islands, in marshes, and at other sites emblematic of the environmental challenges in sustainable development. 

Twice a week, the class will visit properties that have been at the heart of important litigation or that illustrate high-profile issues. At the sites, students will meet with guest speakers who will provide unique insight into these problems. The speakers represent the range of professionals involved in the day-to-day of coastal law: state regulators, attorneys, geologists, ecologists, environmental representatives, and developers.

In addition, the field lab includes supplemental lectures on topics critical to good coastal lawyering such as coastal oceanography, environmental policy and economics, and alternative energy technology. The combination of legal coursework, interdisciplinary lectures, and eight issue-packed field labs will give you a comprehensive understanding of the coast, coastal issues, and the role that law and lawyers play in resolving those issues.

The field lab will take place from June 18th to July 15th. Applications are available at online, and are due by May 1, 2017, or until the seats are filled.

Former Tunisian president hosts forum on “Modern Constitution-Making”

Dr. Moncef Marzouki to speak as part of a panel on “Modern Constitution-Making.” Marzouki was Tunisia’s president from 2011 to 2014.

The University of South Carolina welcomes former Tunisian President Dr. Moncef Marzouki to campus this March as the 2017 Sonoco Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Moore School of Business. While in Columbia, Marzouki will conduct a series of forums and meetings organized in collaboration with the university’s Darla Moore School of Business, the  Walker Institute of International Area Studies, and the  Rule of Law Collaborative.   

On Wednesday, Mar. 22, a special event featuring Marzouki will be offered at the School of Law. Members of the public are invited to join students, alumni, faculty and staff of the law school for a forum titled, “Modern Constitution-Making.” The forum will focus on Tunisia’s efforts to engage in the region’s first constitution-making process outside of the influence of either a dictator or colonial power. It begins at 5:30 p.m. in the law school auditorium, and is free and open to the public.

Additional members of the panel include:

  • Hamid Khan, deputy director, Rule of Law Collaborative
  • Aparna Polavarapu, assistant professor of law
  • Wadie Said, professor of law
  • Joel Samuels, director, Rule of Law Collaborative

The law school event follows up on a public panel to be held the day before, Tuesday, Mar. 21, titled “The Hodges Forum on International Affairs, ‘The Jasmine Revolution and the Future of the Middle East.’” It will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Capstone House

Marzouki’s visit comes at a pivotal time, as a new U.S. administration shapes its international policies and approaches to the Middle East. Marzouki was elected president of Tunisia by the Constituent Assembly, a body elected to govern the country and draft a new constitution following Tunisia’s revolution in 2011. Also known as the “Jasmine Revolution,” Tunisia’s successful uprising was a seminal moment in Arab history, which helped ignite popular revolutions throughout the Middle East. A medical doctor, human rights activist and author of numerous works, he is credited with bringing governmental transparency and participative democracy to Tunisia and creating an environment where civil organizations could flourish.

Rule of Law Collaborative symposium focuses on police, community relations

January 2015 protest in Seattle. (Photo: Scott Lum via Flickr)

On April 7, the University of South Carolina Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) will host a symposium at the School of Law: Bridging the Divide: African-American Communities and Law Enforcement. The symposium looks to heal the relationship between communities and the officers that serve them, exploring whether restorative justice mechanisms, specifically Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, would help unify the two groups.

The ROLC welcomes experts from all areas of transitional justice to come together for an in-depth discussion from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The symposium will be broken into four sessions: Addressing the Root Causes, Comparative International and Domestic Initiatives, The Case for Restorative Justice, and From Rhetoric to Action—Restorative Justice in the United States.

National experts such as Fania Davis, co-founder and executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, and David Ragland, co-founder of the Truth-Telling Project in Ferguson, MO, will lead a conversation about practical application, such as how a restorative justice mechanism would operate alongside the federal justice system, and how much legitimacy those commissions would have in communities where trust is already low. International experts in restorative justice, including Yasmin Sooka, the current executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, will take their experiences and observations, and discuss the implications of adapting those practices in the United States.

The ROLC sees this symposium not as a one-time event, but as the launching pad for further discussion and exploration on this issue, which affects communities across our country. The goal is to turn conversation into practice, allowing the university to serve as a place where change begins.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

Team of students to compete in national cybersecurity competition

Elliott Barrow, Michael Brooks, Brooke Hiltbold, and Richard Bryant.

A team of four University of South Carolina School of Law students will travel to Washington D.C. on March 17 to compete in the Atlantic Council’s U.S. Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

The challenge is an annual cyber policy competition for students across the globe to compete in developing national security policy recommendations by tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe. The challenge looks beyond the crisis to see what policymakers would do after an attack.

First-year law student Brooke Hiltbold, second-year law students Elliott Barrow and Michael Brooks, along with third-year law student Bryant Richard created their own team and applied to be a part of the competition. After successfully answering a series of questions about cybersecurity, they were chosen to represent the School of Law. They recruited Assistant Professor Bryant Walker Smith as their coach. Smith is a nationally-recognized expert in the field of legal technology, specifically how it pertains to transportation.

The competition is open to students across all academic disciplines. The one-of-a-kind competition looks to challenge those who will be leading the future cyber security world. Student teams will confront a breach of national and international importance. Then they will compose policy recommendations, and justify their decision-making process. Teams will be judged on their consideration of the roles and implications for civilians, military, law enforcement, and private sector entities.

In addition to the competition, students will be able to attend several side events. Legal and international service professors, along with Barry Pavel, senior vice president, chair, and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council, will speak to students before the competition begins. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI, will give a keynote address during the first day of competition. Students will also have the chance to meet recruiters from companies such as CyberSec Jobs, the Department of Homeland Security, and Facebook. Teams will attend a presentation from Capitol Hill Staffers, a hacking demonstration, and a networking reception at Baker & McKenzie, overlooking the White House and the National Mall.

For teams who advance to the semifinals, a second day of competition will take place. This is the fifth year for the Atlantic Council’s U.S. Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge. 

The D.C. competition is just one of three that will take place world-wide. In April, a similar European cyber competition will be held in Geneva, and in September, Sydney, Australia will host the first-ever Asia-Pacific leg of the competition.

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.”