UofSC Law welcomes media to tour new law school building

Photo: Gerry Melendez, The State Newspaper

On May 16, the University of South Carolina School of Law welcomed local media into their new home on Senate Street. The $80 million building will hold classes beginning on May 29 for the summer session. Home to two functioning courtrooms, a state-of-the-art library, a beautiful interior courtyard and relaxing student commons, the new School of Law looks to join the legal corridor off of Gervais Street in downtown Columbia.

Various media outlets have taken notice of the new building:

WLTX: http://uofsclaw.us/2qtjjXn

WACH FOX: http://uofsclaw.us/2qs9s4g

National Jurist: http://uofsclaw.us/2qv1Qxb

The State Newspaper: http://uofsclaw.us/2reZfZN and http://uofsclaw.us/2ruPz9L

The Post and Courier: http://uofsclaw.us/2rxdol5

SC Bar Foundation: http://uofsclaw.us/2rqBdHD

Student Media: http://uofsclaw.us/2reR67B

Columbia Regional Business Report: http://uofsclaw.us/2q04h7q

The Daily Gamecock: http://uofsclaw.us/2ruNtHW

Midlands Biz: http://uofsclaw.us/2pPhrJh

School of Law launches new website

In addition to moving into its new home in May 2017, the University of South Carolina School of Law has a new home on the Internet. But don’t worry. You can still find it at http://law.sc.edu.
The entirely revamped website launched on May 16, and features a new modern layout that has a responsive design, so it looks good on any platform, from desktop to tablet to mobile phone. The new architecture was designed to be more intuitive, and make it easier for users to find what they are looking for.  
One of the most notable changes is that the website is divided into two parts. 
The first part is aimed at prospective students and faculty candidates. The website is arguably the biggest marketing tool the School of Law has to attract new students and faculty, and the language and content on the pages have been reworked to do just that—share the many wonderful reasons to consider South Carolina Law.  These are the first pages that visitors will see.
The second part includes “internal-facing” pages, which are aimed at current students, faculty, and staff. These pages can be accessed by going to the “My Law School” link at the very bottom of the left-side navigation menu.
This section includes more in-depth information about academic programs, as well as other resources that are considered more internal, such as links to Self-Service Carolina, faculty by-laws, the student hand book, financial aid info, etc. Some of these pages are already in the content management system, while others link back to the old site.  Before long, all of the content will be in the CMS.
We hope you like it, and invite you to take a look around.

Elliot Condon receives prestigious scholarship

Emily “Elliot” Condon, a second-year law student, was selected as the 2017 recipient of the Benjamin M. Mabry Scholarship in May 2017.

The Benjamin M. Mabry Scholarship is given annually to a law student from the USC School of Law who is interested in the practice of employment and labor law and demonstrates leadership and academic potential.

Thomas R. Haggard wins prestigious award

Thomas R. Haggard, distinguished Professor Emeritus of Law, was named recipient of the section’s 2017 Distinguished Lawyer Award in May 2017.

The Employment and Labor Law Distinguished Lawyer Award is presented annually to an individual nominated and selected by his or her professional peers for meritorious service to employment and labor law practice in the state of South Carolina.

Marlene Johnson-Moore serves her country through Presidential Management Fellows Program

Marlene Johnson-Moore graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2015.

It was before her time at law school that Marlene Johnson-Moore knew she wanted to help people. Now, with a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, the 2015 alumna serves as a part of the Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF). It’s a job she says she was prepared for, with the help of the School of Law.

Beginning in 1977, PMF sought to create opportunities for graduate students to get engaging federal work experience. Every year, students apply for the program to prove they are the outstanding type of candidate that the PMF program seeks. In 2016, Johnson-Moore was announced as a finalist for the program and became a Fellow.

“Being selected as a PMF was extremely meaningful for me because when I began law school I already had the idea that I wanted to take a non-traditional path into the legal profession by working in government at either the state or federal level,” Johnson-Moore said.

Through the PMF program, finalists are trained as leaders in government to seek out and create change. Finalists are expected to embrace challenges and serve their country through their work. Johnson-Moore was appointed as a Fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The government, at all levels, often oversees broad but critical issues such as education, food, housing, healthcare, and other vital matters that affect every family and individual,” Johnson-Moore said. “Therefore, it is important that conscientious, fair, and compassionate people who understand the importance and value of public service become actively engaged at all levels of government.”

Johnson-Moore says her social and political consciousness was nurtured at the School of Law, both in the classroom and through extracurricular experience, providing her with opportunities to engage and interact with the diverse student body, the community, and local government participants.

“From Career Services workshops, to fundamental and skills-based legal courses, to meaningful volunteer participation; the breadth of my time and education at the School of Law prepared me well for my experience as a Presidential Management Fellow,” Johnson-Moore said.

The PMF program is not the end of the line for her, though. Through the program, she says she will be able to make connections and seek career advancement across all facets of government. These unique, unparalleled opportunities are what make the PMF program such a significant catalyst for well-qualified graduate students seeking careers in policy, politics, or government leadership.  

“Now, as a Fellow, I can continue to advance professionally, while serving my country and making meaningful contributions to local communities, families, and individual citizens.” Johnson-Moore said.

To apply for the Presidential Management Fellows Program, go to https://www.pmf.gov/become-a-pmf/2017-application.aspx.

2017 Compleat Lawyer awards honor successful alumni

The 2017 Compleat Lawyer recipients stand with winners from the previous years.

The 25th class of Compleat Lawyers were honored at the 2017 ceremony on April 25. 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:
Joy S. Goodwin (1977) is the retired Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee.

Ken H. Lester (1966) is partner at Lester & Hendrix, a family law firm in Columbia.

David Horton Wilkins (1971) is a partner and chair of the Public Policy and International Law Group at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP in Greenville.

Gold medallions are award to lawyers who have practiced for 16 to 30 years. Congratulations to this year’s winners:
Theile Branham McVey (2000)
James Emerson Smith Jr.
Elizabeth H. Warner

Silver medallions are award to lawyers who have practiced for 15 years or less. Congratulations to this year’s winners:
Emma Dean Thomas (2006)
Cody Tarlton Mitchell
Tommy D. Preston Jr. (2011)

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

Become a member of the newest society, Dean’s Circle

Dean Wilcox invites alumni and friends of the law school to become members of the Dean’s Circle. This new society recognizes any donor who gives $1,000 or more annually.

This is a historic year for the School of Law with the opening of our new home between Gervais and Senate streets and our 150th Anniversary.  Our success continues as third-year students engage in more experiential learning programs than ever before, better preparing them for practice, such as the four-week Coastal Law Field Lab course this summer in Charleston. In addition, USC Law was named one of top 10 law schools for producing influential judges. Now, the Dean invites you to be part of this success with your gift to become a member of the Dean’s Circle.

This group of donors help make a difference in the future of the School of Law by providing scholarship support for deserving students, making possible their legal education at South Carolina; support for Moot Court and Mock Trial teams to attend regional and national competitions; and contributing to experiential education programs for our students, including clinics, externships, and simulation courses.

Members of the Dean’s Circle will receive exclusive invitations to events and will be recognized in the annual Honor Roll of Donors.

Will you join in the support of the School of Law with your Dean’s Circle gift today?

Law library begins move to new building

The Coleman Karesh Law Library will be the first to begin the move to the new building on Gervais and Senate streets. In preparation for the move, the library will close at noon on Monday, May 8, when book movers arrive to begin the transport of the library’s collection to the new building. 

The library will remain closed much of the month of May, but will offer email reference services during regular business hours, with the exception of Thursday-Friday, May 18 and 19, the days of the office move. You are also welcome to send reference requests to the reference desk, or to individual reference librarians.
Interlibrary Loan requests will be accepted until Friday, April 14, for loaned books and copy requests until Friday, May 5th. The law library anticipates reopening in the new facility by Tuesday, May 30. Thank you for your patience as we move into our new home.

Student volunteers assist community with tax returns

Student volunteers help prepare and file tax returns for low-income residents at no cost.

Even University of South Carolina School of Law tax professor and expert Tessa Davis admits tax season can be an intimidating and stressful time. That’s why she says the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is such an important service to the community.
VITA is an IRS managed program that provides free tax preparation by certified volunteers for low income persons as well as senior citizens. The School of Law has participated in VITA for 25 years, offering tax assistance to the public twice a week each February and March. This year, 17 law student volunteers prepared 122 tax returns and filed 98. In addition to South Carolina returns, they also prepared returns for individuals from Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.
“VITA is a great way that we, as a state institution, can model the importance of public service,” says Davis. “It also gives us an opportunity to interact with our community.”
The service is part of the school’s Pro Bono Program, which encourages law students to use the skills they’ve learned to give back. But Davis points out that the clients are not the only ones who benefit from the program. Law students are able to develop critical skills they will use in practice, regardless of whether they go into tax law.
““Taking a theoretical concept they are learning about in school and using it in real life is something that complements what we can teach them in a classroom setting,” says Davis.
Third-year student Anthony J. McCollum agrees.  He participated in VITA all three years of law school and says the lessons he learned there will help him after graduation when he begins work in the Fifth Circuit solicitor’s office.
“VITA enriched my experience at UofSC Law by giving me the opportunity to help the community while also utilizing the skills I acquired in the classroom, such as critical thinking and logical problem solving.”
Davis says getting involved with VITA also increased her knowledge of the subject, pushing her to brush up on rules she doesn’t use on a regular basis.
“I think it’s important for students to know that the professors continue to learn. We believe you never truly stop learning, and VITA has been a great way for me to grow in a subject I really care about,” says Davis.
The process of volunteering is a learning opportunity in and of itself, as students must pass a certification and ethics test generated by the Internal Revenue Service. Davis says much like the goal of law school, VITA doesn’t expect students to have every answer or law memorized, but to have the tools and understanding to know how to find the answer.
The School of Law has seen the demand for this service grow each year, and more students are encouraged to volunteer in order to meet the need. Davis points out how pleased she was to see students of varying levels of tax law understanding participating, getting experience, and giving back.
“Whatever area of law you plan to practice; you can never get enough experience interacting with clients. It’s an opportunity that will only help students—even the ones who went screaming from tax law.”

First law student to compete in national competition represents School of Law

The best way to beat a hacker is to think like a hacker. And as Richard Bryant discovered, it also helps to know how to think like a lawyer.

Bryant, a third-year student at the University of South Carolina School of Law, became the first-ever law student to be accepted to compete in the Society of Automotive Engineers Battelle CyberAuto Challenge. In July 2016, he—along with automotive and government engineers, ethical “white hat” hackers, and other students from across the globe and from many disciplines—spent a week working on ways to make today’s cars safer by hacking into and exposing potential vulnerabilities in their computer systems.

He was encouraged to apply for the competition by law professor Bryant Walker Smith, who is a widely-known expert in transportation law, specifically in automation and self-driving cars. Smith has been involved in the competition for several years and says it hones important skills that are essential to future lawyers.

“The practice of law involves much more than just law. Lawyers need both technical knowledge and technical humility. And they need to be able to translate technical and legal concepts in a way that lawyers, engineers, and the public at large can understand,” says Smith. “After getting to know him in class, I knew Richard would excel in the competition and would represent the School of Law well.”

“Although I have not had any formal technical education—my bachelor’s degree is in economics—the intersection of technology and law had been a growing interest of mine since starting law school, and the chance to meet and work with some of the country’s finest engineers, educators and up-and-coming students was a major draw,” says Bryant, who also acknowledged that his approach to the problems was much different from his fellow teammates and competitors.

“Being the first law student to participate was a big challenge. Trying to keep a legal perspective in an event that is designed to develop engineering skills wasn’t easy, but the skills I learned at UofSC Law, such as spotting issues and parsing data for key facts, started to become second nature.”

At the end of the week-long competition, Bryant again used his legal knowledge to deliver a presentation about responsible disclosure, outlining the legal ramifications of hacking.

“Bryant gave an outstanding talk to everyone involved—participants, organizers, and other attendees—on his reflections from the perspective of a law student. He did an excellent job of appropriately qualifying his remarks and targeting them to such a diverse audience,” says Smith.

It’s an opportunity Bryant recalls as invaluable and the culmination of his law school education. He says it taught him more about a lawyer’s job to interpret between groups of people, especially taking highly-technically information and turning it into something much more understandable.

“Throughout law school I’ve been told, ‘You’re going to have to get your hands dirty to get the job done,’ and that’s exactly what I took away from the CyberAuto Challenge,” Bryant says. “It was a great experience, and I’m so thankful to Professor Smith for thinking of me, and recommending that I apply.”

The 2017 SAE Battelle CyberAuto Challenge will be held in August. A similar competition, CyberTruck, will be held for the first time this year. Including a dedicated military component and a longer vehicle assessment period, the competition also requires participants to have a higher technical background.

For more information about how to get involved, contact Professor Smith.