It was standing room only as more than 400 law alumni, faculty and students gathered at the corner of Bull and Senate streets on Friday (Sept. 26) to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new home for the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.
“I know that if you’d not seen this day with your own eyes, you wouldn’t believe it. That’s why you’re here,” said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, acknowledging the long journey that led to today’s momentous occasion.
He later added, “I would not be overly bold if I said that no college at the University of South Carolina has had a greater impact on the Palmetto State than our School of Law.”
Among the other speakers were School of Law alumni:
- School of Law Dean Robert M. Wilcox
- University Board of Trustees Chairman Eugene P. Warr Jr.
- Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine
- The Honorable Jean H. Toal, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina
- The Honorable Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator
Each in turn discussed the importance of the new building, and how the transformative work that goes inside will spill over and positively impact our state, our nation, and the world.
“As Chief Justice of South Carolina, it’s not too much to say that South Carolina has made a major new investment in the creation of a just society for its citizens,” said Justice Toal. “This is where the lawyers of the future in whose hands the rule of law will be crafted. This is where they will be trained.”
“What comes out of this building is the most important aspect of why we’re here today, and I’m here to tell you that what’s going to come out of this building in the future is going to be some of the best lawyers, and judges in the entire United States,” said Senator Graham. “This to me, is one of the most important things I can do in my time in politics is to be a partner with the University of South Carolina to build a law school that will tell the world that South Carolina cares about the rule of law.”
When completed in 2017, the new School of Law building, bounded by Gervais, Bull, Senate and Pickens streets, will anchor a legal corridor along the north edge of campus that will comprise the school’s Children’s Law Center, the National Advocacy Center and South Carolina’s Statehouse and Supreme Court.
Inspired by 19th-century South Carolina architect Robert Mills, the three-story building will present a stately facade, while providing students with a learning environment that is modern, flexible and technologically advanced and that encourages collaboration and meets future needs.
“From its classical exterior to its flexible interior, we’ve been so mindful of every aspect of the design of this building, ensuring it will continue to shape legal education and serve our state for generations to come,” said Wilcox.
The groundbreaking on the new building comes at an exciting juncture in the School of Law’s history. The state’s flagship law school is hiring new faculty, expanding its curriculum and refining its focus. Student success is evident through rising bar passage rates (first-time bar passage of nearly 90 percent in 2013) and job placement, with the school in the top 16 percent nationally in employment the last two years. And that has had a positive effect on the school’s ranking, which has climbed 16 spots since 2011 to 93 in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.