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.

Students compete in ABA’s client counseling project

Two teams of University of South Carolina School of Law students will travel to Charlotte to compete in the regional level of the 2017 American Bar Association Client Counseling CompetitionSecond-year student Lindsay Richardson and third-year student Aleia Hornsby, along with second-year student Zachary Kern and third-year student Joshua Giancola will represent the university next month.

To qualify, the two teams beat out six other teams of two in a competition held on campus. The competition tested students on fundamental skills need to be a successful attorney; specifically, the ability to interview, counsel, and support a client through a legal issue. Alumni, faculty, and staff from the School of Law participated as judges and actor “clients.”

This year’s competition topic was privacy law. Students dealt with a case involving neighbors and drones, a data breach, and an online photo.

If the two teams place at the regional level, they will continue to a national competition.

Two law students selected as 2016 Diversity Scholars

Aleia Hornsby

Lindsay Richardson

Two University of South Carolina School of Law students have been named 2016 Nexsen Pruet Diversity Scholars.Third-year student Aleia Hornsby and second-year student Lindsey Richardson were two of the three scholars selected. Each year, the firm awards scholarships to minority law students who are pursuing careers in North or South Carolina.

Hornsby serves as a member of the Honor Council, and was previously a Nexsen Pruet summer associate. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Spelman College, and went on to get a Master’s of Public Administration from Auburn University, before becoming a student at the School of Law.

Richardson was also a summer associate at Nexsen Pruet. She received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, as well as in Business Administration with a focus in management and marketing at the University of South Carolina. Richardson was also elected the student body president of the university in 2014.

Nexsen Pruet has awarded 38 scholarships exceeding $100,000 since the program’s inception in 2008. To date, 13 of those scholarships were awarded to University of South Carolina School of Law students.


Obama issues gender equity-in-pay action


Recently, President Obama issued an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report employee salary information to the federal government in an effort to ensure gender equality in pay.  However, our next guest says that the reporting burden on the small business community may pale in comparison to the litigation burden.

Mike Switzer interviews Joseph Seiner, an employment law professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. <Read More>

Law in context: A new approach to LRAW

The first class of students in the new LRAW program, enjoyed the new format.

The first class of students in the new LRAW program, enjoyed the new format.

Practice makes perfect – at least that’s part of the theory behind the ABA’s emphasis on skills training that has law schools across the country taking a closer look at how they prepare their students for the practice of law.  At The University of South Carolina School of Law, we take very seriously our mission of equipping our graduates with the skills they need to become excellent practicing lawyers.

In 2011, the Law School unveiled its new Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing Program (LRAW) designed to provide our students with the skills they will need to succeed in law school and in the practice of law. Law students arrive on their first day of law school with the research, writing, and analytical skills they developed in their undergraduate study, work, and life experiences.  Many, however, find the study of law more challenging than expected because their former methods of researching, writing, and analysis did not fully prepare them for the rigors of finding, analyzing, and writing about the law.

Legal Research, Analysis & Writing (LRAW) is a  component of the first year law school curriculum that integrates essential skills necessary for the practice of law. The LRAW program is an intensive six-credit hour program divided over the fall and spring semesters of the first year. In the fall semester (LRAW-1), students learn the basic methods of researching state statutes and case law, how to analyze those statutes and cases, identify and understand legal rules derived from those authorities, and apply those rules to make informed predictions about legal issues. Students also learn how to convey legal analysis clearly and concisely and how to draft a legal prediction in the form of a memorandum of law.

In the spring semester (LRAW-2), students build on their basic research, analytical, and writing skills to learn how to research federal statutes and cases, regulations, and secondary sources. Students also learn the skills of persuasive writing and argumentation through the preparation of an appellate brief and oral argument.

Students and LRAW faculty alike are excited about the new program, and the students are already feeling more confident about their research and writing skills.  In a 2012 Law School Survey of Student Engagement, first year students indicated that their experiences at USC School of Law positively contributed to their abilities to write clearly and effectively and to develop their legal research skills.  Students are already benefitting from the impact of the integrated program, both inside and outside the classroom.  Here are some things our students are saying about their LRAW experiences:

PENDARVIS,-MARVIN-224__124-1002-S-webI was always told I was a good writer, but it was not until I came to law school that I realized legal writing was different.  I have learned that the best legal writing is concise, uses active voice, and is fluid throughout.  My writing has become better by incorporating all three into my work. Additionally, my research skills have become better.  Because the program now puts an emphasis on the research component, I feel our class really benefited.  I was  able to employ those skills throughout the summer, and found myself going back to basic research strategies I learned in class that allowed me to find what I needed and saved on costs. My improved writing has also been noticed during my summer clerkship.  A partner commented on how impressed he was with my discussion of the information in one memo.  I drafted another memo that was good enough to be used in a summary judgment motion.  I think it is neat that I am able to write a legal memo in one or two days.  I would have never fathomed that before this class.” – Marvin Pendarvis, third-year law student at USC Law.


KEITH,-KARA-182__124-1002-S-webLRAW definitely helped me in my summer clerkship.  My firm only uses Westlaw, but I know how to navigate it well, thanks to the class.  I absolutely have used everything I learned,  including the Bluebook and citations.  I am very confident in how I write now, and the attorneys at my firm used my memos for their court documents.” – Kara Keith, third-year law student at USC Law.



HANCOCK,-DANIEL-226__124-1002-M-web“(In the summer of 2011), I worked at Fort Jackson with several fellow Captains who were working as Army prosecutors. I had my first opportunities to draft first a motion and a motion response for two supervisors.  Each supervisor was impressed by my work and the skills I had learned this past academic year in 1L LRAW classes.  Soon thereafter, I also perceived a shift in their attitudes toward “the intern” as a result of my success using the writing and research skills taught in LRAW, and I  began receiving more assignments to draft documents and less supervision in putting those products together before final review.” – Daniel Hancock, third-year law student at USC Law.

This story was contributed by Assistant Directors of Legal Writing Jan Baker andAmy Milligan, and Assistant Director of Legal Research Instruction Terrye Conroy.