2014 grad argues before state’s highest court



Many law students dream of someday arguing a case before the state’s highest court. None expect it to happen during their first year of practice. But this past February, that’s exactly what Perry MacLennan did: argue a case before the South Carolina Supreme Court – just after being sworn into the Bar.

MacLennan graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in May 2014, took the bar exam in July and was sworn in that fall. In November, he was named an associate in Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s Greenville office, where he focuses his practice on business, commercial and construction litigation, helping individuals and business with breach of contract and payment disputes. Almost immediately, he began working on a case that would be presented before the state Supreme Court involving enforceability of an arbitration clause in a contract. “The lawyers I work with thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” MacLennan said. “When they were in my shoes, the more senior partners at the firm went out of their way to give them real experiences quickly.”

MacLennan assisted on the case as a law clerk, so he was already familiar with it, but he had a considerable amount of catching up to do. “The case had already been through the trial court and the court of appeals by the time I started working on it,” he said. Leading up to the February court date, MacLennan practiced his argument many times with his colleagues. “I owe a debt of gratitude to them, as well as my mentors at the firm, for giving me the confidence and encouragement that I needed to be effective,” he said.

At the Supreme Court, MacLennan was given just 15 minutes to make his case before the justices, and most of his time was spent in a back-and-forth Q&A, requiring a lot of thinking on his feet. “The justices don’t give you the time to make a pre-rehearsed speech,” he said. “Of course I was nervous, but I felt a measure of comfort thanks in large part to Judge Dennis Shedd’s Fourth Circuit Practice class at USC Law.”

MacLennan took Shedd’s class as a 3L, where he argued in front of a judge from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on a weekly basis. “I thought about my experiences in that class often during the week leading up to my argument,” he said.

Just weeks after hearing the case, the S.C. Supreme Court dismissed it as improvidently granted, meaning the appeal was denied, which was the result that MacLennan was seeking. “I was happy for our client because it was a long road to get to that point,” he said.

MacLennan’s experience at the Supreme Court taught him to see cases from a different perspective – the view from the bench. “Appellate court decisions have a profound impact on the laws of this state,” he said. “I found it helpful to think about the future ramifications of my argument and how a decision in my favor could impact future litigants. I certainly hope that I find my way back to the Supreme Court and take these lessons with me.”


@UofSCLaw celebrates 50th volume of the ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal

SavetheDateCoverWebThe ABA Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Journal, which boasts the nation’s second largest circulation for a scholarly legal journal, published its 50th volume this spring. It is also celebrating 25 years of calling the University of South Carolina School of Law its home. The pride and enthusiasm shown by the student editorial board demonstrates the kind of passion that has made the School of Law “the best place to house the Journal for the past 25 years,” according to Professor Amy Milligan, who is also the current resident editor and a Journal alumna.

“With 22,000 subscribers, a lot of practitioners read and use our work. The challenge becomes making sure that we always deliver the best product possible, and our students meet that challenge issue after issue,” said Milligan.

Since 1991, the Journal has been one of the primary vehicles of peer-reviewed scholarship and a jewel of membership for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law (RPTE). 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.

“The professional editorial board functions as a kind of a safety valve for authors because it allows for editing from different perspectives, some of which come from the top practitioners in the field,” said Professor Alan Medlin, who was instrumental in bringing the Journal to the School of Law and served as professional editor-in-chief during its first years. “This collaboration helps us produce the highest quality academic publication that’s focused on the ABA’s particular membership.”

For students, the symbiotic relationship has been instrumental to their learning and development, allowing them to get actively involved with the latest issues in practice, while affording them invaluable networking opportunities. The environment around the Journal exudes undeniable comradery and support, as students work together for many hours per week to sharpen their skills and, most importantly, provide useful material that upholds the ethics and standards of the ABA.

According to Lauren Patterson, the editor-in-chief of the student board for the 50th volume, “The ABA’s decision to place the Journal here, thanks to Professor Medlin, has opened the door for our Journal members to work with some of the top lawyers in the fields of property and probate law. Through this experience, our members learn about the cutting issues in these legal fields as well as crucial writing and editing skills. The feedback provided by our professional editorial board is immeasurably helpful in producing a great article. It teaches me and the other Journal members how to be an effective writer, which is essential knowledge for any lawyer.”

“To have a partnership with such a highly respected legal organization is invaluable in so many intangible ways, and it also says a lot about the students of our school,” said Medlin. “I have been told time and again by ABA officers that they’re very proud of what our students do. The mutual benefits of this relationship come from hard work and a great product. I’m certainly grateful for the support and the acknowledgments of our accomplishments. It’s just hard to believe it’s been 25 years.”

Topping-off ceremony marks another milestone

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0056On Thursday, July 9, a little more than nine months after first breaking ground, the University of South Carolina School of Law celebrated a major milestone in the construction of its new home: the topping-off ceremony. Faculty, staff, university trustees and distinguished alumni gathered to watch as the final piece of steel forming the structural framework of the building was lifted into place by construction crews.

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0005School of Law Dean Robert Wilcox said seeing the completion of this phase of construction is a reminder of how the school promises to further transform law education at the university.

“Already the building is transforming the Gervais Street corridor. When finished, it will just as surely open new opportunities for our students to study law in the best possible environment,” he said. “We are incredibly excited to see the project reach this milestone toward completion.”

20150709_Topping Off Ceremony_0026University President Harris Pastides praised the dedication of Gilbane Construction’s crew in reaching the milestone. “It’s been fascinating for all of us to watch USC’s new School of Law’s structural rise,” he said. “Hard hats off to these tenacious workers who, even during one of the hottest summers on record, have provided the expertise needed to get each steel beam in place.” 

Over the next 18 months, the building will begin to come to life as its offices, classrooms, courtrooms, bookstore, library, café, commons area and courtyard take shape. Completion is expected by the School of Law’s 150th anniversary in the fall of 2017.

In keeping with a centuries-old Scandinavian tradition, when the highest beam of a building is hoisted into place, a tree is raised along with it to symbolize the bringing of life to the new structure. The Leyland cypress raised at the School of Law’s ceremony will be removed from the beam and planted on the grounds of the new building. Because the cypress is a symbol of durability and longevity, it will serve as a living reminder of the School of Law’s long tradition of contributions to the state, the nation and the world.

Watch time-lapse videos showing the progress so far:




Rising 3L receives coveted ABA clerkship

JOSEPH, CAMEO-DIAMOND 619__154-1007Cameo Joseph, a rising third-year student at the University of South Carolina School of Law, was selected to participate in the American Bar Association Business Law Section Diversity Clerkship Program. The elite program accepts fewer than 10 students each year from applicants across the country, and Joseph is the second consecutive student from the School of Law to receive one of its clerkships.

A Greenville native, Joseph graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Language and International Health (Spanish). She began her Diversity Clerkship on June 22 with the Hon. Clifton Newman, a circuit court judge with the South Carolina Judicial Department in Columbia. She has a strong interest in business law and believes this clerkship will help her decide in which area she will focus her practice after graduation. “I learn so much from Judge Newman each day. He’s brilliant and has proved to be a great mentor,” Joseph said. “I’m honored to have this chance to experience business law from a judge’s perspective and to be able take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to practical situations.”

Tommy Preston, an associate at Nexsen Pruet and a 2011 alum of the School of Law, encouraged Joseph to apply for the clerkship. “Tommy became one of my mentors during my first year of law school,” she said. “He is heavily involved with the ABA, including the Young Lawyers Division and the Business Law Section, and his encouragement meant a lot to me.”

“This program is very prestigious, and I thought Cameo had what it takes to compete with applicants from around the country,” Preston said. “She has a great opportunity to get more exposure to business law while building a network that hopefully will result in her getting a great job upon graduation.”

“Having two USC students receive clerkships in consecutive years shows the national quality of our law school and its students,” he said.

The ABA Business Law Section sponsors the clerkship program to encourage participation in business law by students who are minorities, female or LGBT, or who have overcome social, economic or physical disadvantages to attend law school. Students are placed in clerkships with business court judges in various locations, and they participate in researching cases, drafting memoranda and opinions, observing trials and networking with attorneys and judges.

Amanda Reasoner, a 2015 graduate of the School of Law, was a 2014 Diversity Clerk. She worked with the Hon. Donald F. Parsons, Jr., in Wilmington, Del.