University of South Carolina School of Law

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University of South Carolina School of Law
Established 1867
School type Public
Endowment $80.4 million[1]
Parent endowment $425.2 million[2]
Dean Robert M. Wilcox
Location Columbia, SC, US
Enrollment 667
Faculty 90
USNWR ranking 94
ABA profile SC Law Profile

The University of South Carolina School of Law, also known as South Carolina Law or SC Law, is one of the professional schools of the University of South Carolina. South Carolina Law was founded in 1867 in Columbia, South Carolina and is the only public and non-profit law school in the state of South Carolina. The school has been accredited by the American Bar Association since 1925 and has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1924.[3] According to South Carolina's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 68.6% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[4]


The discussion of starting a law program began as early as 1810 when President Jonathan Maxcy recommended to the board of trustees of South Carolina College (as the University was then known) that the school establish a professorship of the law to lecture to the two higher classes. A resolution of the statehouse in 1823 requested the college to consider "the propriety and advantage of establishing a Professorship of Law in that institution, and to report to this house, at the next session, the manner in which such a Professorship may be established, so as to be most advantageous to the community, and least expensive to the State." The trustees replied that a professor should be hired, but that the courses should be offered only to graduates. With that, the matter ended.

When the modern University of South Carolina was formed from South Carolina College in December 1865, the act doing so also authorized the trustees to hire one or more persons to form classes to instruct on the law under such terms as the trustees should decide. In 1866, the act was amended to require the trustees to do so on the quickest possible terms.

In January 1867, the trustees offered Chancellor J.A. Inglis the position, but he declined. In 1868, the offer was next made to Col. A.C. Haskell who accepted and held the post until August 1868. The course of study included the various branches of common law and equity, commercial, international, and constitutional law. Although the program was meant to cover two years, many students completed it in one. A moot court was also overseen by the professor to train students in the details of actual practice. Four students started in the program, and two graduated in June 1868.

The program lapsed during the 1868-1869 academic year, but resumed the following term under the direction of the Hon. C.D. Melton. The program continued until it was shuttered following the death of a subsequent professor, Chief Justice Franklin J. Moses, in 1877.

The school resumed in 1884 under Col. Joseph Daniel Pope with a two-year program that again was often completed in one. Professor Pope was given a small salary and the fees generated from tuition. Special provision was made for the teaching of short courses by leading members of the bar. The school also added minimum entrance standards at that time: An applicant had to be at least nineteen years old, have a good English education, and known enough Latin to readily understand legal terms and maxims. Juniors were instructed in the following subjects: "Organization and Jurisdiction of Courts of United States (Supreme, Circuit, and District Courts) and South Carolina (Supreme, Common Pleas, Sessions, Probate, and Trial Justice Courts); Sources of Municipal Law; Domestic Relations; Personal Property, and title to same; Administration, Wills, Contracts, Bailments, Bills and Notes, Principal and Agent, Corporations; Criminal Law, and herein of Torts and nuisances; Public and Private Law, Law of Evidence." Seniors were instructed in the following: "Pleadings and Practice; Law of Real Property; Equity Jurisprudence; Law of Conveyancing; Trial of Title to Land; Maritime Law and Law of Nations; State of Law of the State on subjects not read with the text and lectures of the course; Deeds, Recording, Habeas Corpus, etc." In addition, the juniors were required to write essays, while seniors were trained in court details in a moot court.

In 1937, the South Carolina Law Review was established.


The law school is now located in the Law Center at 701 South Main Street. Moe's South West Grill, Domino's Pizza and Courtyard Columbia Downtown border on Devine Street the south and Fed/Ex Kinko's and the SC Bookstore are across Greene Street to the north. Assembly Street is on the west, and the Jones Building is on the east. The former DCP [changed from College Mart, which is located in the center of Five Points,] was at the corner of Harden street and Devine street.

On July 27, 2011, the law school officially announced plans for a new building, to be located on a block between Senate, Gervais, Bull and Pickens streets in downtown Columbia.[5] The new building will have 187,500 square feet and will reportedly cost $80 million to construct. In February 2013, the University's Board of Trustees voted to pay more than half of the cost of the new building with bonds backed by students' tuition payments.[6] With the Board's decision, the Law School hopes to break ground on the new building in summer 2014 with a target opening date for the Fall 2016 semester.[7]

The school's law library is the Coleman Karesh Law Library, which contains about a half-million volumes.[8]

Ranking and recognition

The 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Law Schools saw South Carolina Law fall to the unranked third tier of schools. In response to the drop in rankings it was announced that that Dean Walter "Jack" Pratt would step down following the 2010-2011 academic year.[9] The 2010 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Law Schools ranked South Carolina Law was ranked 87th.[10] South Carolina Law was also ranked #54 overall according to the 2010 ranking by the AALS.[11] The ILRG ranked South Carolina Law #68 overall in its 2009 ranking of law schools.[12] The ILRG also has numerous other categories and ranks South Carolina law as the #75 most selective law school, #94 for job placement before graduation, #95 for job placement after 9 months, #27 for best bar passer rates among first time takers, and #44 when ranking the school versus the state average for bar passage rates.[12] Law & Politics' 2010 ranking of law schools ranked South Carolina Law #38 overall.[13] TLS' ranking of most desirable law schools lists South Carolina as the #10 most desirable law school in the country.[14][15] ranks South Carolina law as #94 overall for best job placement and employment trends into "BigLaw".[16] In 2010, The Hylton Rankings place South Carolina Law #90 overall among all law schools.[17] Leiter's ranks South Carolina Law's Professor David G. Owen as #7 among most cited law professors in the field of Tort Law.[18] Most recently, South Carolina Law moved back into the Top 100 law schools in the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Law Schools" at #94.[19]

Notable alumni


1996 1999 2000 2001 2003 2004 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013[20] 2014 2015[21]
Applications N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1612 1609 2082 1975 2191 1972 1771 1445 1248 1245
Accepted N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 478 (30%) 500 (31%) 729 (35%) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 713 (57.3%)
Enrolled 250 218 225 N/A 225 240 225 229 240 240 213 213 208 215 213
75% LSAT/GPA N/A 158/3.56 159/3.55 159/3.58 159/3.55 N/A 161/3.70 160/3.7 160/3.70 161/3.64 160/3.63 159/3.58 158/3.54 157/3.54 157/3.54
Median LSAT/GPA 157/3.2 155/3.22 156/3.28 156/3.28 156/3.28 158/3.5 159/3.40 159/3.4 158/3.46 159/3.39 158/3.35 157/3.32 155/3.27 155/3.23 155/3.23
25% LSAT/GPA N/A 151/2.90 152/3.01 154/3.02 152/3.01 N/A 156/3.10 156/3.05 156/3.14 156/3.04 155/3.07 154/3.01 153/3.05 152/2.95 152/2.95


According to South Carolina's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 68.6% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[4] South Carolina's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 17.5%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[22]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at South Carolina for the 2013-2014 academic year for a non-resident is $62,440, and for a resident is $40,048.[23] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years for a non-resident is $240,274, and for a resident is $151,733 .[24]

South Carolina bar exam passage

In South Carolina, the bar exam is administered twice a year—in July and February. July is the primary testing date for those who graduate in May. A much smaller group, generally out-of-state applicants, repeat takers, and December graduates, take the February exam. The South Carolina Supreme Court did not release the pass rate for specific schools' alumni until the July 2007 exam when the court separately listed the pass rate for the University of South Carolina and the Charleston School of Law.

Feb. July
2007 N/A 91.5%*
2008 64.7% 86.4%
2009 76.3%[25] 84.8%[26]
2010 66.7%[27] 83.8%[28]
2011 69.6%[29] 79.75%[30]
2012 57.8%[31] 76.2%[32]
2013 75.0%[33] 82.5%[34]
2014 62.2%[35] 79.7%[36]
2015 58.3%[37] 80.5%[38]
2016 49.0[39] N/A

* The July 2007 results were revised upwards after the South Carolina Supreme Court threw out a section of the exam because of an error by a bar examiner.[40]


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  39. "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2016 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Knich, Diane (November 7, 2007). "State high court drops portion of bar exam". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 5, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Edwin L. Green, A History of the University of South Carolina 236-40 (1916) (on the history of the law school).

External links