New Summer Honors Program offers top-ranked students exceptional view of today’s most pressing justice issues

Oct. 4, 2019 – Imagine spending the summer learning from some of South Carolina’s most respected attorneys, judges, and leaders on a variety of  justice issues and getting practical legal experience in the process. This past summer, 14 incoming 1Ls and three returning Presidential Honors students did just that and had an academic experience that will shape their legal careers.

The students participated in meaningful discussions about social justice issues, gained real-world experience through an externship, learned the importance of giving back through law related pro bono work, and began networking with alumni and leading members of the legal profession.

The Charleston School of Law conceived the idea for the Summer Honors Program as a way for top students to be exposed to law school in an intimate setting before taking a full course load in the fall.

“The Summer Honors Program provides a unique opportunity for a select group of high-achieving incoming students, as they begin their law school careers, to experience first-had the commitment of the Charleston School of Law to empower its students to use the law as a positive force for social change,” Dean Andy Abrams said. “Consistent with the law school’s motto, “Pro Bono Populi” (“For the Good of People”), these new Charleston School of Law students are now well on their way to making a lasting impact on the people and communities they will serve in the days ahead.”

Professor Allyson Haynes Stuart taught the course that featured different areas of justice, including racial justice, victims’ justice, the right to counsel, the pro bono lawyer, access to justice in South Carolina courts, assisting nonprofits, and advocating for the environment, property rights, civil liberties, the homeless, and immigrants.

The course included featured speakers followed by a lecture from either Professor Stuart or another faculty member or attorney. A few of the featured speakers included U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, South Carolina Supreme Court Justice John Few, nationally recognized former mayor of Charleston Joseph Riley, Jr., and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams, who successfully prosecuted Dylann Roof for the hate crime murders of nine members of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church.

“This course was a wonderful opportunity for selected incoming students to be exposed to individuals in their community who are using their law degrees to advance social justice in truly diverse ways,” Professor Stuart said.

As part of the course, the students also worked with local attorneys, many of whom are alumni, in a summer externship.  Additionally, they got a head start on their pro bono graduation requirement by performing three hours of pro bono legal service with either the ACLU of South Carolina, the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, or Catholic Charities Office of Immigration Services. The students earned two pass-fail credit hours for the seminar and one pass-fail credit hour for the externship.

The students who participated in the Summer Honors Program are grateful for this life changing experience that solidified their decision to become lawyers and pursue justice.

Listen to comments and testimonials about the Summer Honors Program here.

Given its resounding success, the Charleston School of Law plans to offer the Summer Honors Program each summer.