Law school leaders invite new students to experience the power of community

Charleston School of Law celebrated the beginning of the new academic year at Convocation at the Charleston Music Hall on Wednesday. The event included an inspiring collection of messages from Dean Larry Cunningham, Emma Dean, executive director for the South Carolina Bar, Charleston Law professors Dylan Malagrinò and Guang Ming Whitley and SBA president Shane Hursh.

Dean Cunningham provided students, faculty, and staff with an update on the law school, including recent successes with employment outcomes and accomplishments of alumni and and faculty.

“Convocation is a wonderful opportunity to welcome the Charleston School of Law community to the 2023-24 academic year,” said Cunningham. “I am grateful to Emma Dean, Shane Hursh, and Professors Malagrinò and Whitley for sharing their advice and perspective.”

“The Charleston School of Law is not merely a collection of individuals, but a community bound by a common purpose,” said Hursh. “It’s imperative to remember the power of community at this school. Together we can achieve greatness and leave a mark on our community around us.”

Professor Whitley congratulated the new class of law students for their “courage and determination,” and continued sharing the value of community and connectivity saying, “Sometimes law school can seem like a lonely road. There are long hours of study, no doubt, but you are not alone. You are part of the Charleston School of Law community and the greater legal community, and if you take advantage of that, that will become the foundation of your network … a network that will impact your life in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.”

Whitley earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California cum laude and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a member of Law Review and a recipient of the Thomas R. Mulroy prize for appellate advocacy.

“Your genuine relationships with others are as important as your qualifications,” she added. “Your classmates, your professors, the deans, the staff, these are all people who have a strong interest in helping you succeed, get to know us and let us help you on your journey. But you must also build yourself into the kind of person that others will want to support.”

Charleston Law Convocation

Dean, a member of the South Carolina Bar for 16 years, shared her law school experience.

“My dad always would talk about connections,” said Dean. “He was a college professor and he meant that connection where you are aligned to do good work and you’re connected with everyone in this room to be a professional problem solver.”

Dean was named the Executive Director of the South Carolina Bar in January. She previously served as chief counsel for the South Carolina House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, was in private practice in the appellate and civil defense areas at Nelson Mullins and served as a law clerk to South Carolina Supreme Court Justice John Kittredge.

“Remember, the legal profession is not just about the law itself, but also about the people who practice it,” said Hursh, the new Student Bar Association president. “By connecting with the legal profession, you gain exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences. This exposure broadens your horizons, challenges your assumptions, and ultimately shapes you into a well-rounded legal professional.”

Hursh added, “While the academic curriculum provides a solid and essential foundation of legal knowledge, remember, success is not solely measured in the grades you receive or the accolades you earn, but in the indelible impact you make on the lives of others and the transformational connections that you create with those around you. Connecting with the legal profession fosters a sense of belonging in the community.

“Embrace the opportunities that law school presents, and remember, your journey extends beyond the classroom walls. Connect, engage and immerse yourself through the law school for it is through these connections that you’ll truly thrive and make a difference. student organizations will connect you with future mentors, coworkers, bosses, and clients. They will expand on your legal education from the books to the actual practice of the law contained within them. They will give you priceless opportunities to create life-changing moments through service to the community.”

Professor Malagrinò, who joined the Charleston Law faculty in 2017 stressed, “Being a lawyer isn’t about knowing everything. Being a lawyer is a learned profession. It’s about knowing how to examine situations. It’s about knowing how to ask questions. It is about knowing what questions to ask. I think it’s about training your mind to think critically to uncover value in the details to be of service to people, to justice and to the law. I’d like you to consider Charleston School of Law to be your training ground.”

The Charleston School of Law began the 2023-24 academic year with new student orientation with classes officially beginning Monday, August 21.

The new class includes 225 incoming 1L students (73% of the class is female; 27% is male) from 119 colleges and universities across the country. The median age of the class is 22 (oldest member is 51 and the youngest is 20).

Charleston Law BBQ and Student Organization Fair