University of South Carolina School of Law

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University of South Carolina School of Law
Usc law logo.png
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 88
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.


From its opening in 1867 until 1875, the law school held classes, off and on, in what now are the South Caroliniana Library and DeSaussure College. In 891, the Law Department was moved to Legare College. From 1919 to 1950, the law school was located in Petigru College (in 1950, renamed to Currell College). From 1950 to 1974, the law school was located in the new Petigru College. From 1974 to 2017, the law school was located in the University of South Carolina Law Center at 701 Main Street.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

The school's law library contains about a half-million volumes.[8]

Ranking and recognition[edit]

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 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 ranked in the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Law Schools" at #88.[19]

Notable alumni[edit]


1996 1999 2000 2001 2003 2004 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013[20] 2014 2015[21] 2016[22]
Applications N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1612 1609 2082 1975 2191 1972 1771 1445 1248 1245 1272
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%) N/A
Enrolled 250 218 225 N/A 225 240 225 229 240 240 213 213 208 215 213 209
75% LSAT/GPA N/A 158/3.56 159/3.55 159/3.58 159/3.55 N/A 161/3.70 160/3.7 160/3.70 161/3.64 160/3.63 159/3.58 158/3.54 157/3.54 157/3.54 157/3.63
Median LSAT/GPA 157/3.2 155/3.22 156/3.28 156/3.28 156/3.28 158/3.5 159/3.40 159/3.4 158/3.46 159/3.39 158/3.35 157/3.32 155/3.27 155/3.23 155/3.23 154/3.47
25% LSAT/GPA N/A 151/2.90 152/3.01 154/3.02 152/3.01 N/A 156/3.10 156/3.05 156/3.14 156/3.04 155/3.07 154/3.01 153/3.05 152/2.95 152/2.95 151/3.17


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.[23]


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.[24] 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 .[25]

South Carolina bar exam passage[edit]

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%[26] 84.8%[27]
2010 66.7%[28] 83.8%[29]
2011 69.6%[30] 79.75%[31]
2012 57.8%[32] 76.2%[33]
2013 75.0%[34] 82.5%[35]
2014 62.2%[36] 79.7%[37]
2015 58.3%[38] 80.5%[39]
2016 49.0%[40] 75.6%[41]
2017 47.9%[42] 76.2%[43]
2018 41.9%[44] NA

* 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.[45]


  1. ^ Law School Almanac - 2008 Endowments,, retrieved on 6-6-2009.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  3. ^ AALS memberschools,, retrieved on 2-3-2010
  4. ^ a b "Employment Statistics" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Library History
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ About the Law Library, University of South Carolina School of Law.
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^, retrieved 3/22/2009
  11. ^ Aallnet Ranking,, retrieved on 2-8-2010.
  12. ^ a b Ranking of Law schools - Raw data "2009 Raw Data ranking"., retrieved on 2-8-2010.
  13. ^ Superlawyers ranking @ Law and Politics Law and Politics. retrieved on 2-14-2010
  14. ^ Desirable Chart . retrieved on 3-11-2010.
  15. ^ TLS text version retrieved on 3-11-2010.
  16. ^ placement trends . retrieved on 3-11-2010.
  17. ^ Hylton Ranking elsblog empirical legal studies. retrieved on 3-12-2010.
  18. ^ [3] . retrieved on 6-11-2010.
  19. ^ [4]
  20. ^ "Fall 2013 Entering Class Profile". Retrieved Mar 24, 2014. 
  21. ^ "University of South Carolina - 2014 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). University of South Carolina School of Law. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  22. ^ "University of South Carolina -" (PDF). Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  23. ^ "University of South Carolina Profile". 
  24. ^ "Tuition and Expenses". 
  25. ^ "University of South Carolina Profile". 
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  27. ^ [5] retrieved on 04-13-2010
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE JULY 2011 BAR EXAMINATION". Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  32. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2012 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Applicants Passing the July 2012 Bar Examination" (PDF). Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  34. ^ "South Carolina February 2013 Bar Examination Results" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  35. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE JULY 2013 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved Oct 24, 2013. 
  36. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2014 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  37. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE JULY 2014 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  38. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2015 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. May 1, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  39. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE JULY 2015 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  40. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2016 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016. 
  41. ^ (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. April 22, 2016 Retrieved April 22, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. ^ "APPLICANTS PASSING THE FEBRUARY 2017 BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 
  43. ^ (PDF). South Carolina Supreme Court Retrieved April 20, 2018.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. ^ "APPLICANTS RECEIVING SCALED SCORE OF 266 OR HIGHER ON THE FEBRUARY 2018 UNIFORM BAR EXAMINATION" (PDF).  line feed character in |title= at position 54 (help)
  45. ^ Knich, Diane (November 7, 2007). "State high court drops portion of bar exam". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 5, 2009. 


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

External links[edit]