South Carolina Lawyer
Vol. 14, No. 1, Pg. 20.
Law school center tackles professionalism issues
Law school center tackles professionalism issuesBy Roy T. StuckeyHow would you proceed if someone gave you a million dollars to improve the professionalism of lawyers and judges? What would you do to reduce the number of lawyers and judges whose conduct does not conform to the standards and values of the legal profession? This is the worthy, but daunting challenge confronting the new center on professionalism at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
22Most lawyers and judges strive to uphold the best traditions and practices of the legal profession every day of their lives - and they usually succeed. However, some do not, and the reputations of all suffer. Whether for right or wrong, the public's opinion of American lawyers is at one of the lowest points in history. Even though professional misconduct is probably not as big of a problem in South Carolina as in some other states, every member of the legal profession should be concerned about the profession's negative public image and about the unprofessional conduct of some lawyers that adds credibility to lawyer jokes.
In 1999, the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough law firm pledged a one million dollar gift to the law school to create a center on professionalism. The firm and the schoolshare a belief that the best way to achieve positive change is through a long-term commitment of resources. The entity responsible for developing ideas and projects that will make a difference is the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough Center on Professionalism at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
The NMR&S Center is not the first center on professionalism at a law school. A few others existed when USC's center was created, and additional law school centers are being added regularly. The unique aspect of the NMR&S Center is the financial stability that exists due to the firm's gift. The endowment ensures that the center will have a permanent source of funding to support its core programs. The center also receives some funds from the South Carolina Bar Foundation, and it can apply for grants to support specific projects. The law school donates space, equipment, supplies and other support for the center and reduces the teaching load of the director. This allows most...