When one thinks of South Carolina, antebellum mansions and mint juleps come to mind, but that image is only a small snapshot of what the state really has to offer. The state is home to some of the best beach resorts in the country, not to mention fabulous gardens, historic sites, and the genteel charm of the population.
If you are looking for a place to go to law school that has a mixture of southern charm and sandy beaches, then South Carolina may be the place for you. Two nationally accredited law schools operate in the state: the University of South Carolina School of Law and the Charleston School of Law.
University of South Carolina School of Law
The University of South Carolina School of Law (USC) is located in Columbia, the state's capital. It is a city of stately historic buildings right next to thoroughly modern ones. It is a city buzzing with excitement, and there is always something to do should the busy law student find time for extracurricular activities.
USC School of Law is a public school with around 600 full-time law students in attendance. Established in 1866, the USC School of Law is one of the nation's oldest law schools. During its first decade, it produced 40 lawyers, including some of the first African American lawyers in the country.
The school offers eight clinics and many externship opportunities where students can gain hands-on experience in practice areas like domestic violence, education, and healthcare. There are also special summer programs that include a "Maymester" study in London and a Coastal Law Field Lab, a 4.5-week summer course focused on unique legal challenges faced by coastal residents and business owners.
The school's tuition is below average for South Carolina residents, about $24,000 a year, but more expensive for non-residents, about $33,000.
Charleston School of Law
Charleston School of Law (CS Law) is located in Charleston, the oldest and largest city in South Carolina. The city is located on the coast, at the mid-point of the state. Founded in 1607, it is a city full of well-preserved and beautiful buildings that speak of its long history. But perhaps Charleston's greatest treasure is its residents, who have regularly led Charleston to be named one of the friendliest cities in the country.
The school traces its roots back to 1825 but was not a fully-fledged J.D. program until 2003 and gained full ABA accreditation in 2011. But in the short time CS Law has been on the scene, it has achieved significant accolades, including seven back-to-back wins in the National Tax Moot Court Competition.
CS Law students must complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work during their time in law school. This gives students the chance to not only give back to the community but gain valuable hands-on experience in legal practice.
Charleston School of Law is the more expensive option in South Carolina, with tuition of about $44,000 a year. But, the school's proximity to many of the state's largest law firms and businesses provides ample job opportunities.
Tips for Law School and Beyond
Whether or not you decide to make your way to South Carolina for law school, bookmark and continue to explore FindLaw Law Students. It contains many articles that offer tips and advice to help select a school, choose classes, take the bar exam, and go on to your first job.