COLUMBIA, S.C. — Florence native William C. Hubbard was recently selected as the new dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law, the state’s only public law school. He takes over on Aug. 1.
Hubbard spent his law career as an attorney and partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Columbia from 1978 to present. Friday was his last day with the firm.
Hubbard said in a telephone interview that he is excited about his new role.
“I was approached by some faculty leaders, some members of the bar and leaders in the General Assembly, Hubbard said.
After being approached by all three, Hubbard said, he began to consider the position.
“I got real excited about the opportunity,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard grew up on Jackson Avenue in Florence. His father and uncle were owners of a drycleaners in Florence, Hubbard’s. His mother was a school teacher.
He attended Royal Elementary School and Moore Junior High School.
“I graduated from McClenaghan High School in 1970,” Hubbard said.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of South Carolina in 1974, graduating magna cum laude, and a juris doctorate from the School of Law in 1977. As an undergraduate, Hubbard received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the university’s highest student award. In 2009, he received the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2010, he was awarded the university’s highest recognition, the honorary doctor of laws.
“I have enjoyed watching his outstanding career,” said Mark W. Buyck Jr. of Willcox Buyck & Williams in Florence. “I was chairman of the University of South Carolina’s Carolina Scholars Selection Committee for the 12th Judicial Circuit when William graduated from high school. We awarded him a four-year Carolina Scholarship, which are highly competitive. ... William served as my law clerk for a term, and when he was president of the American Bar Association, Julia and I attended the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede and William presided, sat next to the Queen and introduced her to the assemblage. He and I served together on the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees for nearly three decades.”
Hubbard said serving as a law clerk under Buyck was one of the most fun summers he had in law.
“It was a great summer working for Mr. Buyck and his staff,” he said.
After law school, Hubbard was law clerk to U.S. District Judge Robert F. Chapman. Hubbard said he spent some time in Florence at the courthouse on Evans Street while clerking for Chapman.
Rob Wilcox is stepping down after eight years as dean, Hubbard said. He will stay on the faculty.
“I will be building on what he has done,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said he is excited to be entering the new $65 million law school building. He praised the new facility and said he hopes to put the law school on the map when things get back to normal, and the school can host national conferences.
As dean, Hubbard said, his primary responsibility will be to make sure the more than 600 law students at USC are getting the kind of legal education they need.
He said he will also be raising funds for scholarships to benefit law students at the school. He said that is a need that must be addressed quickly.
Hubbard said he would also like to see the law school faculty members receive the recognition they rightly deserve.
He said the faculty is “incredibly impressive.”
“They are some of the country’s best,” he said.
Hubbard said he wants to shine a light on them. But he said his main focus is on the students and making sure they are ready for challenges of law and receive the education to succeed.
He said there will be unusual challenges this year due to the coronavirus.
Hubbard said it is critical that first-year law school students have in-person classes.
To make sure that happens in a responsible and safe way Hubbard said, plans are for classes to start at 8 a.m. spaced out in different classrooms. The law students will remain in the same classroom all morning with professors changing rooms. The building will be cleaned before upper classmen come in for afternoon and evening classes, he said. Not all of their classes will be in the classroom.
Hubbard said since accepting the position he has been waking up early every morning thinking about the job and things he would like to accomplish.
Hubbard said he would like to bring in more practicing lawyers as adjunct professors.
He said he would also like to start a master’s program in legal technology in which it would take a year to get a degree rather than the number it takes for a law degree. Hubbard said it would be a level above a paralegal. It would compare to the nurse practitioner in the medical field.
“They could do a lot of what a lawyer does now,” he said.
He wants to prepare people for the law of the 21st century. A major in legal technology would be one way to do this.
Hubbard has distinguished himself in his law career serving as president of the American Bar Association in 2014-2015, leading efforts to increase access to justice “through innovation and reform.”
He served a two-year term as chair of the ABA’s House of Delegates, was a past president of the American Bar Foundation and a past president of the American Bar Endowment.
He serves as chair of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which reports to the DOJ and the U.S. Senate on the qualifications of federal judicial nominees.
Hubbard is chair of the board of the World Justice Project, and is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates.
He is a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, a member of the Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation and is an honorary master of the bench of Middle Temple in London.
He has served on the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina since 1986 and served as chairman of the Board from 1996 to 2000.
In 2002, Hubbard was presented the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian award presented by a South Carolina governor.
He also received the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, in 2007.
The Burton Foundation, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, named Hubbard the recipient of its inaugural “Leadership in Law” award in 2016.
Hubbard and his wife, Kappy, have three adult children and three grandchildren.
“His wife, Kappy, is a great supporter and asset for William in his every endeavor,” Buyck said. “He will be an outstanding dean of the University of South Carolina Law School.”