CHARLESTON, S.C., – The nation's top official for accrediting law schools encouraged the almost 200 new graduates of the Charleston School of Law to make a difference in their new careers as advocates for people.
"Lawyers have an opportunity -- and I believe an obligation -- to use their education and their license to make the world a better place," said Hulett H. "Bucky" Askew, consultant on legal education to the American Bar Association.
"You can do it through private practice. You can do it through community service, like former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley have done so well for so long. You can do it through the judiciary, like S.C. Chief Justice Jean Toal. You can do it in the academy, as Charleston School of Law Chair Alex Sanders does. Or you can do it through full-time public interest work. Just do it!"
Dean Andy Abrams recalled the words of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses" in challenging members of the Class of 2012 to use their legal education to the fullest.
"Even as you leave us today, what now lies before you on your journey is that untraveled world with all of the wonderful, gleaming possibilities that tomorrow presents -- the possibilities of using the legal education that you have just acquired to live a life, both personally and professionally that truly matters," Abrams said.
The school, which now is comprised of more than 700 students in downtown Charleston, opened in August 2004. It received full accreditation from the American Bar Association in August 2011.
Members of the Class of 2012 distinguished themselves while students by giving 24,557 hours of pro bono, or free, public service to local and state organizations. Since the school was started in 2004, students have contributed more than 186,200 hours of public service through pro bono and externships projects. The Charleston School of Law is one of the few in the country that requires students to donate at least 30 hours to public service projects as a requirement of graduation.
As Consultant on Legal Education to the American Bar Association, Askew has served since 2006 as the organization's senior manager and top administrator of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the official accreditation agency for law schools in the United States. A Georgia native, Askew served as director of the Office of Bar Admissions of the Supreme Court of Georgia (1990-2006) and also as executive director of the Chief Justice of Georgia's Commission on Professionalism from 1990-96. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Askew to serve on the board of the Legal Services Corporation on which he served until 2003. From 1969 to 1990, Askew was a legal aid lawyer at the local, regional and national levels. A member of several legal professional committees at the ABA, Askew received a bachelor's degree in 1964 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1967. He lives in Chicago.
Class of 2012 profile
• Number: 195 students graduated today with the Class of 2012. (An additional 35 students received degrees since the 2011 commencement ceremony and were eligible to participate in today's ceremony.)
• Residency: 62 percent are S.C. residents; 38 percent are non-residents.
• Gender: 55 percent of the class is male; 45 percent is female.
• Service: The Class of 2012 has donated 24,557 recorded hours of pro bono service since 2009. Members of the class also worked 11,264 hours in externship programs through the school's partnership with more than 120 organizations and offices.
• Motto: Pro bono populi ("For the benefit of the people")