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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Prolific professors, serious scholarship

Over the past few years, faculty have been published in top law journals in record numbers.

South Carolina Law does more than prepare its students to be the next generation of successful attorneys and respected judges. The school also is committed to producing innovative legal research that advances the law and presents solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems.

“This past year, we had our most impressive slate of faculty publications in the law school’s history,” says Colin Miller, associate dean for faculty development. In 2018, 15 of the school’s professors published 17 articles in the primary law journals of U.S. News & World Report’s top 50-ranked law schools.

That’s not a fluke. In 2016 and 2017, South Carolina Law faculty contributed 23 journal articles. And this year, 15 articles already have been accepted. In addition, four other articles have been accepted in Harvard specialty journals, including the Environmental Law Review, Journal of Law & Gender, Journal on Legislation, and Law & Policy Review.

“Not only have we had excellent faculty hiring over the last seven years, but our professors are writing groundbreaking articles on incredibly timely issues,” Miller says. “We also have a very collaborative environment, where our faculty read their colleagues’ draft s and provide feedback. Credit also goes to our terrific faculty support team, who make it all possible.”

While the placements are important, the ideas expressed are more significant. They have been referenced in court cases, discussed at symposiums and featured in the media, which helps influence policy and encourage conversations on crucial topics.

For example, Derek Black’s 2018 article, “The Constitutional Compromise to Guarantee Education,” argues that the 14th Amendment includes a federal right to education. Published in the Stanford Law Review, it has been cited in multiple court cases and mentioned in numerous national newspapers and radio programs.

Because of her insights in environmental law reviews, Shelley Welton has been a frequent speaker at other law schools, including Northwestern, Houston, North Carolina and Vanderbilt, discussing her research into decarbonization, the process of converting our economy from fossil-fuel dependent to one that uses clean, sustainable sources. Her articles have been published in the Columbia, Michigan, and UCLA law reviews, as well as the Harvard Environmental Law Review.

Sometimes the impact of a publication is immediate, as professor Tessa Davis has found. While her article, “A Human Capital Theory of Alimony and Tax,” was still in the printing process by George Mason Law Review, Congress enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Among other things, the act repealed the current tax treatment of alimony in favor of the no-deduction/ inclusion regime advocated in her article.

Further, professor Ned Snow's 2018 U.C. Davis article, "Denying Trademark for Scandalous Speech," was this summer cited in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in Iancu v. Brunetti.

More often, an article’s importance comes years after publication. In May 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit adopted the approach outlined in professor Joseph Seiner’s 2012 William & Mary Law Review article, “Plausibility Beyond the Complaint,” as the standard defendants should be held to when asserting their defense. It’s the fourth time one of Seiner’s articles was discussed by a federal appellate court.


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