thornton scholarship recipients

A watershed gift

Bequest enhances law school scholarship

In 2015 Justin A. Thornton (law, ’77) of McLean, Virginia, established an endowed scholarship fund in the School of Law, and it’s now grown dramatically larger. Thornton recently enhanced the scholarship with a planned gift, which will make the fund one of the school’s largest law scholarships, according to Travis D. Tester, director of development at the School of Law.

A few years after he received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Thornton, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, decided to pursue a law degree at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He remembers the exceptional opportunities the school offered for a young law student.

“I was active in student government and chaired the law school’s Legal Forum, which gave me the opportunity to meet a variety of outstanding and inspirational members of the legal profession who spoke at our law school and often encouraged us to set our sights high,” he says. “I especially enjoyed the clinic program that allowed me to gain real courtroom experience as a prosecutor in the family court system under the supervision and instruction of a solicitor.”

Thornton put those experiences to work and has enjoyed an exceptional professional career. A former federal prosecutor with the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Thornton is now a white-collar criminal defense attorney based in Washington, DC.

In addition to establishing the scholarship fund, Thornton has chosen to stay involved with the university for the benefit of future generations. A member of the Law Alumni Council and the South Carolina Bar, he has donated two granite benches for the law school’s courtyard and last year hosted a law school alumni reception in Washington, DC.

Scholarships from the fund are awarded by the School of Law Scholarship Committee to deserving law students. The first two recipients (pictured above) are Bradley Tidwell in 2017 and Madison Chapel in 2018.

“I am a big believer in the rule of law, the legal profession and the importance of education, scholarships and giving back,” Thornton says.