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Photo of William C. Hubbard, dean of the School of Law.

USC Law Dean William Hubbard elected to prestigious national academy

William Hubbard read the email three times Tuesday to be sure it was true: He had been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“I was quite surprised and almost overwhelmed by the notice,” the dean of the School of Law says.

The academy, founded in 1780, is a prestigious fellowship of artists, scholars and leaders who work together for the public good.

Hubbard is recognized internationally for his efforts to champion the rule of law and advocate for fair, accountable and independent justice systems. During his tenure as president of the American Bar Association, he led efforts to increase access to justice through innovation, reform the criminal justice system, provide legal assistance to unaccompanied immigrant children and improve support for victims of domestic violence.

“Dean Hubbard’s distinguished legal career has advanced the cause of justice across our state, nation and globe,” President Michael Amiridis says. “Our students and our university have benefited from his insightful leadership in countless ways, and he is eminently deserving of this recognition.”

Hubbard is co-founder and chair of the board of the World Justice Project, a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. The project annually evaluates 140 countries in its Rule of Law index, measuring corruption, open government, civil justice and criminal justice. The index is used by global organizations including the World Bank, United Nations and European Union.

In addition, the organization aims to connect and engage stakeholders from around the globe as they promote justice in their communities.

“It can feel very lonely when you’re in a country that’s really struggling against an autocrat or dictator and you’re trying to promote the rule of law,” Hubbard says. “It’s powerful to realize there are other people in similar situations across the world and you can gather strength from them and learn from them. I’m inspired when I see the presentations of these organizations that operate with almost no resources in challenging environments.”

Elizabeth Andersen, executive director of the World Justice Project, was thrilled about Hubbard’s latest honor.

“William’s election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a well-deserved tribute to his exemplary leadership in advancing the rule of law in the United States and around the world,” she said. “As a leader in the legal profession, he has championed innovation in legal services to increase access to justice for those most in need, and as a leader in the academy, his example, mentorship and teaching are creating the next generation of rule-of-law leaders.”

Hubbard is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute and an Honorary Master of the Bench of Middle Temple in London. His accolades include being presented with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian award presented by a South Carolina governor, and receiving the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. In 2016, the Burton Foundation, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, named Hubbard the recipient of its inaugural “Leadership in Law” award.

As dean, Hubbard aims to cultivate lawyer leaders who understand the flaws of the American legal system and embrace their responsibilities to provide pro bono service and create systemic reforms.

“I love working with these students," Hubbard says. "They have a passion to do justice, and we want to encourage that passion and help them to flourish.”