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Pair of alumni present $2 million to School of Law

By Peggy Binette, peggy@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-7704

A pair of 1977 graduates of the University of South Carolina’s School of Law presented a $2 million gift Tuesday (March 12) to the school for its building campaign.

Columbia lawyers Steven W. Hamm and Charles L. Dibble said the gift honors Karen J. Williams, a 1980 law school graduate and legal trailblazer who, in 1992, was the first female to be appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She served as chief judge from 2007 until her retirement in 2009.

The donation, presented to School of Law Dean Rob Wilcox at a luncheon, is the result of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against American General Finance, Inc.

“This extraordinary gift arrives at a most opportune time in the history of our law school as we plan the construction of a new building,” said Wilcox, dean of the School of Law. “Steve Hamm has understood the importance from the outset of having a first-class facility in which to educate future lawyers, and we are grateful for his visionary leadership in many respects.”

The University Board of Trustees recently approved a financing plan for the new $80 million law school building, to be constructed in Columbia between Gervais and Senate streets in the block between Bull and Pickens streets. Several state approvals must still be obtained, but Wilcox says that he hopes the school can begin construction in the summer of 2014 with occupancy by August 2016.

The terms of the settlement in the class-action lawsuit dictated that a portion of the settlement proceeds not claimed by members of the plaintiffs’ class was to be designated as a charitable contribution to the university’s School of Law and other charities in South Carolina.

The American General litigation, which led to this gift, began in 1996 and was finally settled in 2012 after several appeals. In addition to Hamm and Dibble, other lawyers representing plaintiffs included Daniel W. Williams, C. Bradley Hutto, T. Alexander Beard, Thomas M. Fryar, and D. Michael Kelly. American General was represented locally by the Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd law firm.

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Posted: 03/13/13 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 03/15/13 @ 4:35 PM | Permalink

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