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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Donor Q&A with Christy Tinnes

Where do you call home? 

Annapolis, Maryland, although I grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, so that’s really home. 

When did you first become interested in law as a career? 

In 10th grade my high school government teacher required us to do 20 hours of time in court or county council or city council. That was my first exposure to being in a courtroom but also seeing behind the scenes of county council and city council making laws. 

You have multiple degrees from USC, what made you keep coming back? 

I grew up in South Carolina and I had a wonderful experience as an undergrad. I was in the honors college and was active on campus. I stayed on another year to get my master’s in accounting. Then I moved to Washington for two years to work at Arthur Andersen, but missed South Carolina, so I came back for law school. 

How do you think South Carolina Law prepared you for life after law school? 

I think that USC really prepared me well on practical issues and being able to practice law. I do regulatory work, dealing with health plans. The classes I had – administrative law, tax and ERISA classes – and practical clinics where I worked with clients as a student really helped. I also worked at the State House with the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I learned to review and write legislation. I had some really good practical classes that helped me once I started. 

You recently were listed among The Best Lawyers in America, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2023) – congratulations! Which of your accomplishments so far are you most proud of? 

That’s a hard question. I do a lot of work professionally, and I’m proud of the clients I work with – helping them navigate what they need to cover in their health plan. But what I’m most proud of is non-legal. I’m the diversity and inclusion chair at my firm. The diversity and inclusion work I do with my firm – and with other groups – I think has been a legacy I wanted to leave. It’s a personal passion for me. 

On that note, why is it important to you to give back to the School of Law as a donor? 

I felt it was important because I benefited from the law school. I had a law school scholarship and it allowed me to make the most of my experience. I want to help others who want to go to law school – in particular at South Carolina. I grew up in South Carolina and ended up in Washington, partly because I like being here and like the work I do, but I never have lost my love for South Carolina. There might be somebody else like me who grew up in South Carolina but wants to work in different places and work on different issues, and I’d like to support that, too. 

What are you looking forward to as you continue your career? 

I look forward to in the next few years becoming more of a mentor to the people I work with, particularly associates. HIPAA is the main law that I work on – privacy rules – so really to be able to build up the next generation, either in house or other firms, nurture their careers and to share that knowledge and practical insight of how to deal with clients. 

Is there a philosophy you try to live life by? 

I want to be kind, choose joy, and practice gratitude. 

Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? 

I had really great professors at USC. I was really involved in the Student Bar Association and Law Review, and the professors I worked with. I just feel really lucky to have worked with, be mentored by or taught by them. So, I’d say thank you to those professors. 

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