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Joseph F. Rice School of Law


Etienne C. Toussaint

Title: Associate Professor of Law
Joseph F. Rice School of Law
Phone: 803-777-8178
Office: 1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208
Etienne C. Toussaint


Etienne C. Toussaint is an interdisciplinary legal scholar with expertise in legal history, contract law, business law, community economic development, philosophical legal ethics, legal education, and professional responsibility.

His scholarship sits at the intersection of law, history, culture, and political economy, with a focus on the socioeconomic challenges facing urban communities across the United States. For example, he has written about the ethical implications of social impact investing, the role of the solidarity economy in equitable community development, the challenges facing urban farming programs designed to address food insecurity, the plight of Black farmers suffering racial discrimination from the USDA, and the pedagogical principles of public citizenship lawyering. He has delivered over 100 presentations on these topics and others at faculty colloquia, legal conferences, community workshops, and across various media platforms.

Professor Toussaint has been nationally recognized for his teaching, scholarship, and service. In 2023, he was awarded both a Faculty Scholarship Award and a Faculty Diversity Leadership Award by the University of South Carolina School of Law. In 2022, he was awarded the Junior Great Teacher Award by the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). In 2021 he was honored as the Stegner Center Young Scholar by the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources & the Environment at The University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law. In recent years, his scholarship has been competitively selected for presentation at the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum; the Georgetown University Law Center’s Law & Humanities Interdisciplinary Workshop; and The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Junior Faculty Business and Financial Law Workshop. His book chapters, articles, and essays have been published by the American Bar Association, Cambridge University Press, the California Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, the Virginia Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Boston University Law Review, the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, among other print and online publications.

Prior to joining the law faculty at the University of South Carolina, Professor Toussaint taught Contracts, Business Organizations, and a Law & Economy seminar at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, where he was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Neophyte Law Professor Award. He also taught housing finance and transactional lawyering as Co-Director of the Community Development Law Clinic at UDC Law, where he supervised the pro bono representation of dozens of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and cooperative housing associations across the nation’s capital. Professor Toussaint began his legal career as a project finance associate with the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Subsequently, he served as a Law & Policy Fellow with the Poverty & Race Research Action Council in Washington, D.C., focusing on fair housing issues. Toussaint began his law teaching career as a Friedman Fellow at The George Washington University Law School, where he earned an LL.M. in Advocacy under the mentorship of Professors Susan R. Jones and Phyllis Goldfarb.

Professor Toussaint is a graduate of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT, he earned an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering, and was designated a Ronald McNair Scholar and Alpha Phi Alpha Distinguished Collegiate. He completed an M.S.E. in Environmental Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, where he served as Graduate Student Adviser for Engineers Without Borders. Toussaint earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School, where he served as a student-attorney in the Transactional Law Clinic, the Ghana Human Rights Clinic, and the Harvard Defenders. At HLS, he also served as an editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review, Vice-President of the Board of Student Advisers, and a National Executive Board member of the National Black Law Students Association.

Professor Toussaint has served as a Board Member of the Washington Council of Lawyers, as a National Advisory Board Member of the National Black Law Students Association, and as a member of the American Bar Association, Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. Toussaint currently serves on the Advisory Board of The Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy. He also sits on the Executive Board of the AALS Professional Responsibility Section, Business Associations Section, and Minority Section.

Born and raised in the South Bronx, Professor Toussaint is the proud husband of Dr. Ebony A. Toussaint, Ph.D., and the father of their three amazing sons.


  • S.B., The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • M.S.E., The Johns Hopkins University
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • LL.M., The George Washington University Law School


  • Contracts
  • Business Associations
  • Secured Transactions
  • Law and Political Economy (Seminar)
  • Critical Legal History (Reading Group)

Selected Scholarship

  • Essential Work (work-in-progress)
  • Fair Housing After Technology (work-in-progress)
  • The Unequal Protection of Black Farmers (work-in-progress)
  • On the Cultivation of Black Letter Law (work-in-progress)
  • Negotiating Trauma in the Business Law Classroom in How to Account for Trauma and Emotions in Law Teaching, edited by Mallika Kaur and Lindsay M. Harris, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. (forthcoming).
  • The Mandatory Arbitration of Hazing Lawsuits in The Law of Fraternities and Sororities, edited by Gregory S. Parks (forthcoming)
  • Green Capitalism: The Case of The Environmental Impact Bond in Investing for Social Impact, Economic Justice, and Racial Equity, edited by Dorcas R. Gilmore, Lisa Green Hall, and Susan R. Jones, American Bar Association (2023)
  • The Message: Resisting Cultures of Poverty in Urban America in Fight the Power!: Law and Policy Through Hip Hop Songs, edited by Frank R. Cooper and Gregory S. Parks, Cambridge University Press (2022)
  • Letter of Enthusiastic Support, from Black Male Law Deans and Law Professors for the Senate’s Confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to Serve as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, to United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, March 14, 2022.
  • Written Testimony, Critical Race Theory and the Future of Education in South Carolina, Public Hearing on H. 4325, H. 4343, H. 4392, H. 4605, and H. 4799, South Carolina House Education and Public Works Committee, Columbia, S.C., Feb. 16, 2022 (with Jada Wilson and the UofSC M.J. Perry Black Law Students Association).
  • Report of Trial Monitors, Donziger Criminal Contempt Proceedings Violated International Human Rights Law and Standards: Final Observations and Conclusions on the Criminal Contempt Proceedings against Steven Donziger in the Trial Division, 2019-2021, Pilot Project to establish International Monitoring Panels to Evaluate Trials in the United States (IMPETUS), January 24, 2022 (with Stephen Rapp and Catherine Morris).
  • Report of Trial Monitors, United States v. Steven Donziger, No. 19-CR-561 (LAP); 11-CIV-691 (LAK), United States Federal Court, South New York Trial Division, Pilot Project to establish International Monitoring Panels to Evaluate Trials in the United States (IMPETUS), October 27, 2020 (with Stephen Rapp, Catherine Morris, and Nykeeba Brown).
  • Public Testimony Report, Public Hearing on B23-390, The Urban Farming Land Lease Amendment Act of 2019, Council of the D.C. Committee on Transportation & the Environment, Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2019 (with Sabine O’Hara).

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.