A class of pioneers
The Charleston School of Law's first class graduated Saturday, sending 186 more lawyers into the world, including father-daughter pair Sidney and Sydney Jones.
Sidney Jones, 55, said that when his daughter Sydney, now 27, was applying to law school, it occurred to him that attending law school was something he'd always wanted to do.
So he slipped out of his Aiken home one Saturday and took the law school entrance exam. Without telling anyone, the senior project engineer then applied to the Charleston School of Law.
When he got his acceptance letter, he showed it to his wife.
"She said, 'Do it,' " Sidney said. So he enrolled.
Sydney Jones said it really wasn't that strange attending law school with her father, but faculty and students were often confused because they had the same name.
"For the longest time, people didn't know there were two of us," she said. "He studied more, so studying with him was good for me," she added.
Sidney the father already has a job lined up at a law firm. Sydney the daughter still isn't sure what she'll do next. But she said she doesn't see a father-daughter law firm in her future.
Law school dean Richard Gershon called the graduating students pioneers. "These graduates are a group who will forever leave an impact on the Charleston School of Law," he said to the crowd gathered at The Citadel's McAlister Field House. "They were our partners in building the school to what it is now and to what it will become."
The school, which 600 students now attend, opened in August 2004. It received provisional accreditation, the highest level possible for a new law school, from the American Bar Association in December.
Former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, the commencement speaker, reminded graduates that lawyers were among the greatest of American leaders. Invoking the names of such American lawyers and patriots as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hollings urged the members of the Class of 2007 to use their talents and skills in law to help lead the nation.
"Today, as you graduate, America's heart is strong," Hollings said. "We've got strong communities, the most productive industries, the most competitive society. People are ready, willing and able to sacrifice. But we need, in their wake, the graduating Class of 2007 — lawyers — to give her a steady hand. You can do it."