A team of four from the University of South Carolina School of Law have been honored with the D. Reece Williams III Trial Advocacy Award after they won the school’s mock trial competition.
The honorees, three of whom have graduated since the competition, are:
• Ariyana Nicole Gore, class of 2021 – Currently employed as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Walton J. McLeod IV. Her hometown is North Myrtle Beach.
• Chance Taylor Sturup, class of 2021 – Currently employed by Cromer, Babb, Porter, & Hicks, LLC. His hometown is Pensacola, Fla. He intends to practice employment litigation as an associate, pending bar passage and licensure.
• Destinee Simone Wilson, class of 2021 – Currently employed in the South Carolina Supreme Court staff attorney office. North Augusta is her hometown.
• Tia Reed, class of 2022 – Currently in her final year of law school, and her hometown is Charlotte. She hopes to obtain a judicial clerkship after graduation.
The “case” that won the competition for the team was about a contested-liability accident involving a car and a motorcycle. Teams had to represent both sides of the case in order to prevail in the tournament.
The South Carolina Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a by-invitation organization, created the D. Reece Williams III Trial Advocacy Award in 2009, naming it for the Callison Tighe & Robinson partner. The USC law school website notes that the award is “named in honor of a distinguished Columbia lawyer known for his professional demeanor and exemplary skills in the courtroom.”
Williams has been a member of ABOTA since 1989, and in 2000, he served as its national president. He was South Carolina’s Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2006, and he’s a past president of the Richland County Bar.
He says successful trial advocacy requires certain special qualities in an attorney. “You have to be a little bit nuts,” he says. After all, it involves performing in public, which calls for different skills and temperament “whether you’re singing or dancing or trying a lawsuit.”
Williams often helps teach advocacy skills to other attorneys. He has a long history of commitment to legal education, speaking frequently at workshops and seminars throughout the country. He’s also appeared at dozens of trial demonstrations in more than 30 states, and he’s taught at the National Trial Academy of the National Judicial College. He’s served as a guest speaker at the USC School of Law, which is his alma mater.
He is very proud of those who win the award named for him each year. “Two or three years ago, one of the winners was a young woman, and she was extremely talented,” he recalls. “A year and a half later, she showed up on the other side of a case I was on.”
She won. He lost. He says it with pride.
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