Courtesy of USC School of Law

First female law professor's legacy carries on after passing

The USC School of Law’s first female faculty member's legacy lives on despite her recent passing.

Sarah Leverette, the third female to graduate from USC's law school in 1943, passed away of natural causes at the age of 98 on Aug. 29. When she graduated, there was not much room for a woman to practice law, but that never deterred her. She worked tirelessly throughout her life to pave the way for women in her field, something School of Law Dean Robert Wilcox says will keep her memory alive throughout the program.

“Closed doors did not shut out Sarah’s incredible spirit,” Wilcox said. “For 75 years, her vision, determination, and unwillingness to accept inequity made South Carolina a better state for all.”

Leverette led the School of Law’s library for 25 years, and she was a professor for much of that time. She taught a legal writing class that every student was required to take, and she had a huge impact on legal writing in the state of South Carolina. 

She helped establish the League of Women’s Voters in South Carolina to fight for women’s right to serve on a jury, and with her peers, was able to change the law to give women more of a say in the government in 1967. 

“Sarah’s commitment to bettering the lives of her fellow South Carolinians is a legacy in which I will continually stand in awe,” said Travis Tester, the associate director for development and alumni relations for the University of South Carolina School of Law, in an email. 

Leverette was active in the South Carolina community until her passing. She received the 2018 Compleat Platinum Lawyer Award this April from the South Carolina School of Law Alumni Council for her outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the legal profession. 

“Her love for the rule of law, this institution, and for her fellow citizens has shaped our state for the better,” Tester said. 

Tester emphasized Leverette’s grace and humility, and the power she had to touch and inspire those who surrounded her. 

“She was a true pioneer, teacher, and activist,” Tester said. “She will be greatly missed, but we all will strive to carry on her legacy.”

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