USC renamed its law school to the Joseph F. Rice School of Law Friday and unveiled the building's new signage in a ceremony Friday morning.
Rice, who graduated from USC's School of Law in 1979, is a nationally-recognized litigator and co-founder of the firm Motley Rice.
The board of trustees formally accepted $30 million fund in a call prior to the unveiling. University President Michael Amiridis and Dean William C. Hubbard attended the ceremony.
"This is a unique morning of celebration in the history not only of our law school, but our entire university," Amiridis said at the ceremony.
His family's investment into the school will be used to create an endowed student scholarship fund, yielding multiple three-year full and partial scholarships as well as at least four new endowed professorships. Other planned uses include providing stipends for law students with a children's law concentration and professional development for staff.
“I hope that it allows the university to bring in the best of the best minds to thrive, to provide additional diversity and to prepare them for their legal career so that they can strive and go back and do good things,” Rice said.
Rice is well-known for his involvement in large civil actions, including the $246 billion civil settlement against the tobacco industry, two settlements related to the British Petroleum oil spill and ongoing national opioid abuse litigation.
But he faced hurdles at first when earning his law degree.
Rice originally did not meet the admissions requirements to attend USC's School of Law and decided to enroll in the law school's summer school-like program, where he was able to earn admittance based on his performance, he said.
He hopes his investment provides prospective law students with a similar "leg up," Rice said.
"I would not have entered law school, nor performed as well in law school and not have built personal and professional relationships throughout that time as a student and during my career, without that program," Rice said. "I see this opportunity for me and my family as a way to help law students in much the same way as that summer program helped me."
Rice said he considers himself privileged to be in a position where his investment into the law school can provide opportunities and contribute to the success of USC law students and professors.
"I never imagined back in 1979, when I walked off the stage with my law degree ... that I would ever be able to donate anything that might change the lives and future of thousands of students," Rice said. "I now have the benefit of being a part of the law school's past and, now, its future."