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2014 Lawyer of the Year Introduction:
Richard W. Riley

March 20, 2014

Presentation during the 2014 Leaders in Law awards ceremony presented by S.C. Lawyers Weekly.  Reprinted with permission of the publisher.  

On Dec. 21, 1992, President-elect Bill Clinton announced two more members of his cabinet. One was Dick Riley, two-term governor of South Carolina, as secretary of education. The other was Hazel O’Leary, a Minneapolis power-company executive, as secretary of energy. THE LOS ANGELES TIMES ran a 15-paragraph story about the appointments. Two sentences were about Riley; the rest of the story was about politics, with several paragraphs about the controversial choice of O’Leary. That’s fitting. 

Later news stories about O’Leary’s four years in the cabinet called her “flamboyant” and “outspoken.” At the end of Riley’s eight years in Washington, TIME magazine called him one of the 10 best cabinet members of the 20th century. TIME praised his leadership in improving academic standards, making education more accessible to lower income families and expanding college grants and loan programs. Today Riley, a senior partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, is still focused on education through his creation, EducationCounsel, which promotes progressive education reform. As of this morning, no newspaper story has ever described him as “flamboyant.” 

Tonight, we summarize his extraordinary accomplishments with three words: leadership in law. Dick was not able to attend the event this evening, but we are proud to acknowledge his many accomplishments with this award.

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