Second trip through SC law school graduation ceremony seemed destined

jholleman@thestate.comMay 9, 2014 

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When 25-year-old Brann Fowler walks across the stage to accept his diploma from the University of South Carolina Law School on Friday, it’ll be his second time around.

He doesn’t remember the first, back in 1990 in the arms of his mother, but the photo of little Brann in his cap and gown is etched in family lore. His mother, Deborah Malphrus, felt the little guy who was born during her second-year exams and went to class with her much of her third year deserved to walk with her.

“I felt like he was with me in classes, he was such a part of me through law school,” said Malphrus, now a family court judge in the Lowcountry. “All of my classmates knew him. It was a great experience.”

Fowler’s grandfather Joseph N. Malphrus was an attorney, as is his uncle Joseph Jr. He seemed destined from the start to go into law.

“He had a brief period, when he was about 5 years old, when he thought he wanted to be a paleontologist,” Malphrus said.

Brann’s after-school hours as a child were spent at the family’s law practice in Jasper County. When he was old enough to do a little work but not old enough for a driver’s license, he began delivering legal papers on his bike.

“I’ve hung around law offices all my life,” Fowler said. “It just seemed natural to me.”

He did his undergrad years at Furman before taking the family path to USC’s law school. Several of his USC professors told him they taught his mother and his uncle.

But Fowler is prepared to break one family tradition, at least for now. He’s applying for clerkships with judges in the Upstate, a place he fell in love with during his undergrad days. His mom, however, suspects the Lowcountry might call him back some day.

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