Sarah Leverette, one of the first female lawyers in South Carolina and a longstanding legal and social influencer, is being recognized for her life’s work of improving the lives of fellow South Carolinians.
The S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center is honoring 97-year-old Leverette with the 2017 Rev. Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney Award for Justice.
The award recognizes Leverette as an influential advocate for equal rights for women in the law and in the community.
Leverette graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1943 as the only woman in her class and just the third woman ever to graduate from the school at the time.
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She defied many of the expectations for women of her time to become a woman admired in the South Carolina legal profession as influential and a trailblazer.
She worked for a quarter-century as the first female faculty member at USC’s law school before serving as commissioner and chairwoman of the S.C. Industrial Commission (now the Workers Compensation Commission). She also led the influential League of Women Voters.
Some of the state’s most powerful legal figures, including current and former state Supreme Court chief justices, have looked up to Leverette and praised her work of bettering South Carolina.
Leverette has helped influence decisions on local, state and national public policy issues ranging from library bonds to nuclear waste dumping. And she worked with the League of Women Voters in the 1960s to push for the right of women to serve on juries in South Carolina.
Former S.C. chief justice Jean Toal, the state’s first female chief justice, once said of Leverette, “I tell her, ‘I want to grow up to be just like you.’”
Leverette will be honored by the Appleseed center at a reception Sept. 26.