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Awards

William C. Hubbard, Esquire



"People think of leaders as men devoted to service, and by service they mean that these men serve their followers…. The real leader serves truth, not people." J.B. Yeats

The important topic of leadership has long been a focus for William C. Hubbard, the 2007 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award winner for the Fourth Circuit. When he used the above quote in an article he wrote in 1987, he perhaps subconsciously revealed a part of his own leadership philosophy—a philosophy that has led to a lifetime of service. His remarkable record of volunteer service and distinguished accomplishments as a lawyer bear testament to his acclaimed reputation as a leader, grounded in steadfast commitment to truth.

Mr. Hubbard began his career-long commitment to truth and professionalism by serving as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Chapman (later a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit), who himself is a beacon of professionalism and ethics. In support of Mr. Hubbard’s nomination, Judge Chapman wrote that "William is a gentleman, and a gentle man…who treats everyone inside and outside the courtroom with kindness and respect." As a matter of fact, the previous twelve presidents of the John Belton O’Neall American Inn of Court in Columbia, South Carolina, all joined together in nominating Mr. Hubbard for this Professionalism Award. The common refrain: "William Hubbard exemplified all that is great about the legal profession, and his career is an example to every lawyer of civility, competence, and ethical attitude in all things." Recognized as a ferocious competitor in the courtroom, he zealously advocates for client causes; but he always earns the respect and friendship of adversaries sitting at opposing counsel’s table.

A native of Florence, South Carolina, Mr. Hubbard was named a Carolina Scholar, an honor which led him to stay at the University of South Carolina for both his undergraduate and law degrees. In addition to graduating magna cum laude, he received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, South Carolina’s highest student accolade.

Mr. Hubbard joined the prestigious law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Columbia, South Carolina, and today chairs the firm's business litigation and employment law group. At his firm, he helped spearhead the firm’s initiatives to improve character, competence and conduct in the legal profession through its sponsorship of the renowned Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough Center on Professionalism at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Mr. Hubbard is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American Judicature Society, and a permanent member of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference. In 2003, he was elected to the Council of the American Law Institute, where he now serves on the executive committee.

Beyond his universally lauded lawyering skills, Mr. Hubbard has contributed a lifetime of unselfish service to a long list of civic causes. Hubbard is a longtime member of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, serving as its chair from 1996 to 2000. Other service has included president of the area Council of Boy Scouts and Voices for South Carolina's Children, an organization that promotes quality early childhood education. In 2002, South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges presented Hubbard with the state’s highest civilian award, the Order of the Palmetto.

Known and widely respected for his responsibilities within the American Bar Association, he began his association with the ABA as a leader in the Young Lawyers Division, eventually becoming its chair. That position won him recognition as the 1986 Young Lawyer of the Year by the South Carolina Bar. He has also served on the ABA's Special Coordinating Committee on Professionalism, the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and has been president of the American Bar Endowment. He was also an extremely effective chair of the Rules and Calendar Committee of the ABA House of Delegates—one of the House’s most demanding jobs. Currently, he is the chair of a new initiative called the World Justice Project, a multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law, both at home and abroad.

A family man, his primary leisure activities include doing things at home and in the community with his wife, Kappy, and enjoying the occasional but wonderful visits home of his three children. Part of his happiness has always been finding some measure of balance between his public life and his personal life—a lesson for all young, aspiring lawyer-leaders.

"True leadership rests on something more important than birth or external events. It begins with the cultivation of values, of moral principles." Written by Mr. Hubbard in that same 1987 article with the opening quote, these insights are genuine evidence that he speaks from experience. His example of service, of professionalism, of commitment to truth is the very ideal that the American Inns of Court seeks to highlight as a path for all lawyers to follow.