For more than a decade, Whitney B. Harrison has pursued her dream of helping people she will never meet. At first blush, this goal may seem strange because we generally think of service as grounded in intimate, one-on-one experiences. But for Harrison, a lawyer practicing in Columbia, SC, this goal provides a more expansive opportunity to help a greater portion of our population through the rule of law.
While clerking for the Honorable Aphrodite K. Konduros, Judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, and later as a law clerk for the Honorable Kaye G. Hearn, Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, Harrison developed her passion for appellate practice. Through those experiences she recognized that appellate practice could be an avenue to serve others for a lifetime by tackling issues that transcend one person or case.
Harrison has more than realized her goal through her work on landmark cases with legal issues ranging from constitutional challenges involving due process to child custody and arbitration. Most recently, she and a seasoned trial team, represented over two-thirds of South Carolina citizens in litigation surrounding the failed nuclear project in Jenkinsville, S.C. Harrison led the customers’ constitutional challenge to a law requiring customers to advance the cost of nuclear construction and later argued for the return of billions of dollars to customers, both of which served as key components in two settlements.
Because of these efforts and her dedication to service, Harrison has been named the 2020 Outstanding Young Alumna. The honor is presented to an alumna under 40 years of age, as the award year begins, who shows early competence within the chosen field of endeavor and exceptional promise of future achievement.
The award is one among several for Harrison this year. In January, she became the first woman to receive the South Carolina Bar’s Trial and Appellate Advocacy Award. The award, not given annually, recognizes members of the Bar who have shown dedication to furthering the art and techniques of trial and appellate advocacy in South Carolina, outstanding and exemplary skill and conduct in their practice of advocacy, and have devoted substantial time and effort to the education and training of lawyers.
In March, The State newspaper recognized Harrison among their Top 20 Under 40 honorees. Most recently, Harrison was named to Columbia Business Monthly’s Best and Brightest 35 and Under.
Outside of the courtroom, Harrison is active in her community, serving on the Boards of S.C. Appleseed, S.C. Bar Foundation, S.C. Association of Justice, and the Supreme Court Historical Society.
When asked what goal she would turn her sights to next, she explained that she views her goal as one that will take a lifetime because there is always more that can and should be done. “John V. Griffith, former president of Presbyterian College, told me to remember we are heirs of cities we did not build,” Harrison said. “With our grand inheritances come a responsibility to serve our communities with our time and talents to ensure that those who follow us will receive the same. If we remain steadfast to serving and caring for one another, there are no limits to the cities we can furnish our heirs.”
Harrison graduated with honors from PC with a degree in history, and served as class president her junior and senior years. She went on to earn her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She served as vice president of the Student Bar Association and started an annual Service Day effort to show incoming law students the value of serving others. Harrison is an attorney with McGowan, Hood & Felder LLC, in Columbia, S.C.