Schiller & Hamilton - May 2019

WHAT LED ME HERE

WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK

How I Became a Lawyer and Gave Up My Political Career

My mom always thought I would be the governor of South Carolina someday. She could see her son, a very politically engaged student, working his way up to the governor’s mansion, but she wasn’t the only person to let me know that a career in politics might be in my future. By the time I reached middle school, I was outspoken. I was the kid who was actively engaged in class discussions about politics, and I wasn’t afraid to debate against the rest of the class. My teachers would often send home compliments about my work, but there was usually one caveat in these notes: When I finished my work early, I would distract my fellow classmates with my talking.

at The Citadel. This education gave me the foundation I would need later in law school and my career. Between The Citadel and law school, I took a gap year to work as an assistant and runner for a law firm, and while working in the lobbying department of the firm, I made a life-changing realization. I watched attorneys meet with legislators and observed how these politicians were being manipulated into supporting certain causes. I was disappointed to see this brash and cunning side of politics, and it was then that I lost all my desire for a statesman career. I loved and appreciated the support of my mother and teachers, but I wanted to use my talents and passions to make a difference. Working at that firm wasn’t a total wash, though. I learned valuable skills, and I met my wife, Karoline, there. But in law school, I was shown the value of the compassionate career I craved. While attending the South Carolina School of Law, I clerked for a personal injury law firm for more than two years, and I saw how these attorneys changed their clients’ lives with their expertise. In some cases, these lawyers were the difference between families going hungry and being able to put food on their tables. I was overwhelmed by the love these clients showed their lawyers, and I knew that’s what I was meant to do. During my 25 years of practice, I have worked hard to put the needs of my clients first and to build a law firm that wants to serve others as if they were a part of our own family. Karoline and I have been married for 27 years now, and we’re the proud parents of four children who we adopted on the same day. In my spare time, I ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle, spend time with local biker groups that raise money for various causes, and enjoy living on the coast with my family.

It was actually my eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Dantzler, who made me seriously consider a career in law and politics. It wasn’t that I was particularly

May 2019

argumentative, but she was the first person to

notice that my gusto for conversation could be used to really help people. However, the only way I could afford a college education was by earning scholarships. So, I became the class president, I was captain of the track and cross- country teams, and I did everything I could to earn my way to The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. As a teenager, working hard to achieve goals was not a foreign concept to me. When I was just 8 years old, my father moved our family from Griffin, Georgia, to Columbia, South Carolina, so he could attend Columbia Bible College. He would attend class from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., work in the mill until 11 p.m., come home to his studies, and get up the next morning to do it again — all to provide a better life for my sister, my mom, and me. He exemplified a strong work ethic. With an academic scholarship to The Citadel, I was able to continue my education after high school. I was taught the value of responsibility, leadership, performing accurately under pressure, and time management by my fellow cadets and my teachers

803.366.0333 197 S Herlong Avenue Rock Hill, SC 29732 843.379.5006 78 Sams Point Road Beaufort, SC 29907 803.285.2900 302 N Main St c Lancaster, SC 29720 843.341.9418 16 William Pope Drive Suites 101 & 103 Bluffton, SC 29909

But one thing hasn’t changed since middle school: I still value serving and advocating for others.

At Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm, we would like to wish every mom a very happy Mother’s Day. The dedication and support you show your families is unparalleled and so appreciated. –Bennett Schiller III

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