A leader from early on...
Even as a young student, it was evident that Tommy Preston is a standout. He grew up in Clemson, SC and led student government groups, the drama club, the French society and the school newspaper. When it came time to choose a college, he chose his own way. Much to the dismay of his Tiger-fan family, he selected the University of South Carolina where he was a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar.
At age 22, then-University of South Carolina President, Dr. Andrew Sorensen hired Tommy to serve as the Special Assistant to the President for Government and Community Relations. In this role, Tommy served as a university liaison to local, state, and national governments and developed and maintained the university's various partnerships in the community and across the state. He would serve in this role until he graduated from law school.In Law School and College...
In law school, Tommy became passionate about improving justice in our country and got active in the American Bar Association. During his third year of law school, he was elected the national Student Representative on the ABA Board of Governors, where he was the first person of color to serve in this national position. He also served on the Task Force on the Preservation of the Justice System, which was co-chaired by famed attorneys, Ted Olson and David Boies.
As an undergraduate, he served as Student Body President, was the student member on the University's Board of Trustees, and served as a student advisor to the US Department of Education. After learning about the significant problems with illiteracy in the state, he founded Cocky's Reading Express, a statewide literacy initiative that provides books to thousands of children in South Carolina.About his Law practice
As a lawyer, Tommy is committed to helping make South Carolina a more prosperous state. As an associate in the firm's Public Policy and Governmental Affairs and Economic Development groups, Tommy regularly represents businesses and organizations on legislative, regulatory, public finance, and economic development matters. Tommy believes that South Carolina's economic, social, and political environment makes our state the ideal place for companies, and sees his job as helping clients navigate the various state channels to eventually invest and create jobs in the state.
In addition to practicing law, Tommy is still very active in the community. He currently serves as the Chair of the University of South Carolina Board of Visitors; the youngest and first person of color to Chair the Board. He is President of the Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association. He is on the Carolina Alumni Association Board of Governors, the Board of Sistercare, Inc, among others. Tommy is also active in the American Bar Association, where he serves in multiple national roles.
Recognitions•President Bush's Student Service Award
•South Carolina Literacy Leader Award
•Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
•Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship Recipient
NotableIn May of 2014, the South Carolina Legislature adopted a concurrent resolution honoring Tommy on becoming President Elect of the University of South Carolina Alumna Association and both Chambers also honored him on June 4th.
•Co-authored the state's data center tax exemption bill that has been credited for making the state more competitive in attracting investment-heavy internet-infrastructure projects.
•Authored legislation to protect Timeshare consumers from third-party fraud.
•Part of the team responsible for working with the Boeing Company to secure economic development incentives for their upcoming expansion in South Carolina.
•Counsel for developer in negotiating governmental incentives for a major residential and commercial development project in Columbia, South Carolina.
•Represented a national company before a State Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR) Commission.
Outside Nexsen Pruet
Tommy knew from a young age that he had an interest in politics. His first political memory was sitting Indian-style on the floor in Ms. Guffee's second grade, watching President Bill Clinton being sworn in as President. Since that time, Tommy has been active in politics, ranging from having the honor of representing South Carolina at the prestigious Boys Nation conference in Washington, DC; interning on Capitol Hill and the SC State House; and even running for office himself at the University of South Carolina, where he served as Student Body Treasurer and President.
From reading the newest political biographies, volunteering for and raising money for candidates, advising elected officials on policy matters, to visiting historical sites around the country, Tommy considers himself a history buff and political aficionado.
Tommy and his wife, Felicia, whom he met in law school, reside in Columbia, SC and are members of Midtown fellowship Church. In their free time, they enjoy traveling, cooking, wine-tasting, and spending time with family and friends.
Speaking & Writing
Related NewsNexsen Pruet Hosts Color of Justice Program
May 1, 2013
•Nexsen Pruet Selects Diversity Scholarship Recipients
October 24, 2013
•Carolina Alum Compare Notes on Their Student Government Presidencies
August 1, 2013
•Tommy Preston Elected Chair of USC Board of Visitors
October 21, 2013
•New dreams, dreamed from atop the shoulders of giants
January 21, 2014
•Amy Clayton and Tommy Preston named to 20 Under 40
February 18, 2014
•Tommy Preston Invited to White House for Launch of My Brother's Keeper Initiative
February 27, 2014
•Tommy Preston Shares Insight with SCETV on Literacy in South Carolina
February 27, 2014
•Tommy Preston: My Brother's Keeper Transcends Politics
March 4, 2014
•Notes from the White House
March 11, 2014
•Tommy Preston Named 40 Under 40 Recipient
April 8, 2014
•Tommy Preston Elected President-Elect of USC Alumni Association
May 8, 2014
•Tommy Preston discusses My Brother's Keeper
June 6, 2014 Related InsightsWeekly Update from the State House - January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - January 24, 2014
January 24, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - February 7, 2014
February 7, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - February 21, 2014
February 21, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - February 28, 2014
February 28, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - March 7, 2014
March 7, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - March 14, 2014
March 14, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - March 21, 2014
March 21, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - March 28, 2014
March 28, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - April 4, 2014
April 4, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - April 14, 2014
April 14, 2014
•Weekly Update from the State House - April 17, 2014
April 17, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - May, 2, 2014
May 2, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - May 9, 2014
May 9, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - May 16, 2014
May 16, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - May 23, 2014
May 23, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - June 6, 2014
June 6, 2014
•Weekly Update from the SC State House - June 20, 2014
June 20, 2014OverviewHosted the SC Bar Young Lawyers Division's Color of Justice program at Nexsen Pruet's Columbia office.
•Tommy Preston, '07, '11: Champion for South Carolina - Tommy is featured in a MyCarolina Alumni Association's Member Profile.
•Founded Cocky's Reading Express (CRE), which got its own set of wheels in 2012. It was featured on ESPNU in 2011.
•Spoke toABA Now about how he helped win voting rights for to the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association.