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Case unexpectedly brings together three members of the USC Law Class of 1977

By: Diana Smith//February 11, 2011

Case unexpectedly brings together three members of the USC Law Class of 1977

By: Diana Smith//February 11, 2011

By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer

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In 1974, Geoff Waggoner felt a tap on the shoulder while studying in the University of South Carolina’s law library.

The tall, redheaded, young law student turned around and saw a classmate standing before him.

“You Waggoner?” the inquirer asked.

“Yes,” Waggoner replied, perplexed.

That’s when Jay Gouldon, now a Charleston attorney, introduced himself – not as a member of Waggoner’s law school Class of 1977, but as a former teammate on the soccer field at Eaton Hall prep school in London 19 years earlier.

“I absolutely remembered the name, and he very quickly produced a photograph of us on the soccer team and I definitely remembered him then,” recalled Waggoner, who also practices in Charleston. “It’s a small world. To last see each other when you’re 12 or 11 and then end up together in a law library in Columbia, S.C., is pretty cool, actually.” 

But the coincidences don’t stop there.

Two weeks ago, Waggoner – a plaintiff’s lawyer – ended up in the courtroom with Gouldon, who was slated to serve as a witness for the defense.

And to top things off, the defense counsel in the case was Brad Waring, also a member of the USC Law Class of ’77.

“It was all pretty funny,” Waring said. “It was Old Home Week down there.”

Their memories together are varied. Waggoner and Gouldon can spout off anecdotes of how they separately received canings from the headmaster of the London school for misbehavior.

Remembering their time as nascent J.Ds., “we chuckled about being the second class in the new law school, which – to hear people tell it – is now an asbestos-filled pit,” said Waring, who practices at Nexsen Pruet in Charleston.

Also, “We were the last class to get out of [USC Law] before there was any training on electronic research. There was no Rule 403, which is trial experience. We had no Bridge the Gap. You just came out trying cases,” Waring said.

In their off-hours, Gouldon remembers ending up at the same parties and bars with Waggoner and Waring.

And instead of soccer, Waggoner and Waring have had their share of tennis matches.

“I jokingly tell Brad is that all I remember is beating him,” Waggoner said. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily true and I’m almost sure he won’t agree.”

Even though the case settled before Gouldon took the stand, Waring told Lawyers Weekly that although they ended up on different sides of the bar, the friendly relationships forged in the past made the courtroom situation fun, not awkward.    

“It was genteel, and I mean that in the best way,” he said. “We were still representing our clients zealously, but there was not a cross word, or any fast ones pulled, or anybody trying to get away with something. It was a lot of fun.”

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