South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal is the latest recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Clemson. The degree was bestowed on her at the December 2015 graduation ceremony in Greenville for her devotion to law, public service and the people of South Carolina. In 1988, Toal became the first woman to serve as a justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She retired as chief justice on December 21, making her the longest-serving member of the court. When she was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1968, women comprised less than one percent of the licensed lawyers in South Carolina.
Toal practiced law with the Haynsworth Law Firm in Greenville and with Belser, Baker, Barwick, Ravenel, Toal & Bender in Columbia
for 20 years prior to her election to the South Carolina Supreme Court. She served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing Richland County, for 13 years. She was the first woman in South Carolina to chair a standing committee of the House of Representatives and served as chair of the House Rules Committee and chair of the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.