Raise your hand if you listened to “Serial.” (We know you raised your hand.) Now, raise your hand if, after listening to “Serial,” you all of a sudden realized that you know way less about the judicial system than you thought you did. There’s a reason the podcast is the most popular in all of podcast history, and that’s because it has everyone and their mom discussing justice.
A good person to talk to about justice? Thomas Rode. He’s a civil litigation lawyer who also works in criminal defense, is a member of the Ambassador Board of the South Carolina Bar Foundation and is also an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law. While his resume is impressive, it’s his approach and attitude toward his work that makes him stand out. His opinions toward the justice system are strong, and his actions are stronger.
Rode makes a very complicated job (that takes a lot of guts!) sound easy when he says, “a criminal defense lawyer represents the innocence of all people…everyone deserves a voice regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. In doing this, we protect the integrity of the justice system to ensure it can do its job—protecting the innocent.” Mic drop.
It is immediately obvious that Mr. Rode knows what he’s talking about. Whether working in civil litigation, criminal defense, or teaching at the School of Law, he is shedding light on the importance of giving all people, especially those who are marginalized, a voice. He is quick to note the hard work of all lawyers and the roles they play in their communities, often unseen.
“I feel that all lawyers have this notion of ‘we have a duty to the community as a whole to try and make it better.’”
And, with his passion for the community, it’s no doubt that he is living up to this notion.
Words by: Virginia Kerr
Photographer: Landon Neil Phillips
Stylist: Dalia Dalili
Hair/Make-Up: Bailey Bial
Photo Assistants: Jenny Kleiman, Kayla Morrisey, Kyle Victory, Gordon Keiter, and Erica Griffiths