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winter 2018
Charles Reid

Wofford and the Law

Charles Reid ’90: Running the South Carolina House of Representatives

As clerk of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Charles Reid ’90 runs the place.

“It’s a historical title,” says Reid. “A lot of people think I just take minutes.”

In reality, Reid directs a staff of more than 100 people, serves as senior attorney and chief operating officer, manages a $22 million budget and maintains order as the parliamentarian when the House is in session.

The clerk is not a member of the House but is elected by the membership. Reid was elected in 2004 and has been in service ever since.

“It can be daunting at times,” says Reid, “but it’s an interesting job, and I learn something new every day. That’s why I’m still at it after 14 years. My hair has turned white, and my eyes are gone, but I love the people, and I’ve seen a lot of history made.”
A Wofford philosophy professor encouraged Reid to consider law school. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1993 then tried environmental law. He went on to serve as an assistant South Carolina attorney general and legal counsel to the speaker of the House, then was with the McNair Law Firm before becoming clerk.

“I loved history, research, writing and analytical thinking,” says Reid. “I enjoyed taking different sides of an issue and figuring things out from different positions. I wanted to find the best answer, not necessarily the only answer.”

When Reid graduated from Wofford and even from law school, he never expected to be doing what he’s doing today.

“I don’t enjoy politics, but I enjoy policy and process,” he says. “As the clerk, I don’t associate with a single political party. Instead I look at issues and analyze. The House staff is nonpartisan. Individual staff persons may have political leanings, but when they step foot on this campus, they put their personal preferences aside.”

In his office, however, Reid makes his college preferences abundantly clear. As a third-generation Wofford graduate, he has a Wofford wall with his framed diploma, a Wofford pennant, a print of Old Main and his grandfather’s senior photo from 1916. Reid’s father, the Rev. Dr. William C. Reid ’55, now deceased, was a minister in the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and the president of the student body at Wofford. His grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Toy F. Reid ’16, was also a United Methodist minister. Reid may not have followed their vocational path, but he firmly believes God has had a hand in his current career.

“I never thought I’d be doing something like this,” he says. “I never would have believed it, but God puts us in places. You’ll be surprised at what you can do and what you enjoy doing if you just try new things.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89