The Honorable David Walker Harwell, retired Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of South Carolina, is special counsel to Bell Legal Group. Justice Harwell brings more than 50 years of legal experience to the firm, including 21 years of service as a South Carolina Circuit Court Judge and Justice for the South Carolina Supreme Court, 10 years of service in the South Carolina Legislature, and 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney.
Currently, Justice Harwell practices in the areas of mediation and arbitration as part of his ommitment to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a means of conflict resolution that he was instrumental in bringing to South Carolina.
Justice Harwell graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1958, where he distinguished himself as a member of the editorial board for the South Carolina Law Review. Following law school, he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1963 until 1973, where he was an active member of the Judiciary Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. He also served as chairman of the S.C. Agricultural Study Committee.
Beginning in 1973, Justice Harwell served as a resident circuit court judge in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, comprised of Florence and Marion counties. As a circuit court judge, he graduated from the National College of State Trial Judges at the University of Nevada in 1973 and the American Academy of Judicial Education at the University of Colorado in 1976. Judge Harwell joined the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1980 and served as an associate justice until 1991, when he was elected Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. He served as Chief Justice for three years prior to retirement.
During his time on the bench, Judge Harwell approved the use of genetic testing in criminal cases, recognized battered women’s syndrome as a defense, and tried the first death penalty case after the death penalty was restored in 1976. Justice Harwell’s tenure on the bench has been described as accessible, innovative, and visionary with his push for mediation as a means of dispute resolution, his reform in the judicial discipline system, and his support of the courtroom live-camera rule.
In January 2014, Justice Harwell was presented with the C. C. “Cotton” Harness III Peace Award by the South Carolina Bar in recognition for his leadership in developing alternative dispute resolution in South Carolina. He has also received the prestigious Order of the Palmetto from Gov. David Beasley and the Reid Montgomery Freedom of Information Award from the South Carolina Press Association for opening South Carolina’s courtrooms to cameras.
Justice Harwell has participated in the John Manville Asbestos Trust Arbitration Training as well as the Fibreboard Corporation Trust Training and serves as an arbitrator for the John Manville Trust, the Eagle Picher Trust, and the Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust. He is a Fellow in the American College of Civil Trial Mediators and he enjoys a national reputation as a mediator, arbitrator, and writer/speaker on ADR. He serves as a neutral in all areas of complex civil litigation, including high-level personal injury, employment, construction, environmental, product liability, business interruption, commercial, and contractual disputes. Justice Harwell is the former co-chairman of South Carolina's ADR Committee, a member of the American Bar Association's Section on Dispute Resolution, and has completed the mediation and arbitration training courses as well as many other ADR seminars and symposiums. Justice Harwell has served as a mediator trainer for the U.S. Department of Justice at the National Advocacy Center and is a certified mediator and arbitrator in both State and Federal Courts.