Posted in: Lawyers Young Lawyers Division, Awards


Joseph Bias and Tommy Preston come from different backgrounds but work towards the same goal—serving their communities and making an impact on future generations. Both young lawyers dedicate their time to improving the profession, completing tasks with positivity and helping those around them. These very characteristics are why Bias and Preston will jointly receive the 2019 Young Lawyer of the Year award.

Managing attorney for the liability department of Vernis & Bowling’s Columbia office, Bias displays impressive work inside the courtroom, but he is being honored for the lives he’s touched away from the bench.

Bias believes in giving back to his community and has volunteered as an attorney coach for Middle and High School Mock Trial teams since 2008. He started his alma mater Richland Northeast High School’s Mock Trial Team and coaches the USC Black Law Student Mock Trial Team. In the YLD, Bias has previously served as co-chair for the Protecting Our Youth Committee. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

“On any given Saturday or Sunday, high schoolers, their parents and their siblings are spending hours with Joseph learning about the law, and perhaps, more importantly about what being a young lawyer in South Carolina means,” says Laura Robinson, a colleague at Vernis & Bowling, who nominated Bias for the award.

That impact is far-reaching, adds Brett Bayne, another colleague.

“Joseph’s hard work and diligent effort have seen countless students graduate high school, go to college and even go to law school—accomplishments that are unquestionably driven by the mentorship and compassion he showed to his students,” Bayne says.

To the South, Young Lawyer of the Year Tommy Preston serves as director of national strategy and engagement at Boeing in Charleston. Born a leader, Preston quickly worked his way up in any organization he’s joined and is now the national chair of the American Bar Association YLD. In 2018, he helped organize the ABA YLD’s annual meeting in the Holy City.

Preston also maximized the work of lawyers to impact the community. A founding member of the University of South Carolina literacy outreach program Cocky’s Reading Express, he enlisted the help of the SC Bar YLD. Because of Preston’s efforts to connect young lawyers to this initiative, each year, dozens of attorneys visit elementary schools across the state to read and distribute books to children. More than 130,000 books have been donated thanks to this project.

“To make a significant impact on improving child literacy in South Carolina while at the same time introducing many young lawyers to public service epitomizes what the South Carolina Young Lawyer of the Year should represent,” says Will Johnson, who nominated Preston for the award.

Preston is a proud Gamecock, a Pickens County native and a Charleston lover. Every day he works, he strives to help those around him and better the profession.

“One often hears the phrase ‘he’s going places’ with respect to talented young professionals,” Johnson adds. “In Tommy’s case, he has already ‘gone places’ and has accomplishments that most people would be proud to achieve in a lifetime. However, his work has just begun. I do not know exactly what the future holds for Tommy Preston, but I do know that Tommy will continue making a positive impact in South Carolina and in the legal community for many years to come.”

Both of these men truly exemplify what it means to represent the YLD in the most outstanding manner throughout South Carolina and the nation.

“The SC Bar and the YLD congratulate Joseph and Tommy,” says YLD President Ashleigh Wilson. “Both of these young men are driven by their passion, and we’re very happy to celebrate them.”

Bias and Preston will be honored at the House of Delegates meeting in May.