Reporting Your Pro Bono Hours

Seeking Comments from South Carolina Attorneys!

The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Committee and the South Carolina Supreme Court Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission are seeking input on proposed changes to Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (SCACR 407).

This rule concerns the provision of pro bono service to individuals of limited means or public service/charitable organizations. The proposed changes include the creation of a reporting mechanism for pro bono hours and a requirement that those hours be reported to the Bar.

Pro bono participation remains voluntary.

Click here to view the proposed changes to the rule. Should Rule 6.1 be amended in the future, the Bar would provide additional information to facilitate the reporting.

Please send comments on the proposed changes to Cindy Coker, Public Services Director or Stuart Andrews, Vice- Chair of the SCATJ Commission.

Comments should be received no later than Friday, November 5.

Why I do Pro Bono . . .

Why do I do pro bono? This is a question I’m frequently asked.

Here are some of my responses:

1. I like to do it. It makes me feel good. When I help someone with a legal issue/problem, I feel GREAT!

2. Often, it exposes me to new people. If there’s a pro bono project, chances are I’ll meet at least one new person.

3. It’s part of my responsibility as an attorney. See Rule 6.1.

4. I learn something new EACH TIME! Whether I learn a new area of the law, a tidbit about a particular part of the state, a new technology, a new organization that’s helping people, etc.

5. Often, I get to teach something to someone. Yup, that’s right. I get to be a teacher. And, that’s pretty cool. I always liked playing school as a child – especially when I got to play the teacher. So here’s my opportunity to re-enact one of my favorite childhood pastimes.

6. I can hone up on my “lawyering” skills. That’s right, it’s called a “law practice” for a reason, right? And I need to practice, right?

Why do you do pro bono?

-RFW

South Carolina Attorneys: Do you have malpractice for that 608 appointment?

. . .

Ok, every South Carolina attorney I know is tired of dredging up Rule 608. However, there continues to be a LOT of discussion around Rule 608, including the Attorney Volunteer Guardian ad Litem project.

Last November/December, the Supreme Court of South Carolina made several changes to Rule 608 appointments, some advocated by the SC Bar, some via recommendations submitted by the SC Access to Justice Commission. And just recently we learned that the funds to reimburse attorneys providing legal representation pursuant to a Rule 608 appointment are no longer available.

BUT I do have some news that may be of interest to the average South Carolina attorney!

If you (SC Attorney) follow appropriate protocol[1], you (SC Attorney) are eligible for malpractice coverage for your Rule 608 appointment.

Here’s what I have do:

  1. I receive my Rule 608 appointment, either by U.S. Mail or Fax or email.
  2. That day I complete my Pro Bono Program Direct Intake Form. Please follow the instructions to either fax the form to Attn: Rose Dean, (803) 799-5290 OR mail to Attn: Rose Dean, South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, P.O. Box 608, Columbia, SC 29202.
  3. With 1 week, I receive a response from Ms. Rose Dean with a South Carolina Bar Program Closure Form.
  4. If I do NOT receive a response from Ms. Dean within one week, I resend the information.

Good luck fellow attorneys!

-RFW


[1] From the SC Bar’s website – http://www.scbar.org/member_resources/pro_bono_program/

Malpractice insurance
Pro Bono lawyers who take case referrals, serve as LAMP volunteers, participate in Ask-A-Lawyer and lead free legal clinics are automatically covered on every Pro Bono case accepted! Lawyers who do pro bono legal work on their own, or who are appointed pursuant to Rule 608, are also covered by malpractice insurance through the Pro Bono Program. To initiate this coverage, complete the Pro Bono Intake form (see link above) and fax it to Rose Dean at 803-799-5290. You must submit the form to Ms. Dean before commencing work on the client’s case. [emphasis added]

Have you signed up?

If you’re an attorney who wants to know Everything about Everything, then you want to sign up for the SC Bar CLE entitled “Everything You Want To Know About Everything.”

It will be held LIVE in Columbia at the USC School of Law Auditorium, Columbia, South Carolina and via video-CLE Satellite at the following 11 locations around the state:

The speakers will cover topics from Sentencing to DUI to Self-Represented Litigants to Ethics. I hope to see you there!

-RFW

Rule 608 Session Added to the SC Bar Convention

HEAR YE, HEAR YE,

RULE 608 HAS BEEN AMENDED!

With recent changes to Rule 608, the SC Access to Justice Commission and the SC Bar Convention staff met and decided to add a session reviewing the changes.

If you are already attending the SC Bar Convention, please consider adding this to your list of MUST ATTEND sessions. If you are not already planning to attend, you may wish to reconsider!

There is an excellent panel that will present on the history of Rule 608, the recent changes, the effect of these changes on the SC Commission on Indigent Defense, and perspectives from the SC Legislature. The session will be moderated by Richard Willis of Bowman and Brooke LLP.

Pre-registration is requested.

Bowman and Brooke LLP is sponsoring a box lunch for attendees.

To pre-register please send an email to jmerrill@scbar.org.

Speakers are:

  • Bradish Waring, Chair of the SC Bar’s Rule 608 Task Force;
  • Stuart Andrews, Vice-Chair of the SC Access to Justice Commission;
  • Hugh Ryan, Deputy Director of the SC Commission on Indigent Defense; and
  • Senator Gerald Malloy of the SC Senate and attorney member of the SC Commission on Indigent Defense.

For more information, click here.

-RFW

Elkins Family Law Task Force Recommendations Open for Comment

On October 2, 2009, the Elkins Family Law Task Force released its draft recommendations for ways to improve access to justice in the California Family Court system.

The public comment period is October 1, 2009, through December 4, 2009.

The draft recommendations and an online comment form are available at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/tflists/elkins.htm.

In addition, the task force will hold two public hearings to receive in-person comments on the draft recommendations. The public hearings will be held on Thursday, October 22 in San Francisco, and on Tuesday, October 27 in Los Angeles. For information and to sign up to participate in the public hearings, go to www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/tflists/elkins.htm.

To learn more about the Task Force, view the FACT SHEET.

It’s evident from the List of Topics (below) that the Task Force worked hard to review the entire system:

1. Right to Present Live Testimony at Hearings
2. Expanding Legal Representation and Providing a Continuum of Legal Services
3. Caseflow Management
4. Providing Clear Guidance Through Rules of Court
5. Children’s Voices
6. Domestic Violence
7. Enhancing Safety
8. Contested Child Custody
9. Minor’s Counsel
10. Scheduling of Trials and Long-Cause Hearings
11. Litigant Education
12. Expanding Services to Assist Litigants in Resolving Their Cases
13. Streamlining Family Law Forms and Procedures
14. Enhancing Mechanisms to Handle Perjury
15. Standardize Default and Uncontested Process Statewide
16. Interpreters
17. Public Information and Outreach
18. Judicial Branch Education
19. Family Law Research Agenda
20. Court Facilities
21. Leadership, Accountability, and Resources

The SC Access to Justice Commission will continue to follow the project and update you as it develops.

-RFW

220 years and counting . . .

Today in history . . .

September 25, 1789 – Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known today as the Bill of Rights, were first proposed. It may be interesting to note that even back then, it took a little over two years (December 15, 1791) to ratify most of them.

If you are unsure how history holds relevance today, consider this sampling:

1st AmendmentFree Speech

2nd AmendmentSecurity of a Free State

5th AmendmentPleading the Fifth (against self-incrimination)

6th Amendment Gideon v. Wainwright (right to counsel)

10th AmendmentState sovereignty

Sometimes it helps to look back, just so we can look forward – with apologies to George Santayana

Thanks to our founding fathers for having the foresight to draft this important document.

-RFW