Guest Blogger: Jeff Yungman

The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty recently met in Charleston to discuss issues surrounding homelessness and veterans. The following is a brief description about the meeting written by one of the panelists, Jeff Yungman of Charleston.

Stepping Up Justice for Veterans as They Stand Down:  Innovative Approaches Courts and Lawyers are Advancing to Help Veterans

The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty presented a program at the Charleston School of LawPaul Freese moderated the program that included presentations by Paul, Jeff Yungman, Antonia Fasanelli, Sara Sommarstrom, and Steve Binder.  As the title indicates, the program focused on legal issues confronting veterans.

Jeff opened the program by explaining why veterans legal issues was the topic chosen to present and current initiatives in Charleston to develop a Veterans Treatment Court and a Veterans Child Support Clinic.  Antonia described pro bono opportunities for working with veterans and the ABA’s role in expanding legal services for veterans.  Sara provided information about the veterans’ child support clinic in Minnesota that uses law students and pro bono attorneys to provide legal services.  Steve then spoke about the homeless courts, their purpose, and how they operate.  Paul ended the program by describing veterans’ treatment courts, the reasons behind the establishment of such courts, and how they function.

The program was attended primarily by law students, but attorneys from SC Legal Services, the Solicitor’s office, and the Charleston bar also attended as well as at least one Charleston Municipal Court judge.  The reaction to the program at the time, and in subsequent comments since then, have been very positive.

Fall 2010: Law School for Non-Lawyers

Law School for Non-Lawyers

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time and not just for kids!
You can go back to school too, via the SC Bar’s Law School for Non-Lawyers course.
The program is a 7-week Law School for Non-Lawyers course covering a variety of general legal subjects. The registration fee is $45 which includes course materials.

Covered topics include:

  • Overview of State Courts
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Family Law
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Child Protection Hearings
  • Wills, Estates and Probate Law
  • Health Care and Elder Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Consumer Law and Debt Collection
  • Real Estate and Landlord/Tenant Law
  • Employment Law
  • South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts

The following courses are currently scheduled:

Trident Technical College

Offered every Tuesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

September 14, 2010 through October 26, 2010

7000 Rivers Avenue, N. Charleston

Building 910, Room 123

To register, call 843-574-6152 or visit

HURRY, Registration ends September 7th

Horry/Georgetown Technical College

Every Monday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Beginning September 20, 2010 through November 1, 2010

743 Hemlock Dr., Myrtle Beach

Building 200, Room 136

To register, call 843-477-2020 or 843-349-5363 or visit

HURRY, Registration ends September 14th

For any other questions or concerns you have, please contact Debbie Morris at or 800-395-3425, ext. 158.

The Law School for Non-Lawyers is made possible through an IOLTA grant from the SC Bar Foundation.

Ed McMahon, Your Legacy Lives On

Most everyone is familiar with Ed McMahon and the American Family Publishers Sweepstakes prize.  And some of us waited patiently for him to show up at our door with balloons and an over-sized check. Watching the few lucky prize winners was always a thrill. And today I had the honor of delivering balloons and flowers to the 2009 Ellen Hines Smith South Carolina Legal Services award recipient, Maureen White.

While the official award will be presented at the SC Bar Foundation Gala on March 11, 2010, Shannon Willis Scruggs of the SC Bar Foundation, and I delivered the good news to Ms. White today at the Greenville office of South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS). And wow, what a great feeling! To say that Ms. White was surprised would be an understatement. Below you’ll see some photos as we interrupted the Thursday morning staffing.

A little more about Ms. White:

  • She started work at SCLS in March 1997;
  • During her time at SCLS, she has conquered many legal issues including landlord/tenant, divorce, consumer and disability matters;
  • She is currently the lead bankruptcy attorney within the consumer unit of SCLS; and
  • She moved to South Carolina from Ohio where she had practiced for 12 years.

A few notes from the people who nominated her:

When she started at SCLS: Almost immediately, (no one can remember exactly when), she was fully oriented to the legal aid culture and was building a diverse caseload that has grown beyond all boundaries owing to her famous zeal at case acceptance meetings.

The justice system is better for her example, energy and abundant legal skill. Her humor enlivened every case acceptance meeting.

I could not be more impressed with her professionalism and cheerful work ethic – she is uniquely motivated in her desire to help others.

Maureen’s most significant achievement on a statewide level has been her work as our Lead Bankruptcy Attorney. When SCLS’ Bankruptcy Roadshow was created by the Consumer Unit, Maureen led the way as we went around the state training SCLS attorneys to handle bankruptcy cases. We significantly increased the number of attorneys handling bankruptcy and the number of clients being served by SCLS filing bankruptcy for them.

Meet Ms. Maureen White:

Once again – congratulations Maureen White!

And Ed McMahon – thanks for the inspiration . . . it’s a lot of fun to surprise people with flowers, balloons, and good news!


Why did I become a lawyer?

Most of us begin to fashion a response  to the question when we’re asked “Why do YOU want to go to law school?” And if you’re surrounded by friends who are not in the legal profession, you may hear the follow-up “You’re such a nice person. Why do you want to change?”

I replied “I want to help people.” And you know what? Many attorneys in the public interest sector answered similarly.

You may not generally think of attorneys as helpful, but take a few moments to ponder “when do I or would I use an attorney?”

  • When a family member dies. Hopefully they’ve drafted a will, but either way, we often turn to an attorney to help us through the probate process.
  • When we go through a divorce. Sure there are divorce forms and packets available online (and in South Carolina, there are court-approved forms online), but when we think about it, isn’t it prudent to let someone who is not emotionally involved in our marriage take a look and advise us about the long-term effects of the dissolution?
  • When we buy or sell a house. This may not seem like an emotional time, but for many it is. This is one of the largest purchases (ok, probably the largest) we will ever make. We commit to this home for the next 30 years or so. Sounds like a good time to have an attorney research the title and make sure we’re paying for what is rightfully ours.
  • When we are accused of a crime. I know I want someone well-versed in criminal law to fight for my freedom.

In other words, we use the knowledge and services of attorneys when we have big events in our lives – either when something bad has happened or may happen. To help us.

And I became an attorney to do just that – help people.


Guest Blog: Richland County CASA

Remember a few weeks back, January 13th to be precise, I posted about Richland County CASA“This is how RCCASA does it!”? Well, I’m excited to host their guest post:

Since our training presentation for the South Carolina Bar Foundation in 2008, RCCASA has continued its aggressive efforts in male recruitment. This presentation was the first of many.

RCCASA was nationally recognized for its success in the implementation of a “best practice” recruitment model and trained CASA programs across the United States that included Washington, Texas, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Florida and this year RCCASA will be presenting at the National CASA conference in 2010.

We held our own National Conference in Columbia, SC and individuals from Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Texas visited our sunny state to learn how to recruit male volunteers Although our program has celebrated successes, we find that it is an on-going effort and we continue to be faced with challenges.

As we serve more children, more male volunteers are needed.

Our program felt the impact of the economic crisis. Funding was an issue but more importantly our volunteers were greatly impacted. Many volunteers were faced with relocation and others were faced with decreasing the amount of time they could spend volunteering. Our most committed, dedicated volunteers were taking on second jobs, reentering the workforce, and volunteers who were once retired were now employed.

Beginning July 1, 2010, RCCASA will need to be able to serve 100% of the children.

We are rising to the challenge and will be increasing our recruitment efforts. We are proud of the job our volunteers have done and know that our ability to serve 100% of the children will mean these children will have a strong advocate.

So in a nutshell what does this really mean……It means that more than ever we NEED YOUR assistance in making this happen.  You may not be able to volunteer but you may have a spouse, co-worker, brother, friend, or colleague. Out biggest recruitment tool has been through word of mouth and when you tell someone about CASA, you are making a difference in the lives of the abused and neglected children in our community.

Do we need more Family Court Judges in SC?

This is the question that recently arose in New York.  According to this post, the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee recommended immediately adding 21 family court judges to the bench. The Committee’s full report is available here.

Interestingly, the reason for the increase is an increase in need due to layoffs, consumer credit, housing problems, crime, and constrained social services as well as an increase in self-represented litigants (SRLs). It is fairly well-established that SRLs typically take more time in the courtroom than those represented by counsel. And reasons vary – many SRLs are not familiar with rules of court; they want to tell their whole story in court – not simply the “relevant” parts; and they may become more emotional because they’re not only living the part of the litigant, but also increasing their stress by acting on their own.

Add to that an increased need and you have clogged courts, aka decreased access to justice.

New York recognizes the need for more Family Court judges as does the representative from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

What about South Carolina? Do we need more Family Court Judges? Take a look at two slides from the Chief Justice’s 2009 State of the Judiciary, slide 12 and slide 13.

Now imagine an increase in the number of filings, say, by 10%.

In Family Court, that would be approximately 7,500 more cases in the year. With approximately 260 workdays per year with 8 hour workdays, that would average 3.6 cases per hour – without time for administrative tasks or completing paperwork.

Now add in extra time for cases in which interpreters are needed. Either American Sign Language (ASL) or Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

What do you think? Do we need more Family Court Judges?


Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Richland County Bar Helps!

Thanks to Guest Blogger Elizabeth Cook! And my apologies for not uploading earlier.

The Richland County Bar Association is hosting a fundraiser on October 22, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to raise money for Sistercare, a local organization that provides services for battered women and their children—and we need your help!  Please join us for a shrimp boil and silent auction to benefit Sistercare on Thursday, October 22, 2009, at 6:00 at the University House.  We’re going to have a great time enjoying a delicious shrimp boil and fried chicken with fixin’s from Seawell’s, the traditional Bluegrass music of The Carolina Rebels, door prizes, and bidding on an array of auction items.

Please take the time to view this brief video to learn about victim services in South Carolina, Sistercare and how your support can help them provide much-needed legal services to battered women in the midlands.

Sistercare has lost a significant portion of its grant funding, like so many other service organizations during the recent economic downturn.  This loss of funding is directly impacting Sistercare’s ability to provide legal services and support to the women it serves.  Your tax-deductible contribution will be used to supplement Sistercare’s budget for legal work, allowing Sistercare’s attorneys and court advocates to better represent the interests of its clients.  Sistercare is dependent on donations from individuals and groups to survive right now—please consider donating to this worthy cause.

For more information about Sistercare, visit .  For more information about the shrimp boil and to make a reservation or donation, contact the Richland County Bar at 771-9801 or mail your check to Richland County Bar, PO Box 7632, Columbia, South Carolina 29202.  Thank you in advance for supporting the indispensable services provided by Sistercare.  We look forward to seeing you on October 22nd; your donation will truly make a difference!


PS – Spoke with Elizabeth Cook. They raised $3,000 for Sistercare with this fundraiser.