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.

My Name is Earl (er, Tropical Storm Earl)

My Name is Earl

Many thanks to Stormpulse for the screen-shot!

And apologies to the tv show “My Name is Earl” (I always enjoyed you!)

It’s that time again – Hurricane Season time –  time to address Emergency Preparedness.

The first thing to address is to be prepared (the boy scout motto holds true to this day) or READY, as in ready.gov. On ready.gov, you’ll see that you need to Prepare, Plan and Stay Informed. And, the information is available in multiple languages including Chinese – 中文, French – Francais, Haitian – Creole, Korean – 한국의, Russian – русский язык, Spanish – Español, Tagalog – Tagalog, Vietnamese – tiẽng việt, and Urdu –  اردو.

And September (which starts next week) is National Preparedness Month.

With that in mind, safety comes first. So you may want to visit the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) to learn about what’s new and to stay informed on events in South Carolina. Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains current information throughout the United States.

If you need legal assistance, there’s a website designed especially for you – the National Disaster Legal Aid website!

If you’re a South Carolina attorney looking to PREPARE, then there’s great information available on the SC Bar’s website – Prepare: Disaster and Emergency Preparedness.

Good luck!

-RFW

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 www.tridenttech.edu

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 www.hgtc.edu

HURRY, Registration ends September 14th

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

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

Alex Hegji – Presidential Management Fellow!

Remember Alexandra D. “Alex” Hegji, the first law clerk for the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission? Well, she graduated this year. And she graduated with a JOB. And she moved to Washington, D.C. to start her job. This I knew.

However, when I was out at the Equal Justice Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, I ran into Pamela D. Robinson, the director of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program. (yes, I know – it’s bad when it takes running into a local at a national conference many miles away) That’s when I learned that Alex was a Presidential Management Fellow!

How cool is that!?!?!

She’ll be working at Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is charged with ensuring a safe work environment under the OSH Act of 1970.

Congratulations Alex!

– RFW

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!

-RFW

8.24.09 Ask-A-Lawyer: Nosy’s Report

8/24/09 Ask-A-Lawyer Call Center at WLTX
8/24/09 Ask-A-Lawyer Call Center at WLTX

On Monday Night, WLTX became ground zero for ASK-A-LAWYER. We arrived in time to start and learned that the calls had started as early as 4:30 p.m. Once we were shown our call-center, we started answering phones “Ask-A-Lawyer, how may I help you?” while our web counter-parts began their online-duty.

Jeff Goodwyn answers questions at WLTX Ask-A-Lawyer
Jeff Goodwyn answers questions at WLTX Ask-A-Lawyer

The 6 on-camera attorneys were Cynthia A. Coker, T. Jeff Goodwyn, Edna Primus, Jennifer W. Rubin, Tana Vanderbilt and Robin F. Wheeler.

Cindy Coker, SC Bar Public Services Director
Cindy Coker, SC Bar Public Services Director

The phones were ringing non-stop. WLTX graciously provided us with water and chocolate; both of which were appreciated. Darci Strickland and Andrea Mock interviewed us during the session and helped us maintain our energy with their enthusiasm. And at the end of the evening, JR Berry dropped by to thank us for our hard work.

Edna Primus and Tana Vanderbilt field questions
Edna Primus and Tana Vanderbilt field questions

Caller Origin:

  • 18 of my 30 calls originated from Richland County;
  • 1 from Fairfield;
  • 1 from Florence;
  • 1 from Greenwood;
  • 2 from Kershaw;
  • 3 from Lexington;
  • 3 from Orangeburg; and
  • 1 from Sumter.

Mind you, I had 30 calls total in a 2 1/2 hour span and I even took a moment off the phones for an interview.

Caller Issues:

  • 6 questions about Divorce/Alimony
  • 5 Child Support/Child Custody and Visitation/Adoption
  • 4 Consumer Law including Bankruptcy
  • 3 Wills and Estates
  • 2 Employment
  • 2 Medical Malpractice/Health Care
  • 1 Social Security
  • 1 Landlord/Tenant
  • 1 Homeowners Associations
  • 1 Immigration
  • 1 Traffic Laws
  • 1 question about Taxes; and
  • 2 non-legal questions.

Ask-A-Lawyer also included the “web-chat” piece. Three attorneys (Peter M. Balthazor, K. Cameron Currie, and Jennifer L. Locklier) fielded web questions during the same time.

All in all, it was a busy time, but I enjoyed every caller and hope that they felt that they had received a worthy service from us. I will DEFINITELY do this again.

Thanks to SC Bar staff Deborah Morris who coordinates the event, Joey Heape who insures that the web equipment functioned properly, and Elizabeth Martin who popped in for a few photos.

And special thanks to our host station, WLTX. You helped us make this a success!

-NOSY WHEELER

LATE PS – I wish I had asked the name of the camera operator at our station because he was an absolute delight. When he saw us running out of water, he brought the new bottle to us. Thank you Camera Operator!

POVERTY: SC

Is this our future?

Poverty + SC = 4Ever
Poverty + SC = 4Ever

Is this what we want for our future?

Recently I’ve been referred to a few poverty resources that I want to share.

  1. A powerful video (by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) sent to me by Shannon Scruggs of the SC Bar Foundation.
  2. Poverty in America has published its LIVING WAGE CALCULATOR, an interactive online tool.

When I pulled up South Carolina, 10 of the 22 occupational areas had typical hourly wages within the poverty range.

Almost half. Almost half of the people going to work every day in South Carolina are working for wages that keep them in poverty.

That’s scary! Especially when most of us consider that employment helps to break the poverty cycle. It’s daunting when you think that the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission was set up expressly to ensure that people living in poverty receive equal access within the civil court system. Essentially one of the unspoken beliefs is that full access to the same legal rights helps lift people out of poverty.

It’s certainly time for us to wage a war on poverty.

  • People living in poverty face barriers within the public education system.
  • People living in poverty face barriers within the public health care system.
  • People living in poverty face barriers within the civil and criminal justice systems.

If people going to work everyday remain in poverty, then how can we expect to break the cycle of injustice? Educational injustice. Health care injustice. Civil and criminal injustice.

And yes, I’m familiar with the saying that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, but if Madame Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton will forgive my paraphrase/alteration/juxtaposition of  it takes a village to raise a childit is much easier to eat the elephant if the whole village takes one bite.

In order for us to break the poverty cycle, it will take effort from each of us.

Please join.

-RFW