The Name’s Bono, Pro Bono

bono

It seems only appropriate to use a movie theme as we start to close out the year. After all, in Hollywood, this is the time for new releases as well as a time to reflect on movies from the past year. The same is true in the Access to Justice (ATJ) Community.

There are 4 main components to ATJ:

  1. EDUCATION. Education of the Bench, Bar, and General Public about ATJ as well as what’s currently available for people living within the federal poverty guidelines or those living just above the guidelines, but still unable to afford legal representation.
  2. STAFFED PROGRAMS. This category encompasses LEGAL SERVICES, in South Carolina SCLS, as well as other IOLTA grantees such as Crisis Ministries (homeless), Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation (heirs’ property), CODA (domestic abuse), SisterCare (domestic abuse), SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center (poverty groups and policy), and Low Country Legal Aid to name a few. The Commission would like to expand this collaboration to include entities such as Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A)Catholic Charities,  Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services and others who are providing much needed legal services to people who would otherwise remain disenfranchised. The goal is to collaborate and coordinate in order to serve more while maintaining high quality legal services.
  3. PRO BONO. This category expands to the entire Bar membership, the South Carolina Bar’s Pro Bono Program and law firm pro bono programs, as well as paraprofessional organizations such as the South Carolina Court Reporters Association (SCCRA) and paralegal associations. And Law Students – YOU play a large role as well. Law librarians also play a large role. We are looking to expand existing services and develop new services.
  4. SELF-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS (SRLs). This category encompasses all of the previous components in order to provide quality resources to SRLs as well as develop new resources including forms, clear guidelines, instructional packets, clinics, etc.

None of these components can exist in a vacuum. They must co-exist and coordinate in order for access to justice to become a reality.

Today’s focus is PRO BONO; Pro Bono in South Carolina and Pro Bono elsewhere.

SOUTH CAROLINA. There have been previous posts about the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program, namely that nominations for Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year are due – NEXT WEEK.

It saddens me that as of this post today there have been NO NOMINATIONS RECEIVED!

Now, I know there are South Carolina attorneys who have volunteered their services in the past year for pro bono. So why aren’t they are clambering for recognitition? Isn’t there at least ONE person who will see this post and nominate someone?

If  you are an attorney who has NOT yet participated in the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program, let’s address why not, shall we?

  • LACK of TIME. Did you know that the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program receives requests of all kinds and staff will take into consideration the amount of time you’re willing to spend?
  • LACK of INSURANCE. Did you know that the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program provides malpractice insurance to ALL of its participants? Even if you are currently unemployed, you will be covered.
  • LACK of EXPERIENCE. NOT TO WORRY! The SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program has MENTORS! Just request one when you sign up. This also allows you the opportunity to NETWORK and grow in another practice area. AND when you sign up, you are eligible for FREE TRAINING! That’s right – FREE!
  • LACK of KNOWLEDGE about the PROGRAM. What do you want to know? If it’s not covered on the website, then feel free to call Angela McKeirnan at 803-799-6653 x. 169 or 877-797-2227 x. 169 for more information. She’ll answer your questions.
  • My job/firm doesn’t allow me to represent individuals. Ok, there are other tasks you can do such as develop manuals, conduct training/clinics in the evening or weekends, ASK-A-LAWYER, be a MENTOR, etc. Just ask.
  • LACK of MOTIVATION. Did you know that Pro Bono attorneys actually feel BETTER after assisting others? Additionally with all the community good will you’re developing, it may benefit your rainmaking efforts without having to go into overdrive. Try it, you just might like it.

And now for Pro Bono news elsewhere:

NY: Found on The Home Equity Theft Reporter – HEADLINE: NYC Pro Bono Effort Training Lawyers In Fight Against Foreclosures. Full story at http://www.brooklyneagle.com/categories/category.php?category_id=4&id=25032.

NY: Attorney Adrienne Flipse Hausch of Garden City has been recognized for her outstanding pro bono legal commitment. Full story at http://www.gcnews.com/news/2008/1205/Community/034.html

FL: Found on http://www.suncoast.com (WWSB ABC Channel 7) – “Study: Fla. lawyers lax on free legal service.” Report found at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/documents/2008_Pro_Bono_Report.pdf.

CA: Santa Clara Bar offers Pro Bono Boot Camp tomorrow – found at http://www.probono.net/calendar/event.221637-Pro_Bono_Boot_Camp.

Western Australia: Pro bono work standard practice found at http://www.wabusinessnews.com.au/login.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wabusinessnews.com.au%2Fstory%2F1%2F69039%2FPro-bono-work-standard-practice.

-RFW

SCATJ’s 8 Reasons to Give Thanks in ’08

8. Public Hearings are Complete.

And the response was really good. South Carolina Judges, Attorneys and members of the public spoke about barriers to civil justice that they had witnessed or encountered.

7. SCETV’s The Big Picture and staff.

On December 11, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. The Big Picture will feature speakers from the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission’s public hearings. The topic will be self-represented litigants. The next morning, Friday, December 12, 2008, the radio program will continue discussion of this topic.

6. Support of National Access to Justice community.

Shout-outs to Bob Echols, Richard Zorza, Deborah L. Rhode, Jim Sokolove, Judy Meadows, Kate Bladow and all the many others who have contributed this past year to show me that access to justice is larger than South Carolina. There are many pieces within access to justice, all of which are important. The list is too numerous to mention here and I hope you all know who you are.

5. Support of the South Carolina Bar.

The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission works out of the South Carolina Bar building and without the assistance of the many Bar employees, the Commission would not have been able to accomplish as much as it has. Additionally, the support of all the Bar members has been overwhelming. Attorneys who are already working hard within the legal services community are familiar with access to justice and working toward this goal every day. Additionally without the care and support of the private bar, access to justice would remain an unrealized concept.

4. Support from the South Carolina Bar Foundation.

The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission is currently fully funded by IOLTA funds from the South Carolina Bar Foundation. Thanks for making everything possible.

3. Active Participation of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The final hearing was the ultimate in Supreme Court participation. All of the five justices actively joined in the somewhat lively discussion. They prepared meticulous questions and settled only for thorough answers. And their questions often indicated their interest in identifying solutions to the broad problems facing disenfranchised South Carolinians.

2. Wonderful South Carolina Access to Justice Commission Members.

There are 27 members of the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. Each one of these members has contributed to the success of the past year.

1. Supportive Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal and Steering Committee.

Special thanks to the support of the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission Chair, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, and Vice Chair, Stuart Andrews. Additionally, many thanks to Stephanie A. Nye, counsel to the Chief Justice, and George Cauthen, ex-officio. Without each of them individually and collectively, the Commission would not exist. Many thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

-RFW