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

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MILESTONE: Charleston School of Law Pro Bono

Celebrating Pro Bono South Carolina Style

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From the October 27, 2009 Press Release:

In the five years since the Charleston School of Law started, students have donated more than 100,000 hours of free legal service to people across South Carolina. The public service milestone is the equivalent of 50 people working full-time for a year.

To read more.

-RFW

Introducing 3L Tiffany D. Gibson, Pro Bono Law Clerk

GUEST POST by Tiffany D. Gibson

Tiffany.D.Gibson

I was raised in a low socioeconomic background.   Both of my parents are on Social Security Disability.  My mother has been on SSD since I was in the 5th grade.  My father has been on SSD since I was in the 12th grade.   Our family has struggled even more since both of my parents are on disability.   Getting through paying bills from month to month is a blessing for the household.  Moreover, my parents have only a high school education, and the rural Pee Dee region of South Carolina is what they know.   I have seen my parents and members of the family have legal issues but not have access or the financial means to afford an attorney.   One of my uncles has had a long battle with trying to acquire Social Security Disability, but he has had to fight the system on his own and with no outside legal help.   I have seen my father in an extended involvement with probate issues of his deceased father’s estate, but he has not had an consistent legal help  or someone to just guide him on the  ins and outs of probate law with regards to his inheritance.   From  a few of my family experiences, I realize firsthand how crucial pro bono is to providing access  to justice for those who are unable to or who just do not know how to go about exercising their rights to justice.

As a law student, it is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of assignments, papers, job searches, jobs, organizations, and social life.  Involvement in pro bono is the priceless opportunity that gives you that necessary outlet.  It opens your eyes and helps you to realize that it is not about you and your personal goals.  It is about my community and what I can do to service my community as a present law student and in future practice of law.  Involvement with Pro Bono helps you to become more well-rounded and improves your ability to work with and interact with all degrees of life from different socioeconomic, race, and ethnic backgrounds.

A good percentage of the population of my law school comes from privileged or comfortable middle-class backgrounds.   A lot of these students come to law school very much oblivious to the extent of the critical need for pro bono service within our community.  Involvement in Pro Bono is needed to make them understand just how much the  community needs their service.

I have talked to a few friends at Charleston Law, and they informed me that a certain amount of pro bono hours are required for every law student.   At University of South Carolina, we do not require pro bono hours.   I believe that a pro bono requirement would be a great investment for the law school and the community that we service.  This will get the students out into the community who would not get involved on their own otherwise.   The requirement would also plant seeds into the law students –seeds that would hopefully grow and continued to be nourished when they are out in practice.

Oyster Roast to Support Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services

Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, Inc.

OYSTER ROAST

The Charleston County Bar Association Student Division cordially invites you to attend our 1st Annual Fund Raiser Event, supporting Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services.

O’MALLEYS GRILL

549 King Street

Saturday, October 24th

5 -7 P.M.

Oysters provided by O’Malleys Grille

Come And Support

Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services while enjoying all the oysters you can eat and the best legal company in the Lowcountry!

TICKETS

Charleston County Bar Members & Student Division Members $10

Non-Members & Guests $15

*Tickets to be sold on the Charleston School of Law campus in the Barrister from 12:00 – 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm the week of October 12 – 16, 2009*

Please contact the following for ticket purchases:

-RFW

Thanks to Virginia Howell for sharing with me!

Upcoming SC Events

Here are some noteworthy events coming up in May 2009. Feel free to add them to your calendar.

 

Columbia, SC:

Friday, May 1 – P&A’s Annual Gala: Celebrating Abilities: An Evening of Jazz and Art

To benefit Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A)

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the 17th floor of the Meridian Building.

Admission: $50 per person, sponsorships available

 

Friday, May 8 – University of South Carolina School of Law GRADUATION

 

Saturday, May 9 – South Carolina Bar Young Lawyer Division’s 3rd Annual Justice Jam

To benefit Sistercare

7:00 p.m. at Sudworks in Five Points

Admission: $5 per person

 

Tuesday, May 12 – Women After Five 16th Annual Reception and Silent Auction
To benefit Sistercare
5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Columbia Conference Center
Admission: $40 per person donation requested

 

Beaufort, SC:

Friday, May 22 – CODA 2009 Carolina Spring Fling

To benefit CODA and Lowcountry survivors of domestic violence

6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Hargray Building and Harvey Plaza

Admission: $50 per person or $40 per person for groups of 10 or more

 

Charleston, SC:

Saturday, May 16 – Charleston School of Law GRADUATION

 

-RFW

Three Amigos . . .

Late last Thursday I had the honor and pleasure to moderate a panel about Access to Justice at the Charleston School of Law as part of their Professionalism Series. Of course anytime that access to justice is recognized as important in the legal field, I’m always thrilled, but this offered me a chance to listen to others.

Many people at the Charleston School of Law worked hard to make our presentation a success, especially Abby Saunders, Graham Ervin, The Honorable Robert S. Carr and Sean, our media guru. And many thanks to the students who listened intently and came up afterwards to ask questions.

Fortunately I was familiar with those I was moderating, all of whom are SC Access to Justice Commissioners – Jennie L. Stephens, Executive Director of the Center for Heirs Property Preservation; The Honorable Deadra L. Jefferson, Resident Circuit Judge for the Ninth Judicial Circuit; and Stuart M. Andrews, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

allow-me-to-introduce

Ms. Stephens presented information about her work including a video clip from the Center’s informational video. If you are not already familiar with the Center, please check out their website. They have lots of valuable information and define the term “Heirs’ property.”

Heirs’ property is the name given to land that is owned by a group of family members who are the descendants of the original purchaser. The deed to the land is registered in the name of a deceased family member. Usually, the property has passed to each new generation through the State’s intestate laws. With each new generation, it is likely that family members may die without leaving wills stating who should inherit their share of the land.

Judge Jefferson offered perspective from the bench. Her words were inspirational and thought-provoking. I really appreciated the reference to Charles Hamilton Houston‘s quote that a lawyer’s either a social engineer or he’s a parasite on society.” Additionally, Judge Jefferson reminded us that attorneys are often the first face of justice and that laws are not enacted for the benefit of a few.

Mr. Andrews completed the presentation by reminding the students and the speakers why it is necessary to have an access to justice initiative. He noted that according to an ABA study, over 80% of the civil legal needs of low-income individuals are not met. He also presented a snapshot of Pro Bono by South Carolina Attorneys in 2006 (below).

sc-bar-pro-bono-program-2006

Every day I am grateful to work with so many dedicated and driven individuals; individuals such as the three commissioners outlined here. And I wanted to take a moment to thank them as well as the unspoken heroes at courts, and legal and social non-profits around the state.

Thank you for working to improve the system.

You are appreciated.

And your work is important.

-RFW

SC ATJ New Year’s Wishes or Resolutions?

COUNTDOWN TO 2009

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As the New Year’s wishes and resolutions are starting to pour in, I’ve had a few moments to ponder Access to Justice resolutions for 2009. Before I lose count of the many goals for 2009, I thought I’d share a few.

12. South Carolina Access to Justice will develop a working relationship with legal paraprofessionals throughout the state.

11. Technology advances such as instant messaging, podcasts, YouTube videos, and email allow greater communication to and for people in need of low-cost legal services, especially when transportation imposes a barrier.

10. The Commission and partner organizations reach solutions to the need for interpreters for individuals who are Deaf and with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

9.  South Carolina law students, both USC School of Law and Charleston School of Law students, become engaged in access to justice and collaborate with the Commission for creative solutions.

8. South Carolina attorneys recognize the opportunity that unbundled or limited scope legal services can provide to South Carolinians with low income or of modest means, especially during this financial climate while sustaining the attorney’s practice at the same time.

7. SC Access to Justice establishes a library workgroup to assist self-represented litigants (SRLs) with access to approved, free legal forms (http://www.sccourts.org/forms/indexSelfHelp.cfm) and to establish a long-lasting partnership with libraries.

6. All South Carolinians who are unable to afford an attorney can reach one access point for all South Carolina legal service organizations.

5. Every County Courthouse will house or have access to a nearby self-help center for self-represented litigants.

4. Every county self-help center will be staffed for a minimum of 5 hours per week by pro bono attorneys.

3. Every South Carolina licensed attorney completes at least 50 hours of pro bono service as per ABA Model Rule 6.1 VOLUNTARY PRO BONO SERVICE.

2. The Second Pilot Lawyer Mentor Program incorporates the aspirational Pro Bono expectation and that it becomes a “shall” instead of a “should.”

1. That ALL South Carolinians have equal access to the law and its remedies without regard to their economic status.

Happy New Year!

-RFW