Social Justice

Yesterday I had the distinct honor and pleasure to present South Carolina Access to Justice to Professor Susan Kuo’s Social Justice class at USC School of Law. I was pleased to share video from the Commission’s public hearings as well as field questions from the students.

If you’re interested in viewing my presentation, click here.

-RFW

Self-Represented Litigants Hit the Mainstream Media

SRLs Hit MSNBC News

MSNBC Headline:

THE HOME YOU SAVE COULD BE YOUR OWN: In foreclosure crisis, more Americans representing themselves in court

For quite a while now, this blog has been addressing the ever-increasing numbers of Self-Represented Litigants aka SRLs in the courts, even BEFORE the current economic climate. Now with record numbers of people losing jobs and homes and unable to afford legal representation, the numbers of SRLs have increased to the point where mainstream media is reporting it.

The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission continues to work on this issue within South Carolina and encourages YOU to contact us if you have an area of law that needs specific attention including producing user-friendly forms or training opportunities.

If at all possible, find an attorney to represent you.

Do not represent yourself unless it’s absolutely necessary.

 This is not to say that the Commission encourages people to go into Court unattended. If, at all possible, you can find an attorney to represent you, by all means do so.

We will continue to keep you up-to-date with innovations for SRLs in South Carolina, as well as national trends and developments as we learn of them.

-RFW

PS – This just in: article on law books for self-represented litigants – http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2009/02_01-19/BUS

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