Focus on Pro Bono: Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards is currently a 2L at the Charleston School of Law.  He is taking Evidence, Criminal Law, Constitutional “Con” Law, Professional Responsibility, and Equity. He is currently serving as the secretary of the Criminal Law Society and is a member of the ABA committee.

His Favorite Class?

Con Law is my favorite.

His current pro bono work?

Right now I am working with Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services on heirs’ property, wills, and mortgage foreclosures.  I am also helping a public defender, Marybeth Mullaney, do research in preparation for an armed robbery reform bill being introduced to the state legislature in January.

What first drew him to pro bono work?

I’ve always enjoyed helping people.  That’s the main reason I came to law school.

How did you first learn about these projects?

I learned about Pro Bono Legal Services through our school’s career services department.  The armed robbery bill I learned about when Marybeth came to speak to the Criminal Law Society.  I contacted her afterwards and told her I wanted to help in any way that I could.

What was his most rewarding pro bono experience?

The most rewarding thing for me was a wills clinic I organized in October.  Sometime before that I helped conduct surveys with senior citizens on behalf of the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging.  None of the senior citizens had wills, and they each cited the same reason — they couldn’t afford it.  So that prompted me to organize a wills clinic at the same senior center.  Pro Bono Legal Services sponsored it and it was really successful.  Securing property in South Carolina is an important issue; every piece of property secured is one step closer towards a more prosperous South Carolina.

Any surprises?

The utmost appreciation and cooperation from everyone involved.

What have you learned while doing this project?

The most helpful thing I’ve learned is how cooperative people are.

Future legal plans?

I would like to eventually open my own civil firm in Florence, SC.  In the meantime I may work in the public sector to save money before I venture into starting my own practice.

Future pro bono plans?

I will certainly volunteer my time as much as I can within my community.

Advice for other law students?

Pro bono work is an excellent way to meet great attorneys and expand your understanding of the law.  With pro bono you have the opportunity to get practice experience in almost any area of interest.  When you’re willing to work for free, the world is your oyster.  <smile>

-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.

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.

-RFW