SC Appleseed to Host Series of Public Forums re: Foreclosure

Hot off the press!

SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center will host a series of three public forums around the state in response to the foreclosure crisis. Check the flyer below for more information.

~RFW

Part 1: Volunteer Katrina Hoch


Katrina Hoch is not your typical legal services volunteer. She isn’t a law student. She isn’t a lawyer. She isn’t a paralegal. Instead, in October 2009, she was awarded her Ph.D. in Communication and Media at UC San Diego. Yes, THAT San Diego, the one in California.

How long has she been working at the Greenville SCLS office?

At the time of the interview – about 1 week.

How did she end up at as a volunteer for legal services?

For that we need to delve into her dissertation entitled The Politics of Visibility: Transparency, Secrecy, and the United States Judiciary. Ok, we won’t delve too deeply; simply enough to know that she is interested in transparency in courts and the legal framework. From there it’s not difficult to imagine that transparency in the courts would lead to openness in the courts which leads to access to the courts with a natural end result being equal access to the courts – which leads us to legal services.

How did she make the jump from California to South Carolina?

Ah yes, that would be the spouse, a Clemson University professor who happens to be friends with the Greenville SCLS managing attorney, Kirby Mitchell.

What is she working on?

Some intakes. Some legal research.

What lessons has she learned from the experience?

Before doing some of the intakes, I don’t think I realized the difference between having money and not having money – in the legal field. It’s simply not the same for people without money. The people contacting SCLS have very complicated problems that are extremely difficult to address without an attorney. And their problems can multiply very quickly.

I have been very impressed with the speed in which the staff responds. Yesterday someone called SCLS about a hearing next Monday, and another called about a hearing next Wednesday. I submitted the information to the team and already this morning I learned that attorneys have been assigned.

It’s evident that lack of resources really hurts people. And of the calls we receive, most everyone sounds deserving of assistance.

Has she enjoyed her volunteer experience?

Even though it’s been a short while, it has already been a great experience. I would definitely encourage others to volunteer here.

And one of the most impressive things about her work at SCLS?

The attorneys and staff here have such broad knowledge of the issues; they are definitely working in a broad mix and not shoved into one specialty.

-RFW

Introducing a 4 part series: Pro Bono Volunteers at SCLS

A few weeks ago, I was honored to head to Greenville to announce the recipient of the Ellen Hines Smith South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) Attorney of the Year – Maureen White. While there I was fortunate to take a few minutes to sit down with 4 of their volunteers – Katrina Hoch, Katie Conyers, Alex Paterra, and Sarah Henry. We chatted about their work and involvement with SCLS and their impressions of their work.

Each of them offered similarities but from different perspectives. Stay tuned to learn more about these amazing individuals and their impact on legal services in South Carolina.

-RFW

Who is this man?

Meet Bradley Ridlehoover.

Why is he important?

Because as of this summer, he has been working as a deferred associate at South Carolina Legal Services in Greenville in their Low Income Taxpayer Clinics area.

So how did he end up there?

Well, he started out in the Piedmont area, with an interest in law. Enter tax law. He went on to get his LLM (Master of Laws) in tax and was set to start work at Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. About that time, he was deferred and held some adjunct teaching positions, but then met up with some Greenville SCLS staff attorneys and before long, he was working in the office there.

When I spoke with Brad, he mentioned that he has enjoyed his work at SCLS. He is especially pleased that he was given such a broad exposure to the legal issues that so many people face. He has had client interaction from the start and has really enjoyed working with his SCLS colleagues.

His biggest eye-opener?

The fact that so many of his clients don’t know how to advocate for themselves. Many of the people coming in with tax problems don’t understand that they need to respond to the demand letters. They don’t know the next step. They can’t do this on their own and they can’t afford to hire anyone. Many times they’re victims of predatory lending and have a lot of personal debt with huge interest rates. They are stuck until they reach out to us for help. They are good hard-working people who are stuck and often we can help them resolve the issue quickly.

His Takeaway?

If you are an attorney just starting out and even if you’re not interested in working for legal services on a permanent basis, this is still a great place to get pro bono experience or to volunteer.

  1. It is rewarding.
  2. You get good practice drafting.
  3. You have fabulous opportunities for trial experience.
  4. And the clients are wonderful.

Plus it’s a great place to give back to the community.

What changes would he make to his experience at SCLS?

More time. More time to expand to other legal issues. He focused on tax because of the need, but legal services is a great place to learn so many areas of the law. It’s a great place to learn to be a generalist.

As we spoke it was obvious he had tremendous respect for the attorneys he worked with – “they are experts in so many areas but also practice in such a broad range.” They have to be – so much of what they do covers so much of the law – tax law, family law and benefits.

If he could change SCLS, what would he change?

I’d raise awareness about SCLS. It’s a great community resource. And the staff are motivated, interested individuals who want to be a part of this community. They do great work.

And his final words?

I’m a better lawyer because of this experience.

And we appreciate that. Thanks Brad!

-RFW

Housing/Foreclosure: Greenville

If you live in Greenville County South Carolina and are facing foreclosure or housing discrimination, were you aware that the Human Relations Commission of Greenville County has devoted a webpage to local resources to assist you?

Take a look at this handy resource. They offer a toll-free Hotline at 1-866-495-3918, Homebuyer Education classes, information about foreclosures and more.

Thanks to Leanda King for pointing me toward this resource!

-RFW

Guest Blogger: Cynthia Cothran, LRE Director at the SC Bar

Help make mock trial rock!

CIMG5080

Volunteers Needed!

It is that time of year again!

The Law Related Education (LRE) Division is seeking volunteers for its growing mock trial programs, which teach middle and high school students about the legal system through trial role playing. Mock trial volunteers enjoy the thrill of competition while scoring and presiding over trials. LRE not only needs volunteers to score the competitions, but attorney coaches to help prepare the teams.

WANT TO SCORE A COMPETITION?

Competitions Dates and Locations are as follows:

October 31, 2009 Middle School Mock Trial Regional Competitions (Charleston (full), Columbia, Conway and Greenville)

November 21, 2009 Middle School Mock Trial State Competition (Lexington) (full)

February 27, 2010 High School Mock Trial Regional Competitions (Charleston, Columbia, Conway, and Greenville)

March 12-13, 2010 High School Mock Trial State Competition (Columbia)

WANT TO COACH?

If anyone is interested in serving as an attorney coach instead of a scoring judge, there are several high schools that need attorney coaches that are as follows:

Berkeley County: Cane Bay High School

Horry: Carolina Forest High School

Richland: Lower Richland High School, Ridgeview High School, Spring Valley High School

York: Nations Ford High School, Westminster Catawba Christian School

Pickens: D.W. Daniel High School

All mock trial volunteers earn pro bono credit for their hours dedicated to the mock trial program. To learn more or volunteer, contact Cynthia H. Cothran at ccothran@scbar.org or at (803) 252-5139.

SC Attorneys: Carol N. Ney Nat’l Mock Trial Tournament Needs YOU!

Furman University is hosting the Carol N. Ney National Mock Trial Tournament in Greenville on Friday-Saturday, March 27-28th.

48 teams from the East Coast will compete and of those, the top 12 teams at the Furman tournament will earn bids to the national championship final in Des Moines, Iowa.

In order to run a tournament this size, almost 350 judges are needed.

The tournament will be held on the Furman campus and in the downtown Greenville courthouses.

Judges may sign up for one or two trials: Friday, March 27th, 12:30-4:30; Friday, March 27th, 5:30-9:30 PM; Saturday, March 28th, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM; Saturday, March 28th, 1:30-5:30 PM.

On-line registration is available here

 More information about the tournament is available here or by contacting the tournament host, Dr. Glen Halva-Neubauer.

-RFW