Thanks President Obama! Now we can have a Happy New Year!

Here’s the official press release:

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 29, 2010

Statement by the Press Secretary, 12/29/2010

On Wednesday, December 29, 2010, the President signed into law:

H.R. 6398, which provides for permanent Federal deposit insurance coverage for Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, the interest earned on which is used by States to support legal aid for low-income individuals.

Why does this mean?

This amendment will provide Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTAs) with the same temporary, unlimited insurance coverage afforded to noninterest-bearing transaction accounts under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – H.R. 6398 extends unlimited FDIC insurance to IOLTA accounts through December 31, 2012.

For more details, http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/changes2.html.

Happy New Year!

-RFW


¿Está dispuesto a llevar la bola?

I'll carry the ball

(Traducción por Google Translate)

Esta mañana asistí a la Condado de Richland CASA El mariscal de campo Desayuno en el Hotel Clarion en Columbia, Carolina del Sur donde un festín con un desayuno buffet sur suntuosa y se reunió con varios voluntarios interesante y entusiasta. (Debes estar entusiasmados para presentarse en un no-obligatoria 7:30 de la mañana de reuniones, ¿verdad?)

Me senté con Paige Greene, Director Ejecutivo de RCCASA, por unos minutos y aprendido lo siguiente:

* RCCASA anfitriones desayunos trimestrales mariscal de campo de reclutamiento de voluntarios y la retención. Aunque el evento está orientado principalmente hacia los machos, hay algunas mujeres que demuestran así.
* Si cada evento reúne en 10 nuevos voluntarios, que es de 40 nuevos voluntarios al año.
* RCCASA ya ha alcanzado su objetivo para 2010 con un total de 70 nuevos “reclutas”.

Desde 1 de enero 2010, han servido 934 niños a través de 973 audiencias judiciales a través de su programa. La cantidad promedio de tiempo que sus casos están abiertos (asignación hasta el cierre) es de 9 meses. Y desde 1 de enero, han cerrado 408 casos.

Si desea obtener más información sobre RCCASA o desea ser voluntario para hablar en nombre de un niño, llame al (803) 576-1735 o por correo electrónico casa@rcgov.us o echa un vistazo a su página web en http://www.rccasa.org.

Más fotos del evento de esta mañana:

Another Steps Up
Breakfast is served
Footballs
Footballs everywhere - and each football has the name of a GAL and the names of the children he has helped!
Got Game?
Paige speaks
I'll carry the ball
Speaking about the different initiatives
Quarterbacks!
Table . . .
Thanks for helping!
The group listens
Tossing the Ball

-RFW

Another Good Thing Happened in 2009

The office is quiet today, the last day of 2009. In fact, most people are off. But I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some of those pending to-dos. And this post is one of those on my to-do list.

A few weeks back, on December 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued an order amending Rule 412.  Rule 412, SCACR, governs the IOLTA program. The amendments were requested by the SC Bar Foundation earlier this year. The Supreme Court then received written comments from interested entities, including from the SC Access to Justice Commission.

Why is this so exciting?

Well, because IOLTA affects access to justice in a large way. Remember our previous post re: IOLTA?

Specifically this part:

IOLTA is a way to support access to justice to people living in poverty without taxing the public or charging attorneys or their clients. IOLTA is pooled to provide civil legal aid to the poor and support improvements to the justice system.

Well, the big news is that the amendments include interest rate comparability. This becomes effective June 15, 2010.

What is interest rate comparability?

GENERALLY: Interest Rate Comparability for IOLTA accounts indicates that the financial institution that pays those accounts the highest interest rate generally available at that institution to other customers when IOLTA accounts meet the same minimum balance or other account qualifications, if any.

The hope is that these higher interest rates will allow the SC Bar Foundation to distribute more money to their grantees, entities working to bring about equal justice in the civil legal system.

And that makes one more good thing that happened in 2009!

Happy New Year!

-RFW

Wanted: Mo’ Money

mo-money1

This sentiment isn’t unique to the Legal Services however it is time to take a moment to see the effect of the economy on legal service provision in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Bar Foundation released its Winter 2009 Brief and the following information is taken from there.  To view the brief online, click here.

 In July 2007: Monthly IOLTA revenues at all time high; currently they are 80% lower than peak. Last year, 96% of Foundation support came from IOLTA.

In the current grant cycle (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009), originally the SC Bar Foundation awarded $5.4 million to legal service providers. Mid-year cuts resulted in $4.0 million in awards, a reduction of $1.4 million. Due to the unprecedented loss sustained by grantees, the SC Bar Foundation decided to utilize $1.5 million in reserve funds to prevent further reductions to current grantees.

At this time the future prediction for total IOLTA revenues is less than $2.0 million. The effect of this continuing drop in revenues – grantees are and will continue to reduce work forces, some may have to close.

What can you do?

Please consider donating to the South Carolina Bar Foundation which is a 501(c)3 Public Charity. The SC Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the South Carolina Bar.

-RFW

In the News

Unfortunately what’s happening here in South Carolina is happening all around the nation.

From Seattle PI –

Economic woes threaten legal aid nationwide

In Ohio, revenue from IOLTA is expected to drop 50 percent this year to $11 million from $22 million in 2007. Projections for 2009 look even grimmer with incoming revenue dropping to $4 million.

In Washington state, revenue for grants is expected to drop from $9 million in 2008 to $6 million next year.

Texas originally projected $28 million for 2007, but interest rate cuts dropped the figure to $20 million.

To read the story, visit http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_wa_meltdown_legal_aid.html

-RFW

If you would like to help continue legal services to South Carolinians in need, please donate to the South Carolina Bar Foundation. For information, visit http://www.scbarfoundation.org.

Law Related Education – Does it matter?

j0341950

 Tomorrow I will be a JUDGE.

A Mock Trial Judge.

Not the PRESIDING mock trial judge, but a judge nonetheless.

No fancy black robe BUT I do have the fascinating joy and responsibility of judging mock trial for MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS!

You may be thinking to yourself, big whoop. Now YOU have to “work” on a Saturday. And besides, it’s not real life.

Well, newsflash – it does offer the opportunity to CHANGE someone’s life.

Wait. WHAT?!?!?

That’s right. Mock trial can change someone’s life. I’m not saying it will, but it is within the realm of possibility.

Participating in mock trial or other law related education allows students to gain a deeper understanding of how the legal system works. The South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education (LRE) division offers many differents programs in addition to mock trial,including Foundations of Democracy, Community Works, Law Day, We the People, and Foundations of Democracy to name a few. Here are some of the comments that LRE has received from teachers, students and parents about the impact of LRE:

From an elementary school – “[the] impact is far reaching and has included reading, writing, public speaking and social studies.”

From a high school student – “I never knew, until We the People, how the Constitution plays an intricate role in my life. Now I understand the limits of our government . . . We the People has made me a better presenter, speaker and a more educated American.”

From a middle school teacher – “Students from Project Citizen demonstrate leadership skills in dealing with school and community concerns. It is amazing to watch these students present their research to large groups of adults with confidence and pride.”

From a parent – “Participating in [We the People] was a remarkable experience for [my daughter] and for the other members of the team.  . . . My daughter has always had a dream of being a physician, but she came home from the national competition with a changed mind and heart. Because of this experience she had found her passion – and that passion is the study of the Constitution and of law.”

I find these remarks absolutely convincing. Yes, participation in law related education is a great thing. And, as one who has participated in the past and is LOOKING FORWARD to tomorrow’s mock trial rounds, it means a lot to me. I haven’t even told you about how it makes me feel. And trust me, if it didn’t make me feel good, it would be awfully hard to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning in order to be downtown no later than 8:45 a.m.

Mock trial makes me feel good because I see passion in these students. Tomorrow middle school students will stand in front of strangers, their parents, their coaches, their opponents and their opponents’ families. They will be nervous. They will present their cases. They will look at the judges. They will remember to ask for the judge’s permission before starting. They will question witnesses. They will make closing arguments. They may even stumble over their words.

But these 11-14 years will be there. On a Saturday. No later than 8:45 a.m. In their suits. Ready to take part in a demonstration of our justice system.

THAT takes passion.

What have you concluded? Does Law Related Education matter?

What do I think? I think it definitely matters. It allows students to study the law, study the system, and learn how to present their argument without resorting to fisticuffs. There’s no violence involved. Sure a courtroom can get heated. But it’s respect of and for the system that allows it to succeed.

It’s what allows us to ponder access to justice for all.

(And to dream of being a judge, even if only for a day, a Saturday.)

-RFW

If you would like more information about the South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education, please visit http://www.scbar.org/public_services/law_related_education/.

If you are interested in supporting the South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education program OR the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission, please visit http://www.scbarfoundation.org/.

Both the South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education program and the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission are funded by IOLTA grants from the South Carolina Bar Foundation.

barfoundationlogo