Part 3: Alex Paterra

Alex Paterra

Alex Paterra isn’t a native South Carolinian, but that hasn’t stopped him from jumping right in to assist South Carolinians in need.

Alex graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law and started practicing law in 2005. He is a solo practitioner and recently grabbed an opportunity to help people in need while keeping his lights on via the Private Attorney Involvement (PAI) program with SCLS.

Originally Alex envisioned his legal career beginning at the public defender’s office, however, his path led him into private practice with two law firms, but with the downturn in the economy, he chose to start his own firm. His work at SCLS began by volunteering to take their employment cases. He had 5 years of Labor and Employment experience and knew he could help out. Once he had started volunteering, he noted that there was an opportunity for him to assist even more people working as a PAI attorney.

Since November 2009, he has taken on roughly 7 employment cases.

Has this work changed his vision of legal services?

Not really. I had previously volunteered at other legal service entities and consider pro bono a necessity for so many people who can’t even make ends meet.

What should practitioners know about your experience?

Major law firms should donate first year associates to their local legal services’ entity. It is of GREAT benefit to the firm. The associate gets a MUCH quicker immersion into law and learns some great basic skills such as:

  • Quick decision-making;
  • Learning how to distinguish successful cases via a smell-test;
  • Team-building and learning to bounce ideas off each other;

The associates would gain practical, courtroom experience in a more relaxed environment. The associates should be volunteers for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year. Any help is good, but one year of service translates into a great volunteer – for life.

-RFW

PAI: A Great Way to Keep the Lights On

PAI – Private Attorney Involvement

If you are unfamiliar with PAI aka Private Attorney Involvement, a program that incorporates private attorneys into the legal services system of representation on a local basis, then please keep reading.

The following announcement appeared earlier today in the SC Bar’s E-Blast:

Attorneys needed for paid cases
South Carolina Legal Services is required by federal funding to hire private attorneys to take on cases. The rate is $65 per hour. Most of the cases are physical cruelty, divorce and bankruptcy. This is a great opportunity for young attorneys from Richland, Lexington, Sumter, Lee and Kershaw counties to get experience. Contact Brett L. Lamb at (803) 744-4167 or brettlamb@sclegal.org for more information.

This is a wonderful opportunity for new attorneys to gain experience and pay the bills.  If you are a young attorney striking out on your own, or a more experienced attorney looking for an opportunity to slow down your practice while remaining involved, please consider PAI. AND it has the added benefit of assisting people who otherwise would not be able to hire legal representation.

Thanks SC Bar for bringing this important program to light!

-RFW