Want to Interpret in the South Carolina Courts?

Join us on Saturday, February 11, 2012!

Cost: $35 – includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and materials! Pay by check or Discover, Visa or MasterCard.

Program begins promptly at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m.

Space is limited and preference is given to South Carolina residents.

Registration MUST be post-marked no later than Friday, February 3, 2012. No refunds for cancellations received after Friday, January 27, 2012.

For more information, please email ccoker@scbar.org or call Robin Wheeler at (803) 576-3808.

At our recent SC Access to Justice Commission meeting, we had a guest speaker who presented on Language Access and the growing need for language access in the civil court system.

And, while many of us understand the laws that govern language access, especially in the legal system, the fact still remains that in order to provide qualified interpreters, these qualified interpreters must be available and accessible.

Most everyone I’ve spoken with has noted that we need more qualified interpreters. We simply do not have the numbers of qualified interpreters.

During our preliminary conversations, we learned that while there is a general interest to interpret, many in the interpretation community were unfamiliar with legal terminology and courtroom decorum. And, interpreters were hesitant to pay to take the South Carolina Court Interpreter exam without at least an introduction to the legal system in South Carolina.

As a result, Law School for Interpreters was created.

I’m pleased to introduce the Law School for Interpreters which will be held on Saturday, February 11, 2012. We have a great line-up of speakers including attorneys and at least one judge. The sponsors for the event have all been working together with the Commission as we try to increase the number of qualified courtroom and legal interpreters.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in this course, please complete and return the registration form – Registration for Law School for Interpreters Feb 11 2012.

I look forward to seeing you there!

~RFW

Disabilities Awareness Public Forum, Wed., Oct. 26, 2011

Tomorrow as part of Celebrate Pro Bono 2011, several attorneys will be speaking at a Disabilities Awareness Public Forum in Greenville, South Carolina.

The event is FREE and open to the public. We do have ASL Interpreters available for the event, but if you need additional accomodations, please contact Stephanie Gutzman at 864-235-0273 or by email at gutzman@pandasc.org.

Hope to see you there!

~RFW

It’s official – Poster and FAQs online – en español

Good News!  ¡Buenas noticias!

The South Carolina Courts’ Self-Help Page now offers FAQs (General Questions, Circuit Court and Family Court) and an explanation about what court staff can and cannot in Spanish!

And many thanks to student volunteers with the USC School of Law’s Pro Bono Program and the kind folks at HABLA!

-RFW

My First Animoto!

SC Access to Justice Commission.

Click the link to see the first SC Access to Justice Commission’s Animoto video.

-RFW

SC Bar Foundation Gala Invitation from Shannon Scruggs

Dear Bar Leader:

Please join us for a great evening of fellowship and entertainment at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 11, 2010 when our Bar Foundation hosts its 4th Annual Gala. The event will be located at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The event will be a great opportunity to celebrate and to learn more about the SC Bar‘s charitable arm.  Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal will introduce the South Carolina Bar’s Nifty Fifty – the class of 1959. The South Carolina Bar will honor the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year and the SC Access to Justice Commission will present the Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Lawyer of the Year Award. Other special invitees include the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the SC Court of Appeals.

Individual tickets are $75 each and include an open bar, dancing and a seated dinner (it isn’t your typical rubber chicken, either!). There also will be a silent auction with sports memorabilia (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, USC’s John Roche), spa certificates, music/film/TV mementos, beach stays, hotel weekends and more!

Gala 2010 is being held to help the Foundation in its efforts as the only statewide entity that funds the advancement of justice by improving access, education and accountability.

Please make plans to attend. For additional information you may RSVP via (803) 765-0517 or foundation@scbar.org.

Shannon Willis Scruggs, Executive Director

SC Bar Foundation

To view the invitation in pdf:   SCBarGalaInvite_2010

Friday Wrap: Pro Bono

Today is the final day to make a nomination for the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Award. And, if you’re one of my Twitter followers or Tweeps, then you’ve seen this touted for a while, with especial fervor this week.

And you may wonder, why the big deal? Good question.

Here’s why I think it’s a big deal:

  1. There are a LOT of attorneys out there (in and out of South Carolina) who are helping people for free every day, including weekends and holidays. Many of these attorneys receive no recognition for their work. And they deserve the recognition by the public and their peers.
  2. Often the general public vilifies attorneys and legal work. Many of us are called greedy and lawyer jokes are common. C’mon, we’ve all heard them. They’ve been around forever, even Shakespeare has a famous line about lawyers. But the truth is, while some – in any profession – go into law to make money, many more go into law to help people. And if they are working in the public sector – government or public interest, their salaries are not their main focus. And for many who enter the private sector, while their salaries are higher on average, they also contribute both money and time with pro bono efforts.
  3. And, last, but certainly not least – encouraging pro bono efforts within the legal community is one of the responsibilities (see Responsibility #6) detailed in the Administrative Order establishing the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. And the SC Bar Pro Bono Program Award Presentation at the annual SC Bar Foundation Gala offers a great opportunity for statewide recognition.

So, if you know an attorney, law firm or program that has provided good pro bono service within the past year, please complete and return the Nomination form. You may just make yourself and someone else feel better. And that’s a good thing, don’t ya think?

-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