South Carolina Clerks of Court are often the first stop for someone preparing to go to court. Often a litigant can pick up forms in the Clerk’s office and may even ask directions to the courtroom. And occasionally someone may ask whether or not they should file a lawsuit. Did you know that this question may be considered legal advice? And did you know that by South Carolina law, only attorneys are allowed to give legal advice?
If you didn’t know this, you’re not alone.
That’s why the Clerk of Court workgroup of the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission worked with Court Administration to develop a list that explains what clerks can and cannot do. This information was made into a sign and recently the South Carolina Supreme Court approved this signage.
The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission’s Clerk of Court Work Group met on Friday, September 26, 2008, to discuss ways to implement access to the courts without crossing ethical boundaries. Dean Robert M. Wilcox of the USC School of Law provided ethical training for the clerks including a Q&A session.
Dean Wilcox noted that ethical guidelines have been put in place to protect the public from advice that causes them to rely on and change their legal position. He cited a few legal cases and also gave practical information to the clerks.
Afterward, Robin Wheeler and Stephanie Nye provided updates about signage to post in the courthouses and the Frequently Asked Questions survey.
During lunch, the clerks divided into two subgroups – Circuit Court and Family Court. In each of these subgroups, the clerks discussed next steps and initiatives.
The group will continue to meet and discuss access for all South Carolinians.