Focus on Pro Bono: Elliott Tait

Elliott Tait is currently a 2L, taking Wills, Trusts and Estates, Constitutional Law II, Problems in Professional Responsibility, Transnational Law, and Poverty Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is also a member of the Pro Bono Board and the Moot Court Bar.

When asked about his favorite class, Eliott replied “I really enjoy Poverty Law, taught by Professor Patterson.  It’s a class that analyzes the major policies relating to the poor, and it has certainly opened my eyes to the good things that government has been able to facilitate as well as the many things they could improve upon.”

While at the law school, he has checked in from time to time with Pamela DeFanti Robinson, the school’s Pro Bono Program Director. Through this program, he has been able to volunteer in a number of ways, with a memorable volunteer experience teaching a few CHOICES classes at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).  The curriculum is meant to give the kids in DJJ practical and accessible knowledge of the law.  In particular, Elliott references the day he taught a lesson on law enforcement.  At the beginning of the class the kids were very cynical and even hostile toward anything surrounding the idea of police officers.  By the end of the class, however, a few of the kids were able to really put themselves in the shoes of police officers and begin to understand the reasons behind their conduct.  The simple acknowledgment that “maybe cops aren’t as bad as I think” was a huge victory.

Currently, he is providing Pro Bono assistance by working with the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission’s Self-Represented Litigant Committee under the supervision of Stephanie Nye, Counsel to the Chief Justice. This Committee is working to implement the state’s first self-help centers, which will provide resources to self-represented litigants.  Specifically Elliott is helping to draft and edit self-help centers’ guidelines. Additionally he is also drafting a resource list which contains relevant contact information and links to resources that for self-represented litigants.

When asked whether this particular Pro Bono experience has given him any surprises, he noted “I have been surprised at the level of opposition to self-help centers in some counties.  I understand some feelings of caution about the idea, but outright opposition is surprising.”

He continued “I have learned about the real value in providing services to self-represented litigants.  It’s a shame that South Carolina is many years behind other states in providing such services.”

Elliott also noted that his pro bono experience working with the SC Access to Justice Commission “has simply reaffirmed that the practice of law is a great way to serve others, as there is great need.”

As to his future?

“At this stage I see myself going into some form of public service.”

And what would he tell other law students about his experience?

“Pro Bono work has always been interesting, unique, challenging, and rewarding.  It has really enriched my law school experience, and I plan to make it a significant part of my professional career.”

-RFW

Photos from the SRL film shoot

Last week I noted that we were in the midst of filming some training videos. Below are some photos from the shoot. Stay tuned for more photos . . .

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warren-and-jeremy-reviewing-the-shot

 

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-RFW

SRL Videos

Today I was fortunate to take part in instructional videos for judges when working with SRLs in the courtroom. The scripts were based on several different scenarios including Family Court and Circuit Court cases based on information the SC Access to Justice Commission has learned in previous conferences held by the SRL Network. Many thanks to Richard Zorza who served as not only the inspiration for these videos but also our technical advisor. The South Carolina Bar provided the videographers who ensured that the lighting and takes were correct. And many thanks to USC School of Law 3L Amelia Waring and Stephanie Nye, Counsel to the Chief Justice, who not only wrote the scripts but also directed the shoot. Many thanks also to the old Lexington County courthouse for allowing us to film there today.

I’m looking forward to the final products and am grateful to have supportive Judges, attorneys and individuals willing to make this a quality product.

-RFW

Our Top Blog Stats in 2008

Drum Roll Please . . .

 

 

South Carolina Access to Justice Blog’s Top Posts in 2008:

 

  1. 391 views          About. Most blog readers are interested in learning more about an organization or the author, hence the most views. 
  2. 319 views          SCATJ brings Rick Springfield into TSA holding cell at Boston Logan. Star power sells. Thank goodness for serendipity and Rick Springfield and the Boston Logan TSA.
  3. 254 views          VOTE HERE – on Access to Justice. Elections matter in a presidential election year, especially when the presidential outcome will be historical no matter which candidate is elected – special thanks to Barack Obama & Joe Biden and John McCain & Sarah Palin.
  4. 230 views          Photos from the South Carolina Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission Public Hearing on November 5, 2008. People like photos. What’s that again – a picture is worth a 1,000 what? Oh yeah. Makes sense.
  5. 200 views           Shameless Plug 2.0. A little honesty never hurt anyone, right? And if there’s humor in the title, even better, right? Oh yeah, don’t forget the photos – see #4.
  6. 188 views            Resources. There is always a need for information and a RESOURCES page is chock full of info. Plus there may be a few readers checking to see if they’re on the list. Hey, I’m all about accuracy.
  7. 174 views            Photos. (see #4)
  8. 161 views             Contact Us. This one seems extremely logical. Who do I need to reach to complain? To exclaim? To congratulate? And for all of you who have contacted Stephanie Nye or me via phone or email, thanks.

And thank you for reading the blog. I was somewhat dubious when someone suggested a blog in order to help create interest in the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission and its upcoming website (thanks Jay Wingard of 18th Street Design who has wonderful PATIENCE while waiting for me to complete the web pages).

 

And if you ever have a topic you think will be of interest, please forward to me at rwheeler@scbar.org.

 

I look forward to bringing you more news in 2009 about access to justice in South Carolina and around the nation and world.

 

-RFW

SC takes part in East Coast Symposium

Symposium (sĭm-pō’zē-əm) – n. (1) A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations. (definition provided by www.answers.com)

South Carolina is pleased to send Stephanie Nye and Robin Wheeler to participate in the Roadmap to Justice Project Fall 2008 East Coast Working Symposium at Suffolk University Law School. They will be working with these distinguished members of the Bench and Bar to explore innovations and methods to expand and enhance access to members of society with the greatest need.

Stay tuned for updates.

-RFW