SC Bar Ask-A-Lawyer ($40,000) The Bar has long held the belief that informed citizens are better able to function in a society governed by the rule of law. In keeping with that belief, the SC Bar Ask-A-Lawyer educational efforts are geared at the adult population and compliment the Bar’s efforts to educate students through its Law Related Education Division. Ask-A-Lawyer works with local television stations to arrange phone banks and web chats where people can have their legal questions answered by on-site volunteer lawyers. Legal Lessons: A Series for the Public sessions are offered in conjunction with technical colleges during the fall and spring semesters. The program also partners with libraries, senior centers and other community venues to host free educational clinics across the state. Close to 1,200 individuals were reached through clinics in 2011. This year, Ask-A-Lawyer is looking to assist even more South Carolinians by hosting at least 30 educational clinics.
SC Center for Fathers and Families ($65,000) The SC Center for Fathers and Families gives training and support to men who want to become better fathers through six fatherhood programs in 11 locations across the state. This organization helps men like “JW” set and complete goals such as finding a livable wage job. Struggling and unemployed, JW joined the Richland-Midlands Fatherhood Coalition site. Through the program, he found a job as an apartment maintenance technician and improved his relationship with the custodial parent and his children. JW has since taken his children on a real family vacation. This might be something that many would take for granted, but not JW. It was a life changing experience and just one of many goals that he made for himself while participating in the program. This year, the Center is determined to serve 240 low income fathers and help them continue to work and support their families and ensure child support payments.
Upstate Mediation Center ($27,500) Mediation provides a neutral third party who first listens and comes to understand situations like the relationship between “Mrs. J.” and her son, “Frank.” Mrs. J., elderly and disabled, had been the primary caregiver for Frank’s 10-year-old child, Joshua. Frank, a father with a past drug use arrest, had changed his life; he’d completed college, found a job and passed a drug test. Frank wanted permission to have Joshua stay overnight. Because of his rocky past, Mrs. J. was fearful that her son would, again, fail to do the right thing for his child. Through a volunteer mediator, Mrs. J. and Frank were able to reach an agreement for visitation and parental rights. Now, because they were so pleased with the process, they seek mediation whenever other issues arise. For their Family, Probate, Common Pleas and Magistrate Court mediation programs, UMC estimates that 90 volunteers will serve 1,500 persons in 650 during the FY 13 grant period.
LAW RELATED EDUCATION SC Bar Law Related Education Division ($216,000) The SC Bar LRE Division connects attorneys and our state’s teachers and students through unique educational experiences. Programs like Foundations of Democracy, Street Law and Mock Trial give students, teachers and others an interesting look into American history, lawmaking and justice.
One Mock Trial coach commented on watching a diverse group of kids come together and bond. “I’ve watched their self-confidence and reasoning abilities increase at an incredible rate!” she exclaimed. “Many of the parents have told me of the positive impact mock trial has had on their children.” LRE will conduct regional and state Mock Trial competitions for middle and high school students throughout the year. It is anticipated that 1,650 students, 230 teachers and 435 attorneys will participate in Mock Trial this year – just one of many of the LRE Division’s offerings.
SC YMCA Youth in Government ($15,000) The SC YMCA Youth in Government program develops leadership skills, government and legal knowledge of middle and high school students through hands-on learning experiences like the Youth in Model Legislature and Court program. With IOLTA funding, the program gives students from needy families the opportunity to participate in an activity where they are safe, surrounded by positive adult-role models and in a dynamic learning environment with youth from all economic backgrounds. Last year, more than 300 youth attending public and private schools were on some level of financial aid; 50 of whom were attending on IOLTA scholarships. Youth in Government will continue to serve the students attending Title One and rural, underserved schools with a goal of recruiting another 50 Title One middle school students to attend on scholarship.
University of South Carolina School of Law Pro Bono Program ($15,000) With IOLTA support, the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program offers students an invaluable experience in a public interest law firm through the SC Bar Foundation Public Interest Fellows project. The year-long effort also enhances the ability of South Carolina legal services organizations. In reflecting on her experience, one Fellow noted that her assignments allowed her to develop practical skills and become familiar with the process of initiating a case in South Carolina courts. She also commented upon the value of client interaction. “The client interactions ranged from observing a custody hearing to visiting a client’s home to executing a will. The most touching experiences I have had while working at South Carolina Legal Services involved the clients. The majority of the clients have expressed great appreciation for the services they receive. Moreover, the services provided and the issues faced by the clients have a great impact on their lives and often relate to very sensitive issues such as employment, housing and family.”