It soon became apparent that many of the in-person projects we had developed over the past 30 years would have to be put on hold a bit longer. There were many opportunities that could continue with adjustments but It was time to think about new ways to serve.
When Betsy Goodale, the SC Bar Pro Bono Program Director, set up a COVID-19 Legal Hotline it quickly became apparent that students could be a valuable part of the recovery and response mechanism. Carefully drafted step by step instructions were a start and before long the students were handling requests like a pro. Meeting the present needs was the initial task but when a future disaster hits, we now have a process in place that works!
Reaching out to alumni has also been an effective method of placing students seeking experience with attorneys who could use the help. It might be as simple as drafting instructions for pro se clients on how to attend a hearing remotely, creating a flyer to explain to Uber drives what records they need to maintain for tax purposes, or conducting research for complex foster parent cases. Across the state our alumni have been a terrific source of help willing to reach back and help our students become the best lawyers they can be. Modeling behavior that includes pro bono service is a key motivator for our alumni and has a life-long and valuable impact on our students.
Are we finished? No, if this summer is any indication more students than ever are going to want to be engaged in pro bono service and with remote limitations still in effect, we are going to be seeking opportunities. If you have accepted a pro bono case or have a project sitting on the back burner that seeks to improve access to justice, now is the time to reach out to your law school. Yes, we need your financial support, but we can also use your skills and knowledge. We can provide the doctrinal knowledge our students need to become a lawyer, but you can add great practical value to their education. Helping our students, helping you and helping our community.
For more information or to request assistance, you can reach Pamela Robinson by email or by phone at 803-777-3405.