Pro Bono Program
1989 The concept of a pro bono program takes shape. The goals are set and the school receives a grant from the South Carolina Bar Foundation.
1991 Named "444th Daily Point of Light", May 1, 1991 by President George Bush. Only law school to receive this honor. Honored with the "University of South Carolina Outstanding Student Organization Award"
1992 First law school class with 3 years of pro bono experience graduates, over 50 % of student body actively involved. List of volunteer opportunities greatly expands. Named South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, Volunteer Group of the Year for involvement in an education project to help at-risk youth. "Guest Chef" project launched. Local attorneys, judges, and community leaders that support the efforts of the Pro Bono Program are invited to be the chef at a hot dog sale. Proceeds from the sale are used to support summer public interest internships. The "Pennies for Pro Bono" fundraising effort kicks off. Over $1000 raised to benefit SC Bar Pro Bono Litigation Fund.
1993 USC School of Law selected as site for ABA Pilot Project " Pro Se Modification of Child Support Orders Through the Court" ; VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) enrolls first volunteers to assist low-income persons with their tax forms.
1994 "Canned Immunity" the first major food drive to benefit the local food bank is launched- To date 25, 463 pounds of food have been donated. Celebration of 5 years of law students serving as volunteer Guardians ad Litem representing abused and neglected children in court. Law students volunteer with Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration Program- a community involvement program that works with first time offenders to prevent future offenses.
1996 USC names law student Sydney Meeks as the "Outstanding Volunteer of the Year" and Women in Law receives "Outstanding Student Organization Award", honoring their years of service on behalf of battered women. South Carolina Legal Services relocates to the Pro Bono Office and results in exciting opportunities for students to assist with cases and research.
1997 "Community Service Award" received from Harvest Hope Food Bank.
1998 Pro Bono Program Web Page debuts. The world of volunteering online (Virtual Volunteering) is explored. A team of students research and collate the nation's donated food laws for Chicago based, national food bank, Second Harvest's Web page. Indexing of the South Carolina Bar Ethics Advisory Opinions completed by students.
1999 McCants Elementary School students targeted for weekly assistance by over 30 law student volunteers. Celebrations begin for 10th anniversary of the program Gov. Jim Hodges proclaims Pro Bono Day, September 27, 1999 . The Honorable Judith Billings, Utah Court of Appeals speaks at Anniversay Luncheon in April, 2000. Judge Billings was the first Jurist-In-Residence at USC School of Law.
2000 McCants Elementary School closes; students and tutors move to Logan Elementary School. Harvest Hope Food Bank presents the Pro Bono Program with a special award for largest food drive in the school category.
2001 Canned Immunity Food Drive, expands to twice a year and becomes a "Best Class" Competition. Over 8,000 pounds of canned food collected in one semester.
September 11, 2001- In response to the student desires to help and to recover the following letter was sent to all students.
An Open Letter To the Law School Community
There are not enough words to express our emotions over the past few days as everyone reels from the effects of the recent tragedy in the United States. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the citizens in New York, Washington and Shanksville. At this time of sorrow we all feel the need to help. This is a normal part of the healing process. I am in touch with local volunteer organization close to the situation and if ANY need arises where I think law students can directly assist I will put out the call. This does not solve our immediate desire to help. I ask that you channel that desire to your local community. We may not be able to have a direct impact on the disaster recovery but we can all work to make the world a better place for everyone. Making a difference one person at a time can be our goal. No drop of blood donated to the Red Cross will ever go to waste. But have patience, call 1-800-GIVE -LIFE to schedule an appointment. Whether you choose to help though your faith or through the Pro Bono Program projects, you will find that there is healing in doing good work. As members of the legal profession we need to be leaders in the war against intolerance. Use your intelligence and skills to promote the rule of law. You are urged to listen to the facts and to weigh the rhetoric. Take the time to discuss the issues with your fellow students and faculty. I also ask that you have patience - patience with our leaders and with yourself. Take time to connect with your loved ones and reach out to those in need of comfort. Now is the time for words of kindness to friends, fellow classmates and to strangers. If I can be of any comfort or assistance to you at this very special time please do not hesitate to contact me or drop by the office. The members of the Pro Bono Board join me in this offer of assistance.
2002 Working with Phi Delta Phi, volunteers raise money and stock a full emergency clothing closet for Logan Elementary School.
2002- Fall The Pro Bono Program adds Computer Buddies to its list of projects. In addition, volunteers will be recruited to participate in the SAS project, Students Assisting Seniors. SAS is a research project under the direction of USC School of Law Professor Robin Wilson. Trained volunteers from different disciplines will educate and assist senior seniors in the process of securing Medicare and Medicaid benefits. SAS utilizes volunteer law, medical, public health, nursing, social work, and pharmacy graduate students.
2003- Project Ayuda: Law Students Helping the Hispanic Community is developed. With a goal of providing legal information to the growing Hispanic Community in SC, students work with the Director on accessing, researching and responding to requests for legal information. This portion of the project is conducted in spanish. In addition to the information service volunteers with Project Ayuda work with the Young Lawyers Division of the SC Bar to compile and update of spanish speaking attorneys in SC, collaborate with other community organizations to provide information and to identify resources and enhance the knowledge of law students on issues of immigration law.
2004- The Pro Bono Program is recognized for its extensive service to the community. In January the SC Commission on Higher Education presented the Program with the " Service Learning Commendation". Also in January the SC Bar Pro Bono Program presented the Law School the 2003 Pro Bono Service Award.
2005 At the conclusion of the Spring "Best Class" Food Drive, the Pro Bono Program reaches a goal of 100,000 pounds in 10 years. All canned food was donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank.
2005 At the 2005 ABA Equal Justice Conference in May, it is finally confirmed- the USC Pro Bono Program was the first voluntary pro bono program in a US law school!
2008-The Class of 2008 reaches a personal goal of donating 100,000 pounds of food to Harvest Hope Food Bank all by themselves! With a huge effort in the last semester the members of the Class reached this outstanding goal with a few thousands pounds to spare. They have set the bar high for succeeding classes. Congratulations to everyone who donated during their three years in Law School
Three new projects are added to the list of Pro Bono Program Volunteer Opportunities- The HELP Homeless Legal Clinic, the Free Medical Clinic and the SC Access to Justice Commission. These three new opportunities join a list of 20+ other projects that have the attention of USC School of Law student.
New Pro Bono Program Webpage unveiled! Extensive changes to the format of the homepage for the Pro Bono Program were unveiled. The goal was to make the entire site more user-friendly, to make it easy for Law Students to enroll through an online link and to introduce the new "Ethical and Professionalism Issues for USC School of Law Students Engaged in Pro Bono Work" memo.
The Pro Bono Board initiated a new publication- For the Good Of the Order: Profiles in Pro Bono. This newsletter featured interviews of outstanding USC alumni and their ongoing participation in the pro bono activities. Cliff Moore and Marti Bluestein were the first two profiles.
2009 The 1st Incoming Law Student Community Service Project was conducted in conjunction with the SBA, and the Office of Student Services. Almost 300 1L's, SBA members and Ambassadors, Peer Mentors and faculty members participated at 16 different locations. Members of the Pro Bono Board served as "reporters" for the blog. usclawcommunityservice.blogspot.com
2010 The SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is extablished. A collaborative project of the SC Arts Commission, the SC Bar Pro Bono Program, the USC School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Clinic and the Law School Pro Bono Program. scvolunteerlawyersforthearts.org
The Pro Bono Program enters into a 3 year grant with the Lt. Governor's Office on Aging to study and enhance access to legal services for SC's low income senior citizens.
20th Anniversary of the Pro Bono Program webpage launched!
2011 In April the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center hosted a 20th Anniversary Celebration for members of the legal community. Much fun was had by all and many memories captured for the next 20 years.
Carolina Clerks: Pro Bono Clerks for Pro Bono Lawyers was launched in the Summer of 2011 law.sc.edu/pro_bono/carolina_clerks.shtml.
In November, during Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week, 25 law students, their families and friends entered into an agreement to take the SNAP Challenge. The SNAP Challenge is an effort to bring awareness to the difficulties and challenges people face when they must live on the equivalent of $4 a day per person. SNAP or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program was formerly called food stamps. The participants blogged about their weeklong experience. The blog can be found at: snap.scschooloflaw.org/
Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands recognizes the Pro Bono Program and volunteers with Project Ayuda for their outstanding contribution to assisting the Hispanic community by translating the STSM website.
Pro Bono Program starts tweeting, once a week! @USCLawProBono
2012 The Pro Bono Program and the SBA formalize their arrangement to provide periodic community service activities. "Good Deed Fridays' started in the Fall and offered monthly opportunities for students and organizations to engage in an afternoon of service as such locations as Harvest Hope Food Bank, St. Lawrence Place and the Habitat ReStore.
In October the Law School participated in the White House's Champion of Change program. Live from the White House Attorney General Eric Holder and leaders in the field of public interest law addressed issues of importance to the profession.
To kick off the Fall Best Class Food Drive, the law school celebrated with "Hunger is not a (Crock) Pot". Homemade soup prepared by the leaders of over 20 student organizations were judged by Dean Rob Wilcox and US Attorney Bill Nettles. Prizes were coveted and awarded for most delicious, most likely to be enjoyed by children and most likely to be desired during exams. The $500 proceeds were donated to the Backpack Program at Harvest Hope Food Bank, helping provide easy to prepare food for children over the weekend.
The SC Probate Court Special Visitors Program is created. Using funds from a grant from the Lt. Governor's Office on Aging two students created a Coordinators, Volunteer and Training Manual for this Program. The first training will be held in the Fall. The need for trained volunteers to visit wards arose as a result the data analyzed from of the surveys student conducted at local senior centers.
Volunteers embark on an ambitious updating of the Choices: Legal Awareness Sessions for Juveniles for the SC Department of Juvenile Justice. Updating involved checking for current statutory language and adding activities to make it more relevant to today's youth
2013 In collaboration with the SC Access to Justice Commission a team of students took on the task of reaching out the rural areas of SC by providing presentations on timely topics. The students created the presentations, marketing material and resource lists and after practicing they provided the public with practical educational guidance on topics that included divorce, landlord-tenant and identity theft. The Rural Justice Project is funded by a grant State Justice Institute.
The SC Bar launched SCLawAnswers.org as a means by which volunteer attorneys could answer legal questions posted by low-income members of the public. Law students are available to assist with any research needed but additionally a team of students was recruited under a new project called the Virtual Research Volunteers. To help alleviate the backlog of questions, the VRV's receive a list of questions posted to the secure website, select the ones they want to address, draft a response and submit it to the Director of the Pro Bono Program who then approves or modifies and posts the response.
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