Posted in: Lawyers None, Pro Bono

By nature, the American Bar Association (ABA) Free Legal Answers service seeks to lighten the burden of legal concerns in our communities.  In 2020, attorneys across South Carolina volunteered to help respond to the nationwide total of 47,937 civil legal questions — the most submissions since the program’s launch in 2016.

Now, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has recognized five distinguished entities across the Palmetto State as ABA Free Legal Answers 2020 Pro Bono Leaders for their extraordinary pro bono service.

“It is important that the Pro Bono Program provide a variety of methods for indigent South Carolinians to obtain pro bono legal assistance and for South Carolina Bar members to provide that assistance,” said Betsy Goodale, SC Bar Pro Bono Program Director.  “South Carolina Free Legal Answers is a great option for persons who may not have transportation or who cannot leave work on a weekday to get to an attorney’s office.”

This year’s recipients include:

  •  Sarah Cox of Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, PA in Columbia who answered 326 questions;
  • Tara E. Nauful of BEAL, LLC in Columbia who answered 391 questions;
  • Thomas M. Neal of the Law Office of Thomas M. Neal, III in Columbia who answered 62 questions;
  • Pamela D. Robinson of the University of South Carolina School of Law who answered 458 questions; and
  • Robinson Gray Step & Lafitte, LLC in Columbia who answered 86 questions collectively.

Free Legal Answers is a virtual clinic offering free legal advice to users throughout the country.  Each state has its own website where users may present basic legal questions, and volunteer lawyers provide their advice without the expectation of long-term representation.  The process is quick, easy and promotes access to legal information on non-criminal matters for those who may not have resources to hire a lawyer.  In South Carolina, there are 189 volunteer attorneys registered on Free Legal Answers to date. 

The ABA Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service annually honors individual attorneys, law firms, corporate law departments and other organizations that have demonstrated exceptional pro bono commitment through Free Legal Answers services.  In 2020, individual attorney recipients each answered 50 or more legal questions and firm/organization recipients collectively responded to 75 or more questions throughout 2020.

“Free Legal Answers is a great option for attorneys who want to do pro bono work but may not be at a place where they can take on a pro bono case,” Goodale said.  “Free Legal Answers offers the flexibility to provide pro bono legal assistance at a time and place that is convenient for the attorney and does not involve long-term representation.  In fact, it typically takes only a few minutes to answer a question, and attorney volunteers remain anonymous.  You won’t find a pro bono opportunity easier than this!”

To volunteer with Free Legal Answers, visit the SC Free Legal Answers site.  If you have questions about the program, contact Betsy Goodale at (803) 576-3808.