What is LAMP?
Military service often affects a service member’s ability to obtain legal counsel or representation for these matters. One of the biggest hindrances for these service members is the expense of private legal representation. After September 11, 2001, the ABA urged state bar organizations to take steps to provide reduced fee or free legal services to military personnel who were facing deployment/activation. The South Carolina Bar responded by creating Legal Assistance for Military Personnel (LAMP) in 2001 as an effort to meet this need by pairing qualifying military personnel with volunteer lawyers.
LAMP seeks to provide free or reduced fee legal services to active military personnel who are stationed in South Carolina or whose case is related to South Carolina in some way. Military service frequently places service members in unique and difficult legal situations. While active duty military personnel can obtain certain legal services for free from military lawyers, due to the limited resources of these departments many legal needs of service members are unmet. For example: a service member may need help getting out of a residential lease when he is called up for active duty; a service member may need to be present at a court hearing but is instead across the country or in another part of the world; a service member could need information about how a civil or criminal judgment against him could affect his military service, etc.
LAMP seeks to recruit volunteer attorneys who practice in several different areas of law including: Wills/Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Landlord/Tenant, Family, Employment, Probate, Guardianship/Adoption, Military, and Consumer. LAMP is an important and effective way for South Carolina’s legal community to serve those who willingly sacrifice so much for our country.
This program serves active military personnel and in some circumstances their immediate dependent family members. If you are not active duty military, please review our resources under "Get Legal Help." Active duty service members and their families (when the dependent family member’s interest aligns with that of the service member) may apply for LAMP by completing the LAMP Intake Form and mailing/faxing it to the South Carolina Bar (address and number provided on form). Active duty service members at pay grades E-3 and below will be presumed eligible for free legal services. Active duty service members at pay grades E-4 and above may be eligible for reduced fee legal service at the lawyer’s discretion. LAMP will only be offering services that are not available to service members free of charge from the military. Dependent family members of service members may apply for legal services, but only when the family member’s interests align with those of the service member. Once returned, your application will be reviewed and LAMP will begin the process of matching you with a volunteer attorney.
Get involved by filling out and returning the Volunteer Information Form. After your information has been received, LAMP will begin the process of matching you with service members based on your availability/practice area and the needs of service members. The following resources are available for volunteers:
Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
In 2003, President Bush signed into law the Service Members Civil Relief Act. The SCRA was a complete revision of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The SCRA contains provisions that provide special legal protections for active duty service members (and their dependents). These protections apply to many areas of law, including real property, family law, tax law, and criminal/civil procedure. LAMP volunteer attorneys need to be aware of the special protections and regulations provided by the SCRA in order to provide competent legal representation to their service member client.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The USERRA establishes many employment protections and rights for service members.
Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
Every military member is entitled to life insurance known as SGLI.
The SCRA and the USERRA are not the only legislation that affects the legal rights of service members. For example, a service member’s conviction for CDV can mean a loss of their clearance as a government employee. Below are several websites that provide more information on the particular legal needs/rights of military personnel.