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One of the hallmarks of the legal profession is its demonstrated commitment to service to those who are unable to afford representation.
Rule 6.1 of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct states a lawyer should render public interest legal service and may discharge this responsibility by: (1) providing professional services at no fee or reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations; (2) participating in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession; and (3) providing financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.
These services are desperately needed in South Carolina, where nearly a quarter of the citizens live at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines and qualify for free civil legal aid. A vast majority of those households experience civil legal problems, including problems with health care, housing conditions, disability access, veteran's benefits, and domestic violence, for which they cannot afford the services of a lawyer. The state's hardworking legal services organizations are simply unable to meet the legal needs of these citizens without assistance from private attorneys. South Carolina attorneys often step in and volunteer their services by providing direct representation, holding clinics, and answering questions for those of low or modest means. They also volunteer their time to educate the citizens of the state in an effort to prevent many justice issues.
The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Board and the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program work to assess the legal needs of indigent citizens of the state and determine the best method to meet the needs of those citizens and help ensure a fair and efficient court system for all citizens.
The following Vision Statement and Mission Statement have been adopted by the Pro Bono Board:
To support Pro Bono services in each circuit so that every qualified individual and organization who needs legal assistance in South Carolina receives it.
The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program recruits, supports and recognizes volunteer attorneys throughout the state and provides appropriate legal assistance to low-income individuals and qualified non-profit organizations through training, technology, recognition, recruitment and mentoring.
Find helpful forms, links and checklists for use with your pro bono case (login required).
The Pro Bono Program recognizes the work of volunteers with Pro Bono Certificates and the annual Pro Bono Award.
The Pro Bono Board works to improve the delivery of legal representation to indigents and also seeks to define and track pro bono service among South Carolina attorneys.
The American Bar Association's annual Celebrate Pro Bono week is the last full week of October.