Many South Carolina lawyers offer their services for free (pro bono) to clients who cannot afford to pay for help with civil legal matters. These matters include family, housing, bankruptcy or probate matters.
How do I qualify for pro bono assistance?
The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program is a private, nonprofit program whose mission is to encourage local attorneys to do free legal work for civil matters in their communities. For criminal matters, please contact your local public defender’s office. To qualify for the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, you must meet federally established poverty guidelines. To find out if you qualify, please call 1-800-395-3425. If you qualify, the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program will attempt to connect you to a volunteer attorney.
How long will it take the Pro Bono Program to find a lawyer?
This depends on the number of volunteer lawyers available in the county where the case will be heard and what the cases involves. It may take up to four weeks to find the right volunteer lawyer to take your case.
What if I am served with legal papers?
The Pro Bono Program is rarely able to accommodate emergency requests for a lawyer. However, if you are served with legal papers after the Pro Bono Program has received or completed your intake but before you have been referred to a lawyer, call the Pro Bono office immediately. If you are served with papers after a lawyer has taken your case, call the lawyer's office immediately.
How do I know when a lawyer has taken my case?
You will receive a letter from the Pro Bono office that gives you the lawyer's name and telephone number. You should call your lawyer during regular business hours as soon as you receive the letter.
How much will it cost?
The volunteer lawyer will not charge a fee. However, you may be responsible for any related costs, such as filing and service charges. The opposing lawyer may ask for lawyer's fees from you, but it will be up to the judge to decide if you should pay.
What if my income increases?
If your income increases after your first interview with Legal Services or the Pro Bono Program, contact the Pro Bono office. If your income increases after your case has been referred to a lawyer, contact the lawyer.
What should I take to the interview with my lawyer?
You should take any legal papers that have been served and any other documents related to your case. It is your responsibility to provide this information to your lawyer.
What if I decide to drop my case?
If you decide to drop your case, call your lawyer. Your lawyer will contact the Pro Bono office. If you simply fail to show up for an appointment or court hearing, your case will be closed by your lawyer immediately.
What if I cannot keep an appointment with my lawyer?
You must call and cancel any appointment you cannot keep as far in advance as possible. If you fail to call, your lawyer may close your case.
What if I move or change my phone number?
If your address or phone number changes, call the Pro Bono office with the new information. Be sure to let your lawyer know also.
What if I don't have a car?
You are responsible for arranging transportation to the attorney's office and to the court.