University of South Carolina School of Law
Pro Bono Program
To provide opportunities for skills enhancement and career development,
To involve law students in the volunteer programs of the community; and
To foster the ethic of professional commitment to those who are unrepresented.
Those were the goals of the Pro Bono Program in 1989 and 24 years later they are still the goals. This vibrant, comprehensive and ever evolving program is the first voluntary pro bono program in the US. The challenge has always been to find sufficient meaningful placements and organizations in a fairly rural state. Creative collaborations, the utilization of technology and long distance volunteering have helped match law students with pro bono attorneys and organizations needing assistance.
Law student volunteers are engaged in a variety of projects including juvenile arbitration, guardian ad litem, research for numerous legal service organizations, teaching legal awareness classes to at-risk youth, income tax preparation for low-income clients and similar projects. The list of projects constantly changes as new opportunities are developed. The Pro Bono Program is also the coordinating partner for the SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
The success of the Program lies in closely matching the expectations of the law students with the opportunities to serve. Partnerships with local, state and national legal service organizations have been key to the success. At the present time one significant partnership involves legal information presentations in the rural SC in conjunction with the SC Access to Justice Commission.
Annually the Pro Bono Board recognizes outstanding volunteers based on their demonstrated commitment to the goals of the Program. One key to the success of the Program is the student Board. Selected annually by their peers they are charged with recruiting and recognizing their fellow volunteers and as result the Program has received numerous local, state and national awards.
The Pro Bono Program at the USC School of Law will continue to engage every law student interested in making a difference just as it has for the past 24 years.
Pamela D. Robinson
Director, Pro Bono Program
Columbia, SC 29208