We want to hear from you! I also know that many lawyers do not take on pro bono work or engage in public service for the glory or the accolades. In fact it is often difficult to even find out what good work they do but just this one time I ask that you tell me your story! Why do you do pro bono work? What does it do for you as a lawyer? For your profession? What is the source of that ethos for service? It is important that your stories are preserved for it is said “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Please take a few minutes and send a message to me at: Robinspd@law.sc.edu or call me at 803-777-3405
And thank you in advance for sharing your story.
Class of 2001
SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
Class of 2008
Bruner, Powell, Wall and Mullins, LLC
Class of 2001
Attorney, Evans, Carter, Kunes & Bennett, P.A.
“If I had never done the Peace Corps, I probably would have never had any interest whatsoever in the Pro Bono Program at USC Law,” says Andrew Chandler. “But I was drawn to it when I first walked through the doors.”
“I’m very happy that I found the Pro Bono Program or, rather, that it found me.”
While Chandler was growing up in Savannah, Ga., his parents stressed to him and his four siblings the importance of helping others. His father and brother were Marines and his mother was a nurse, but Chandler saw a different way to answer the call to serve. After majoring in public administration and political science at Winthrop, he enlisted in the Peace Corps. A two-and-a-half-year stint working in the Dominican Republic teaching soil conservation and agriculture changed Chandler ‘s life. “I know that it seems like it has nothing to do with pro bono, but in a way, it has everything to do with it,” he says. Continue reading
Class of 2013
Staff Attorney, SC Supreme Court
Class of 1999
Law Office of Margaret S. Day, LLC
Molly Day participates in pro bono and public service work because she feels that it is the “duty and the privilege of the legal profession as a service based profession.” Her work with the SC Bar Children’s Committee,
Lifelong friendships were developed during this time and those friends continue to share Molly’s passion for pro bono work.
Chair of the SC Bar Pro Bono Committee, and representation of individual pro bono clients is evidence of this ongoing dedication to professional duty. Continue reading
Class of 1994
de Holczer Law PC
Class of 1997
Jabber and Isaac, PA
Class of 2009
Associate, Belser and Belser, PA
Class of 2004
Beaufort County Public Defender’s Office
As an assistant public defender, Helen Roper Dovell is responsible for helping represent the bulk of criminal defendants in Beaufort County, South Carolina. Dovell channels her passions for helping others and making sure justice is administered into every aspect of her work.
“Public defenders are definitely the heart of public interest work,” says Dovell, a 2004 alumna who has been an assistant public defender in Beaufort, South Carolina since 2008. In her position, she strives to make sure that the law is applied fairly in every case.
“People need to be treated as people, and if you don’t have someone advocating for you, it’s easy for you to become just a number,” says Dovell. “It makes me happy to know that I can help prevent that from happening.”
Class of 1992
SC Judicial Department
Class of 2011
Attorney, Ruth Law Firm, L.L.C.
Ruth Hindman didn’t plan on practicing family law; but thanks to Pam Robinson and the Pro Bono Program at the USC School of Law, she says, family law found her. “Through the Pro Bono Program, I saw how a group of people can affect a community when they work together,” she says. “It made me realize that law isn’t just about the bottom line – it’s about the people you get to help.” Continue reading
Class of 2000
Magistrate, Lexington County
Very few second year law students get to work a high profile case that has them flying out after class on Wednesday, spending the weekend interviewing claimants in a federal lawsuit, then returning home just in time for Monday classes.
“I really enjoyed the fact that I was doing something with the law as well as helping people,” he says.
But Judge Brian Jeffcoat did just that when he volunteered to help sign up farmers for a class action civil rights lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture through the University of South Carolina School of Law Pro Bono Program. Continue reading
Class of 2007
Attorney, Digna Ochoa Center for Immigration Legal Assistance
Olivia Jones calls the non-profit legal field the best of both worlds. “It’s probably one of the few legal careers where you can have a good work/life balance, and you’re helping people in your community,” she says. “It’s a win for you and a win for the place where you live.”
When Jones began her studies at the University of South Carolina School of Law, she was interested in finding a way to combine her bilingual skills with the practice of law. But without guidance from a relative or mentor in the law profession, she wasn’t sure how to do that. Advice that she simply look up bilingual attorneys in the phone book and call to ask if they needed any help was offered, but Jones says that wasn’t how she wanted to get started in the legal profession. Continue reading
Class of 2002
Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force
Most Americans remember exactly where they were when they first heard about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Scott Medlyn was just beginning his third year at the USC School of Law, where he witnessed the events unfold on television screens in the first floor lobby.
He credits those Pro Bono Program experiences and his time at USC Law with allowing him to volunteer during in his country’s time of need after 9/11.
“It had a profound impact on me,” Medlyn says. “I felt like I needed to do my part, to shoulder the burden and help carry the load.” And so, after graduating, he commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. He planned on fulfilling the initial four-year-commitment and didn’t expect to make the military his career, but more than a decade later, he’s proud to still be a part of the Air Force and what he calls a fabulous opportunity. “They keep giving me great assignments,” he says, including helping to establish a judicial system in western Afghanistan and representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the latter of which he did with the assistance of Pam Robinson and the Pro Bono Program at USC Law. Continue reading
Class of 2010
Fifth Circuit Public Defender
Class of 1995
U.S. Department of Justice
What do Girl Scouts and the Pro Bono program at the University of South Carolina law school have in common?
For starters, they both teach leadership skills, provide practical training, and have inspired people like Cherie Rogers, a 1995 alumna of USC Law, to continually strive to better their communities.
“Thanks to the Pro Bono Program, I was able to gain hands-on, practical experience to complement my classwork. This provided me with a very positive image of the legal profession
“I suppose pro bono service is in my blood. I still vividly remember reciting the Girl Scouts Promise to serve and help others,” said Rogers, alumna of the class of 1995, “and I’ll be forever grateful to the Pro Bono Program at USC for helping pave my path of 20+ years of federal government service. Continue reading
Class of 1996
Risk Management Director, SC Bar
“I knew I wasn’t going to be a contract lawyer. I knew that my focus was going to be more on public interest and policy work.” “My volunteer work while a student with the Pro Bono Program solidified that track,” said Jill Rothstein. Since graduating from law school Jill has pursued a public interest career that has included representing guardians ad litem with the Richland County CASA Program and as a prosecutor with Richland County Department of Social Services. She also had an opportunity to serve as the Public Services Director for the SC
“I have more blessings than I can count. So grateful for my happy children.”
Bar where she worked with lawyers to bring information to the public but nothing had a great impact that her work following Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading
Class of 1995
Member, Callison, Tighe & Robinson, L.L.C.
“When I interview candidates for law clerk or associate positions, I look for someone who has been involved in the Pro Bono Program because it shows me that they’re interested in practicing law for the right reasons,” says Nekki Shutt, a 1995 alumnus of the University of South Carolina School of Law and a current attorney for Callison, Tighe & Robinson, LLC.]
“Pro bono work really takes you back to the roots of what a lawyer is supposed to do, which is to give back to his or her community and help people.
Shutt was involved in the Pro Bono Program during the early years of its existence, and describes the program’s director, Pam Robinson, as a “lumninary.”
Class of 2012
Associate, J. Lewis Cromer and Associates, LLC
Class of 2012
Staff- Attorney-SC Legal Services- Charleston Office
Class of 2007
Associate, Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough, LLP
Class of 2010
SC Attorney General’s Office
Tutor, CASA volunteer, Pro Bono Board member, Law Review member and new mom! Those words describe Johanna Valenzuela in the time between her 2L and 3L year of Law “
This was a great opportunity to talk about emerging issues that had real consequences as we were trying to help a live client!”
School. Johanna has always been someone who could manage her time well, accomplish what she set out to do and still have time for friends and family. In fact when asked what was one of the lasting effects of her time with the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program, her reply was classic “Johanna”. “It is easy to connect with people who served on the board previously and after. It helps with time management. You really can get involved in more than you think. Having all these projects through the Pro Bono Office helps you to create a schedule and stick to it.” Continue reading
Class of 2003
Executive Director, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands
Class of 1996
Staff Attorney and Legal Advocate, Sistercare
“I truly am one of those people who believes that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, how successful you are, how many awards you get,” says Jane Waters, staff attorney and legal advocate for Sistercare a non-profit that provides services for battered women in the Midlands of South Carolina. “If you aren’t doing something that makes a difference, then why are you doing it?]
“I enjoyed the opportunity to be able to serve others, and I think doing that in the law school setting prepared me to be able to do it once I started practicing.”
Waters traces her desire to make a difference back to her time with the Pro Bono Program at the University of South Carolina School of Law. She served as secretary of the board, worked as a guardian ad litem, volunteered with DSS to close a backlog of foster care cases and helped Professor Elizabeth Patterson with research for South Carolina’s 1996 Child Protection Reform Act. She even won an outstanding service award for her work.