The Palmetto LEADER is the Law School’s fully operational, mobile law offices that will take legal advocacy, education and resources to the rural, underserved places in SC. Website and blog, with photos of the bus being built, under construction and coming soon. Read more about it here:
Driven to Serve
A new access-to-justice program rolls into rural communities this spring.In Spring 2020, a new form of justice will begin rolling across South Carolina. Literally.
That’s when the School of Law is expected to unveil a self-contained mobile law office that will provide rural communities with access to legal services and information.
Called the Palmetto Leader (an acronym for “Legal Advocacy Education Resources”), the custom-built bus will include two private offices, a waiting area, and the necessary technology to allow for on-site delivery of services such as drafting wills, reviewing legal documents, and providing legal counsel to those who are otherwise unable to afford assistance.
It’s the brainchild of Pamela Robinson, director of the Pro Bono Program, who saw an overwhelming demand for legal aid at numerous “know your rights” presentations she and students would give at public libraries around the state. However, she says those sessions weren’t ideal for meeting the communities’ needs. When she struck upon a possible solution—a mobile office—she jotted it down on a sticky note. But with no budget, that note languished under her keyboard for years.
Then in 2018, the School of Law received a donation from the Konduros Fisherman Fund, through alumnus James Konduros ‘54. According to Konduros, this gift was to be “dedicated to providing further dimension and depth to the experiences” available to law students.
“Our goal working with Mr. Konduros was to find a way to put students in a position to help in rural areas where access to legal services can be a significant problem,” said law school dean Rob Wilcox. When Robinson made her proposal, “it brought together a lot of the ideas we had discussed.”
The more the two talked, the more Wilcox liked the idea of students and professors traveling to small communities and partnering with local attorneys, churches, and organizations to offer both legal services and education to parts of the state that might otherwise not have ready or affordable access to lawyers.
“We want for this to be a cooperative venture with the South Carolina Bar and with local community leaders; we’re asking how we can help,” says Wilcox.
Robinson stresses that this is not just a Pro Bono project. “The bus can be used in so many ways, from expanding the reach of our clinical programs—especially for veterans—to offering legal aid in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” she says. “It tells people we’re out there ready to help, and it also opens up opportunities for students to gain valuable hands-on experience and skills development.”
As the only school-operated mobile law office in the country, the bus also sets South Carolina Law apart. “I think it’s going to attract students who are interested in public service and helping the community,” said Wilcox.