A few years back Nora Harris was struggling to get free from an abusive husband.
"I really thought I would lose my life in the process," said Harris.
The broken nose she says he gave her was *nothing compared to the damage she says she suffered internally, thinking she was "helpless, that nobody cared and that I was going to be stuck in a situation that I didn't want to be in."
Harris and her kids escaped to a homeless shelter and was put in touch South Carolina Legal Services. They gave her free representation during the divorce process.
Tamika Cannon was her lawyer. She says Legal Services provides free council for pretty much everything but criminal cases.
"We handle family cases including adoptions, divorces if physical cruelty has been involved, custody cases, child support reduction cases, we handle bankruptcy's, consumer debt cases, wills, guardianships, conservatorships, so it's a very wide range of cases.
To qualify your annual income must be below 200% of the poverty line. That cap is $29,420 for a family of two and $44,700 for a family of four.
If you don't qualify for help from South Carolina Legal Services, you still have options. Check with the South Carolina bar association. They offer free clinics every spring and fall. For that and other options see the information below.
For Harris, it's a happy ending that she says would not have been possible without the free help she got form Legal Services.
"It gave me my self esteem back first of all, my safety, living comfortably, and I went back to school and now I'm studying to be a paralegal based on just going through their services."
To contact SC Legal Services call: 888-346-5592
The Bar's Public Service Division program highlights:
Volunteer lawyers are gathered for televised phone banks and Web chats in an effort to assist the public with its legal questions. During each event, phone banks are aired on evening news programs to encourage the public to call in with questions. Lawyers also respond to questions via the Internet. Visit the website at www.scbar.org/aal.
Lawyer Referral Service
The Lawyer Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer who is willing to consult and advise you at a discounted rate of $50 for the first 30-minute consultation. If additional legal service is needed, the fee is something for you and your lawyer to agree on. You may call the Lawyer Referral Service at (803) 799-7100 in Richland and Lexington counties or 1-800-868-2284 statewide between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To learn more click here.
Other helpful contacts
If you are indigent and unable to pay for a lawyer's service, you may want to contact LATIS at 1-888-346-5592 to see if you qualify for free or reduced-fee legal services. This program will screen you to see if you qualify. If you do not qualify, they may refer you back to the Lawyer Referral Service. To find out more about LATIS, you can visit www.sclegal.org.
Free Legal Clinics
A series of free legal clinics around the state each spring and fall. A listing of upcoming legal clinics is available on the Bar's Web site at www.scbar.org/clinics.
Civic groups, churches, schools and other organizations can arrange for volunteer attorneys to speak to their groups on various legal issues. The Speakers Bureau is a FREE service connecting attorneys who enjoy public speaking with organizations seeking orators for various functions. Engagements can vary from lectures at the local rotary club to an introduction of the legal system for your local middle school to question-and-answer sessions with senior citizens' groups. If you are interested in having a volunteer attorney speak to your group, contact Elizabeth Martin at (803) 799-6653, ext. 155 or email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> .