20th Anniversary Celebration


20th Anniversary Celebration Committee


20 Things You Might Not Know


20 Things You Can Do


Where are they now?


History of the Pro Bono Program


For the Good of the Order


Pro Bono Program

Where are they now?


Carmen Thomas

What firm/organization are you working with now?
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

What kind of pro bono or volunteer work have you been involved in?
I am a member of the Richland County Bar Association Public Service Committee, and we coordinate pro bono projects for the Richland County Bar. Our primary effort is the Homeless Experience Legal Protection Clinic, or HELP Clinic, which provides free legal services to homeless people in the midlands at a once-monthly clinic held at Catholic Charities, near the Richland County Public Library. I participate in NMRS's Wills for Heroes program by volunteering to draft wills for police officers and military personnel. I participate in other pro bono activities on a regular basis.

What are the main reasons why you would recommend that law students become involved in pro bono work?
It is your duty, as someone with knowledge that can help others, to share that knowledge.

How would you encourage current law students to get involved with the Pro Bono program?
To talk to Pam. Or have students who are already involved invite one friend every time they participate in an activity.

Has pro bono work contributed to your sense of career satisfaction?
I enjoy helping people who are grateful for what a lawyer can do for them.

Did your experiences in the Pro Bono program at USC prepare you or benefit you in your career?
Yes.

In your career, have you seen an overlap between your volunteer work and your sense of your own place in the community and the legal profession?
Yes.

How do pro bono efforts fit in to the work of the South Carolina Bar?
I participate in SC Bar Young Lawyers Division pro bono activities when I am able, but my primary involvement is through the Richland County Bar Public Service Committee.

What kind of perceptions, positive or negative, do you think that the bar as a whole has about attorneys who are actively involved in pro bono work?
I don't think this is something I can answer for the Bar as a whole; some think negatively of it and that it is a waste of time, but others think it is admirable. Others don't even stop to think about it.

What is most memorable/best experience you had during your law school career through the Pro Bono program?
I wish I could remember!

What does the 20th Anniversary of the Pro Bono program mean to you?
USC is very lucky to have such a strong volunteer program. The students who are involved in it really want to be there. Pam is such a priceless asset to the school and community.