Pro Bono Program
Virtual Research Volunteers
Goal: To provide support to the SC Bar Pro Bono Program's SCLawAnswers.org initiative
What is SCLawAnswers.org? It is an effort of the SC Bar Pro Bono Program to provide members of the public access to legal information relative to their personal issues. It is an online program with a self-screening tool for determining income eligibility. The process involves a member of the public logging on to a website, creating a user id and password, completing a questionnaire designed to determine income eligibility and compliance with several rules and finally drafting and posting a question. At this point the question is available to volunteer attorneys to be answered anonymously.
What is the problem? The number of questions being posted by the public is overwhelming the site. The volunteer attorneys cannot keep up with the volume. Since this is a new project it will take time to increase the number of available pro bono attorneys.
How do USC Law students fit into the solution of the problem? Lawyers are already aware that they can call on the Carolina Clerks: Pro Bono Clerks for Pro Bono Lawyers Program for questions they don't know the answer to or need research to verify the correct response. The problem isn't that lawyers don't know the answer; the problem is that they are not taking the time to write the answers! This may be because many of the questions are vague, redundant, or obviously too complex and need the advise of an attorney but the pro bono attorney does not want to take the time to look up the resources for referral and type a response. One note: no attorney-client privilege is established through this system as it is anonymous. This is where law students come to the rescue!
How will the VRV operate? Simple- each month the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program will download a selection of questions from the SCLawAnswers.org website and compile them into one document. VRV's who have signed up will have access to that list and can choose which questions they want to draft an answer to. A streamlined process for review and distribution has been developed that will also help create a system for referencing frequently asked questions.
Responsibilities of USC Law students must:
Responsibilities of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program are to:
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