7th Annual Incoming Law Student Community Service Project

1 Dean +17 community organizations +250 volunteers x 7 Years =A Law School that makes a difference!

On Friday, August 21, 2015 at noon the Lobby of the Law School will be filled with members of the Class of 2018, peer mentors, faculty and staff members and PIZZA!  Lots of pizza!  Everyone is excited and comparing notes on their community service assignment location.  At 1:00 Dean Rob Wilcox blows the whistle and everyone heads out across the Midlands to make a difference in 17 locations during the 7th Annual Incoming Law Student Community Service Project.

During the afternoon the teams will paint apartments, sort food and clothes, landscape, move furniture, reshelf books and a variety of other tasks. Law students volunteer throughout the year with a number of these organizations to help address legal issues, but for this one afternoon they will not be relying on their professional skills. Instead they will be making a difference with a totally different set of skills- strong backs and a willingness to get dirty!

A reporter who is a member of the Pro Bono Board, who will be taking photos, interviewing volunteers and gathering impressions from the event, will accompany each team. All of this information will be captured here for a real time Blog.


Dean Wilcox knew he was going to an outside location so he prepared for the hot weather by wearing shorts to work! Armed with a whistle he kicked off the event from the Lobby and before long over 200 1L’s students, peer mentors, faculty and staff members were spreading out to 14 locations in the Midlands. As Dean Wilcox noted,” Every year my favorite aspect of the Service Project is getting to know some of the 1Ls and it’s a great opportunity to do so. Plus we manage to do some good for these organizations. This day introduces new law students to the concept that service is an integral part of our profession, and it can be fun not just work. The idea of a little hard work is great stress relief for faculty and students at the end of the first week. Plus it really helps demonstrate that faculty and students are part of a profession together.”

On August 22, 2014 the weather could not have been hotter! With a heat index of over 100 there was much discussion about who would be inside or outside. At the Office of Disciplinary Counsel the men took the job at the hot warehouse while the ladies worked in the much cooler office. For many it was their first introduction to southern hospitalit at its finest! Tasks varied from unloading a truck of insulation, sorting books, collating brochures, filing, and more filing, organizing library shelves, moving boxes of case files and packing food. It wasn’t long before photos were coming in to the Pro Bono Program office and being loaded on to the Service Project Blog. Smiles were a common sight!

It has been said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” By that measure, the 6th Annual Incoming Student Service Project was a huge success!

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Thanks to every single person, student, faculty, peer mentor or staff member and host,  who braved the heat and participated in the 6th Annual Incoming Law Student Community Service Project!  By the efforts of many and in just a couple of hours the USC School of Law made a difference in the Midlands!  When the semester gets hectic and burdensome the hope is that you will remember the good times you had, the friends you made and the people that you helped on August 22, 2014.

Plans for other one day community service events will soon be announced (Good Deed Fridays) but for the latest information on ALL things USC Law Pro Bono makes sure to sign up on TWEN, Pro Bono Opportunities and follow us on Twitter @USCLawProBono

Thanks from Richland County CASA

James Washington at Richland County CASA sends everyone a great big “THANKS”

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Liz Pope, 1L

  1. On volunteering at Richland County CASA
    1. I am new to Columbia and I learned about the mere existence of this organization and what it is. It seems that they are whole heartedly advocates for the children. I was struck by their passion for children. As a psychology major and having worked at a psychology facility, I have seen abused and neglected children before. I think that now I will be able to meld my past experiences with my legal education and advocate for children.
    2. I believe that the 1L Service Day Project helps familiarize new law students with what organizations in Columbia. I also believe that this service day allowed me to really put things into perspective. Here I am, worrying about exams already and being prepared for class and then I step into this office. My eyes are caught by a brochure with beautiful faces on them, who have gone through more than I could possibly imagine, and still have the ability to go on…and immediately I begin to check myself.

Sam Friedman, 1L

  1. On volunteering at Richland County CASA
    1. This service project taught me that CASA advocates for children who wouldn’t have the opportunity to afford proper representation. They are in essence the voice for the children. Being that I used to be a camp counselor I believe that I could take that past experience and volunteer my time helping with children more.
    2. In essence, this service day project forces new law students to get out and get involved. It offers up a chance to reflect and realize some things about yourself and do some things that you probably wouldn’t try beforehand.

Stephanie Wharen, Mentor

  1. Community Service to me means doing what I can and giving back to potential clients and the community.

Before law school I was extremely involved in volunteering and community service projects. I have provided my help and assistance with organizations for the military and even was a part of THON a Pennsylvania State (which is one of the largest student philanthropic organizations in the nation). In addition, I have received an award for my efforts and involvement with community service and volunteer projects

The SC Legal Services team worked hard!

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Interview with Jennifer Rainville, Attorney at S.C. Legal Services

  • Q: How do law students help your organization?

o   A: Law clerks are instrumental in helping us with tasks such as legal research and filing court documents and are really essential to all that we are able to do for our clients and the community.

  • Q: Can you tell us a little about what you do at S.C. Legal Services?

o   A: South Carolina Legal Services provides low-income individuals of the surrounding counties with civil representation on matters such as housing and evictions, Family Law, Consumer Law, Employment Law, and a wide range and depth of other topics. Someone once said to me when they first visited our offices that it’s so amazing that each attorney is doing something so different from the next, and that really is true because as the needs of the community come to our door, we want to be able to handle them and we are lucky to have a diverse staff who have experience in a variety of areas of the law.

  • Q: How can interested law students get more involved with S.C. Legal Services after this project?

o   A: They can contact us about volunteering during the summer if they have an afternoon or two a week to come in and help us out with different tasks like legal research or just coming in and volunteering to help out with tasks like the ones you did today. Every little bit truly does help to keep the SC Legal Services going.

  • Q: What does SC Legal Services look forward to the most every year when we come?

o   A: Other than getting our cars cleaned that we have to drive in from county to county to help our clients, I like meeting all of the new law students and hope to meet someone who makes a connection with us and wants to come back and possibly help us out as a volunteer or maybe even a law clerk in the future. Interview with Benjamin Calhoun, 1L Assigned Project: Washing the SC Legal Services vehicles. Q: What does community service mean to you as a new law student? o   A: Helping others in any way that I can and giving back to the community that I want to be a part of.

  • Q: How does the 1L Pro Bono program help to foster ties with the community?

o   A: It gets us acclimated with area and helps us to make potential connections with organizations that we can potentially help out with in the future.

  • Q: Did you know anything about SC Legal Services before today?

o   A: No, I did not.

  • Q: Do you know more about the organization now?

o   A: I do. I know what kind of clients they represent, the work environment, how the attorneys came to work for SC Legal Services, and why they enjoy working here.

  • Q: Have you ever considered a career in Public Interest Law?

o   A: Not really. I’m kind of geared toward practicing in Environmental Law but not particularly doing Public Interest work. Interview with Heather Owen, 1L    Assigned Project: Washing the SC Legal Services vehicles.

  • Q: Are you upset that you couldn’t wear flip flops while washing cars today?

o   A: Yes. Interview with Allen Greer, 1L Assigned Project: Washing the SC Legal Services vehicles.

  • Q: Are you upset that you couldn’t wear flip flops while washing cars today?

o   A: I would be pleased if I could wear flip flops. Interview with Clay Burkhalter, 1L Assigned Project: Cleaning out the interior of the SC Leal Services vehicles.

  • Q: What does doing community service as a 1L mean to you?

o   A: Giving back to Columbia.

  • Q: Are you originally from Columbia?

o   A: No. I’m from Augusta.

  • Q: Have you done any service projects in Augusta?

o   A: Yes, I’ve worked with the local food bank and the Care Pregnancy Center.

  • Q: Have you learned anything new about your fellow 1Ls since doing this project?

o   A: Yes. I learned that we’re very good at figuring out vacuum cleaners.

  • Q: Did it explode?

o   A: No.

  • Q: Can we say it exploded for dramatic effect?

o   A: Yea, sure.

  • Q: Are you glad you didn’t wear flip flops?

o   A: I am. My toes feel safe. Very safe.   Interview with Andrea Miller, 2L Peer Mentor

  • Q: What did you do last year as a 1L student?

o   A: Last year I was over at the courthouse doing some filing.

  • Q: Did you think that you were going to be outside today?

o   A: I DID NOT. I thought that I was going to be inside so it’s a nice treat on a hundred-degree day.

  • Q: Are you still having fun though?

o   A: I am having fun since we’re in the shade. Q: Are you having fun hanging with the 1Ls? o   A: YES! LOVE my 1Ls!

  • Q: Have you learned anything new about your 1Ls since starting this project today?

o   A: I did. I actually learned a lot about them today and they’re pretty entertaining so I’m glad I got to work with these guys.

  • Q: Have you ever thought about a career in Public Interest Law?

o   A: I did not, but after talking to some people about what they have to say about their jobs and what they do here, it’s something that I am thinking about now.

Harvest Hope in Cayce Checks in!

THE Model Service Leaders!!!!!!!

Twenty-one law students and one legal research instructor rolled-up their sleeves, tied their shoes laces, and went to WORK at Harvest Hope Food Bank in Cayce, South Carolina. These students sorted and packaged more than 5 pallets of food for members of the community in need. Amanda Scott, an incoming first-year law student from Lincolnton, GA says, “All this week, the school administrators have been telling us that we are learning how to become lawyers. Lawyers help people. This is an awesome way to start that process without a degree.”

Students sorted liquid juice concentrate, chips, and other vital food items for the Cayce community. Long-time faculty participant, Professor Jan Baker believes that service is a vital aspect of the legal community. It’s equally important for people to know of the work we do in the courtroom and the tangible work we do for the community.

Harvest Hope Food Bank in Cayce is one of the smaller distribution centers in the midlands, but on average they serve over 150 families a day. Harvest Hope has approximately 6 staff workers and 80 regular volunteers. Warehouse leader “Ms. Marion” says that “without organizations like USC Pro Bono, we would not be able to serve the community at the level we do now. It’s humbling and amazing to see people care”

In the midst of laughter and fraternal bonding, these students learned what it meant to be a service leader. As they embark upon the next 3 years of law school, today’s service project has left an indelible mark upon their lives as model service leaders.  

Tony R. Johnson
Pro Bono Board 2014

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SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center checks in!

Wesley Cooler (1L): Service Day is a chance to reach out to a place some of us will want to work one day and to meet some lawyers in the area. It helps us get to know the area a lot of us will want to live someday—it sets our foundation early. At Appleseed, we are helping look out for the legal rights of people who can’t look out for themselves.

Thanks to the team that worked hard to help our friends at Appleseed get spruced up just in time to celebrate their 35th Anniversary! Congratulations SC Appleseed! You do amazing work!

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The HomeWorks warehouse

Dear Pam:
Wow! What an effort.
Each year the students come with smiles and leave with smiles after a hard day spent at the warehouse.
Thank you for including Home Works in the Community Service efforts!
Thank you.
Hank Chadros, Director, HomeWorks
Welcome to USC Professor Davis!!  She knows taxes and can fold t-shirts!!
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