In the recent months, the Court has engaged in several initiatives with the goal of providing access to justice to those parties proceeding pro se. Many of these parties are indigent and fail to obtain relief that may otherwise be merited due to the heightened requirements of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. To better serve indigent parties, the Court has coordinated its efforts with South Carolina Legal Services and the South Carolina Pro Bono Program. These organizations provide an opportunity for bankruptcy practitioners to provided discounted or free legal services to parties within a specific range of the federal poverty guidelines. For those attorneys wishing to participate in these programs or otherwise provide assistance to parties filing pro se, the Court offers the following information:
South Carolina Legal Services' Private Attorney Involvement Program allows attorneys to receive referrals for bankruptcy cases and compensation at the rate of $65.00 per hour. The debtors in these cases are generally above the poverty guidelines, have insufficient income to afford the presumptive fee allowed in chapter 13 cases but require chapter 13 relief. You can receive more information on this program by contacting Andrea Loney at 1-888-799-9668 ext. 4180.
The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program refers bankruptcy cases to a pool of volunteers who provide pro bono representation. Although the volunteers for the Pro Bono Program have generally handled chapter 7 cases for debtors near the poverty guidelines, the program has agreed to accept more Chapter 13 cases. You can volunteer for this program by contacting Jill Rothstein at 803-799-6653 at extension 159.
In addition to the foregoing, the South Carolina Bar also offers the Lawyer Referral Service whereby attorneys can join the service and receive referrals of bankruptcy cases through the Bar. More information on this program is available through the Bar's website at www.scbar.org
Finally, in recent months and at the request of the Trustees, the Court has established a list of attorneys who would be willing to accept referrals of case filed pro se which it may provide to parties who do not otherwise qualify for the above referenced programs. The Court also continues to provide a monthly Ask A Lawyer session to provide information to parties regarding bankruptcy and has significantly enhanced the information it provides on its Web page. If you are willing to participate on the Court's referral list or in the Ask A Lawyer program, you may contact Sharon Greene at 803-765-5038 or email Judge Waites chambers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Judges of this Court are very proud that the members of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Bar are generally recognized as being some of the most generous and skilled volunteers when it comes to assistance to pro se parties. We hope that you will continue in that spirit and advise us of your participation in one of these opportunities by email at email@example.com.