The SC Access to Justice Commission has announced the approval by the Supreme Court of its soon-to-open pilot self-help center.
I’d particularly draw attention to the strategy of having the pilot be a project of the Commission. This helps bring in all the stakeholders and provides a platform for replication based on the experience of the pilot. It also helps position the Commission long-term as the home of a variety of concrete initiatives across the continuum of services.
Particularly important here are the Guidelines for the Operation of Self-Help Centers in the South Carolina Courts, also formally approved by the Supreme Court. These Guidelines, which I understand from Commission staffer Robin Wheeler drew significantly from the California Guidelines, are well thought out, deal very well with issues of neutrality and integration with court management, and lay the groundwork for expansion when the time comes. I would encourage any states that are considering opening centers, or have opened centers but do not have such guidelines, to think about whether such Guidelines might be helpful to you.
SC is also timely in its low cost approach. Services are to be provided volunteer lawyers, and lots of partnering is to go on.