Greenwood PAI Attorney of the Year

The Greenwood Office of South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) spotlights Mary C. Williams as its PAI Attorney of the Year. PAI stands for Private Attorney Involvement. This program pays private attorneys a reduced fee to represent our clients. It allows SCLS to serve more clients and provides clients with a wider range of talented attorneys.

Ms. Williams aims to be a servant leader, both in her professional and personal life. When asked about her work, she discussed her desire to solve the legal challenges, but also to help the client overcome other barriers they have, which may affect the legal issue. For example, she has recently encouraged a client to seek mental health services and identified which services are available. For another client, she straightened out problems with a client’s Veterans Affairs benefits. The Managing Attorney for the Greenwood Office says “Mary truly cares about our individual clients, and it shows in the work she does. She goes above and beyond to accept difficult cases, to understand and empathize with the clients, and to introduce them to services that assist with their other needs.”

Ms. Williams’s interest in people and meeting their needs is apparent throughout her career. She graduated from Erskine College and University of South Carolina School of Law. Early in her legal career, she worked at Legal Services Agency of Western Carolina, for South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) Office for General Counsel, and for Children’s Law Center. She became the Director of Human Services for SCDSS and then the Director of Program Improvement at SCDSS. She was appointed in December 2011 as Director of Agency Performance for the District of Columbia Child Welfare Agency.

She has also created a curriculum to teach social workers and currently has a consulting company for child welfare and elderly services. She has served on boards, such as American Public Human Services Association National Child Welfare Advisory Committee on Positioning Public Child Welfare sponsored by the Casey Foundation, the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute sponsored by the Children’s Bureau, the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA) of the American Public Human Services, and the Executive Committee of NAPCWA. Ms. Williams is the recipient of a South Carolina General Assembly Resolution honoring her years of public service in child welfare. The resolution was passed by all members of the House of Representative and signed by the Speaker of the House.

She has written articles for the South Carolina Bar on child maltreatment, domestic violence, education, and housing law. She is the author of “Public Policy Regarding Juveniles: A Review of the Impact for African Americans”, published by the Columbia Urban League in the State of Black South Carolina. She has written several publications on domestic violence to include The Link between Domestic Violence and honoring her years of public service in child welfare.

Her life has been inspired by this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” We are grateful that Ms. Williams shares her experience, her talents and her compassion with our staff and clients.

If you would like to join our PAI program, please contact our Executive Director, Andrea E. Loney, at

SCLS Welcomes Access Two Justice Technology Fellows To Our Technology Innovation Team

We are pleased to introduce our two Access to Justice (ATJ) Tech Fellows that are working with our Technology Innovation Team this summer. Angelica Padgett is a rising third year law student (3L) at the University of South Carolina School of Law and Stephanie Pacheco is a rising 3L at the Charleston School of Law. Students like Angelica and Stephanie are spending their summers working at legal aid programs across the nation to help narrow the justice gap.

Now in its fourth year, the Access To Justice Technology Fellowship Program is supported by the Law School Admission Council and the Legal Services Corporation. It was created to equip law students to become leaders in the legal profession by providing them with tools and skills to leverage technology, data, and user-centered design.

Angelica and Stephanie are 2 of 23 students leveraging technology and other interdisciplinary approaches to advance legal access in low income and marginalized communities around the United States.

With funding from a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) from Legal Services Corporation, South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) is partnering with the S.C. Bar Pro Bono Program and the Greenville County Bar Pro Bono Foundation to add 6 more online classrooms to our repository of five. We produced classrooms on Domestic Violence, Getting Your Landlord to Make Repairs, Guardianship, Debt Collection in Summary Court and Unemployment Benefit Appeals with the help of a previous TIG grant. The 6 new classes will cover Foreclosure, Eviction, Special Education, Debt Collection in Circuit Court, Criminal Record Expungements and Heirs Property Preservation.

The project also includes production of a live action trial video depicting a divorce hearing with unrepresented parties. Our fellows are working on concept development, scripting, editing and production to create this unique tool to guide parties through the final hearing process and shorten the time it takes for the Court to help them navigate. This new video asset will be a prototype for more to come.

The 10-week summer fellowship program provides more than summer employment. It began with a two-day virtual bootcamp training designed to educate the fellows in the changing landscape of legal service delivery. In addition to working on our projects, the fellows are participating in a series of writing challenges designed to allow them to produce writing samples and develop their voice in the legal arena. Each fellow will showcase their work on a personal blog courtesy of LexBlog. The program also produces a Justice Innovators Speakers Series and provides the fellows access to its online Training Resource Center. Specific to the current health crisis, a new virtual mentorship program with volunteer leaders from the industry was introduced to foster a sense of community and provide guidance to the fellows.

Our partners and clients will benefit from the exciting new and innovative resources these thoughtful law students are creating with our lawyers and partners.

Angelica Padgett (right)

Working at South Carolina Legal Services this summer is an opportunity that I am eternally grateful for. Consulting with unitheads on updating the Lawhelp website and working with Susan on creating a Live-Action Trial video has taught me more about myself and allowed me to use skills that are not taught in law school. This has definitely been a great experience.”

Stephanie Pacheco

This summer I am spending time working on assisting Unite Heads in crafting and creating new online classrooms for Classrooms under development for this summer cover a wide variety of legal concepts, including heirs property preservation, individual education plans (IEPs), evictions, debt collection in the court of common pleas, expungement procedure, and foreclosures. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to work with SCLS this summer to help get this information in a place that people who need it can access it.”