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.
“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.”
“This summer I am spending time working on assisting Unite Heads in crafting and creating new online classrooms for learnthelaw.org. 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.”