Rule 401 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules allows law students in South Carolina law school clinical programs to practice law in South Carolina on a limited basis.
Law students must:
- Be enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law or the Charleston School of Law.
- Have completed the equivalent of four semesters of legal studies.
- Be certified by the law school Dean as being of good character and competent legal ability and being currently enrolled in a clinical course.
- Certify in writing that the student is familiar with, and will be governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Students may be subject to disciplinary action.
Law students may appear in any inferior court or before any administrative tribunal on behalf of indigent persons with the client’s consent or on behalf of the State of South Carolina or any of its departments, agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions with the written approval of the Attorney General.
Law students may also appear in inferior courts or before administrative tribunals on behalf of a non-indigent person or non-profit organization with the written consent of the client or written approval of the organization. A state or federal court, department, agency, institution, or other department of the University of South Carolina School of Law or the Charleston School of Law refers the case to the clinical education program.
The consent and approval must be filed in the record of the case and brought to the attention of the judge or presiding officer. The supervising attorney is required to be personally present throughout the proceedings in all cases.
Law students may engage in additional activities under the general supervising of the supervising attorney but outside the supervising attorney’s personal presence. These activities include:
- Preparing pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents to be approved and signed by the supervising attorney.
- Assisting indigent inmates of correctional institutions in preparing applications and supporting documents for postconviction relief. If there is an attorney of record in the matter, the attorney of record must supervise all such assistance and sign all documents submitted to the court on the inmate’s behalf. Soliciting representation of indigent inmates is a violation of the student practice rules.
- Mediating a dispute in a court annexed mediation program. Law students must have successfully completed a 40-hour mediation training program approved by the Board of Arbitrator and Mediator Certification of the Supreme Court’s Commission On Alternative Dispute Resolution. An attorney who is licensed to practice law in South Carolina and holds a current certification in mediation must provide on-site supervision.
Law students cannot ask for nor receive any compensation or remuneration of any kind for services performed under the student practice rules but may receive course credit. Clinical programs may seek attorney’s fees when appropriate.
The law school Dean must approve the supervising attorney, and the supervising attorney must assume personal professional responsibility for the student’s guidance and for supervising the quality of the student’s work.
Application and Certification
The law school Dean certificate must be filed with the Clerk of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The certificate remains in effect for 18 months or until the announcement of the first bar exam following the student’s graduation, whichever is earlier. If the student passes the bar exam, the certificate remains in effect until the student is admitted to the Bar.
The law school Dean may withdraw the certificate at any time without notice or hearing and without a showing of cause.