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The Legal System in South Carolina and Becoming a Lawyer Angela D. Rayl, Esquire.

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Presentation on theme: "The Legal System in South Carolina and Becoming a Lawyer Angela D. Rayl, Esquire."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Legal System in South Carolina and Becoming a Lawyer Angela D. Rayl, Esquire

2 What is a Lawyer? Black’s Law Dictionary defines a lawyer as: “One who is licensed to practice law.” Practice of Law is defined as: “The professional work of a duly licensed lawyer, encompassing a broad range of services such as conducting cases in court, preparing papers necessary to bring about various transactions from conveying land to effecting corporate mergers, preparing legal opinions on various points of law, drafting wills and other estate-planning documents, and advising clients on legal issues.”

3 Where Does Our Law Come From? Legislative – Statutes and Ordinances –Federal, state, and local governments pass laws that attempt to regulate societal behavior. Administrative - Regulations –Federal and state agencies (ie. DMV, DHEC, and Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation) attempt to clarify and fine-tune legislation through the adoption of regulations. Judicial –State and federal courts hear cases that require them to interpret issues of state and federal law. The courts’ interpretations become law in the form of “precedent.”

4 So... A Lawyer is: A professional who researches, learns, and attempts to apply the law from various governmental bodies (statutory, regulatory, and judicial precedent) to solve problems and advocate for their clients.

5 What Do Lawyers Do? Photo Courtesy of NBC Photo Courtesy of ABC

6 What Do Lawyers Do? Corporate Law –Advise the Corporation on whether their actions comply with state and federal law. –Can work with a law firm or as special counsel at a large corporation. –Draft and Review Contracts. –Negotiate Business Deals (Mergers and Acquisitions) –Corporate lawyers also advise the corporation as to issues of securities law (when corporations issue stock).

7 What Do Lawyers Do? Criminal Law –Solicitor – Represents the State in prosecuting someone who is charged with a crime. –Public Defender – Appointed by the state to represent indigent defendants who have been charged with breaking a law. –Private Criminal Defense Attorney – Hired by defendant who has been charged with breaking the law. –The Ultimate Goal in Criminal Law is to achieve justice for society, while protecting the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. –Criminal lawyers will spend a majority of their time in court, meeting with clients (either in jail or at their offices), and working with other lawyers to come to plea agreements.

8 What Do Lawyers Do? Family Law –Represent parties in divorce and child custody cases. –Represent clients in DSS child placement proceedings. –Represent clients in adoption proceedings. –All cases in the family court must go through a mediation process, so family law attorneys will represent clients in mediation. Tax Law –Working for government (IRS or State Department of Revenue) – prosecuting tax crimes. –Working in private practice defending individuals accused of tax crimes. –Also work in private practice advising other lawyers and businesses on complex tax issues.

9 What Do Lawyers Do? Attorneys for Government –Federal, state, and local governments have attorneys that advise them on constitutional and other legal matters. Military Law –Attorneys who work as officers of the military in court marshal proceedings. Environmental and Natural Resources Law –These attorneys usually work for the federal or state government or for nonprofit organizations (ie. Greenpeace, The Sierra Club) –Deal with environmental issues including endangered species, pollution regulation, and protections of wetlands and other natural resources.

10 What Do Lawyers Do? General Civil Litigation –Private attorneys who represent clients in civil litigation. Can include issues such as: Car Accident Workers Compensation Employment Law (Harassment, Discrimination) Consumer Law Products Liability Construction Law Medical Malpractice Law Breach of Contract Wrongful Death –Plaintiff: Usually a private individual –Defendant: Usually a private individual, or in the case of an insured claim, the insurance company.

11 What Do Lawyers Do? Probate and Estate Planning Law –Work with clients to draft wills, powers of attorney, trusts, and other instruments to plan for the distribution of their assets after their death. –Guide clients through the probate process after a loved one’s death. Property Lawyers –In South Carolina, all conveyances of land must be overseen by an attorney. –Perform closings. –Litigate property disputes. –Work with banks in foreclosure proceedings.

12 What Do Lawyers Do? Alternative Dispute Resolution –Relatively new development in the legal profession. –Some lawyers work exclusively as arbitrators or mediators. –Attempt to reduce costs and keep the parties out of court. Judges –In South Carolina, most judges are appointed by the legislature. –Hear cases and apply the law. –Interpret unanswered questions of law.

13 The Judicial System in South Carolina Supreme Court Exclusive Jurisdiction over Certain Types of Cases Court of Appeals Jurisdiction of appeals not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Family Court Exclusive Jurisdiction in Family and Juvenile Cases Circuit Court Common Pleas General Sessions (civil) (criminal) Master-in-Equity Referrals from Circuit Court Magistrate Courts Civil to $7,500.00 Criminal as set by statute (usually up to 30 days and/or $500) Municipal Courts Criminal as set by statute (usually up to 30 days and/or $500 Municipal Ordinances Traffic Offenses Probate Courts Administration of Estates Guardianships/conservatorships Mental/Substance Abuse Commitments Minor Settlements (under $10,000)

14 How to Become A Lawyer Undergraduate Degree (4 years) –Majors Political Science History English Science Some schools have majors in pre-law. LSAT and Law School Application Process –All applicants to law school must take the LSAT, a half-day standardized test that tests students logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, and reading comprehension. –LSAT is scored on a scale of 120-180. Law School –Law school admission is very competitive with the top 25 schools only admitting 10% of their applicant pool. Bar Exam –This is a three-day, written exam given in Columbia twice a year. –This exam tests competence in several areas of the law. –Includes a full day, multiple choice, Multistate Bar Examination portion.

15 What You Can Do With A Law Degree

16 Things You Can Do Today Debate Team Mock Trial Speak with Attorneys You Know Call the Bar Association to Try to Set up a Time to Shadow an Attorney

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