1975-1979

In the summer of 1975, the Executive Committee, upon the recommendation of Ken Childs, decided to employ a full-time executive director and to offer that position to Walt Biddle effective in the fall of 1975. Walt accepted the position and attended the 1975 Annual Convention at Hilton Head where his employment was announced to the membership. Ken Childs left the Association in September of 1975 in order to join the staff of the South Carolina Attorney General's Office. The Association expressed its appreciation to him for his many accomplishments on behalf of SCAJ and the trial bar at large.

The employment of a full-time Executive Director enabled SCAJ to begin its evolution into a polished, more professional organization. As Executive Director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, Walt Biddle had gained considerable expertise in managing a professional organization and protecting the interests of trial lawyers at the state and national levels. Membership participation and revenues soon reached the highest levels in the Association's history. The Association's seminar program was also expanded. Walt initiated the use of audio and videocassettes and the reproduction of papers presented by seminar speakers in order to make the seminars more accessible to attorneys across the state.

SCAJ continued to play an active role in the General Assembly. The Association presented testimony on bills of concern to members, and several statutory commissions formed during this time specifically designated slots to be filled from the SCAJ membership. General political information was sent regularly to the members by newsletter, and political participation by means of letter writing and contributions to campaign funds was encouraged.

The First Auto Torts Seminar was held in December 1976 in Atlanta, Georgia. The seminar has grown to become one of the most acclaimed programs the SCAJ offers and has received national recognition for its educational quality. Registration for the seminar now rivals that of the Convention.

Between 1975 and 1978, membership in the Association grew from approximately 400 to 1,000 and has since averaged about 1,250. In 1976, Lucy McAmis graduated from law school and prepared to enter the practice of law. Walt hired Claudia Cain as the Association's first full-time Administrative Secretary. Craig Wright remained with the staff until his graduation the following year.

In 1977, a political actions committee, the South Carolina Alliance for Legislative Education (SCALE), was formed. Tina Joseph was hired as its Administrator and the Association's first full-time Legislative Liaison. As a result, SCAJ acquired the capacity both to increase its emphasis on legislative development and to expand its membership services and activities.

Among the services added during this time were a monthly newsletter, group automobile leasing, an expert witness file and a group insurance program. Walt also initiated on the long-awaited SCAJ Brief Bank in 1976.

In 1977, the membership approved a change in the By-Laws to create an elected Board of Governors. The first elected Board took office in August 1978 with twenty-one Governors proportionally representing the membership by Congressional District. Richard J. Foster was named President Emeritus in recognition of his continuing dedication to the leadership in the Association. The Executive Committee was also reorganized to include the eight Association officers and four Governors elected annually by the Board. At some point in the late 1970's, the name changed to the South Carolina Association for Justice, and in 1977, new forms were filed with the Secretary of State incorporating the SCAJ.

Linda M. Franklin joined the staff in 1978 as Business Manager. She came to the Association from Midlands Technical College where she had served as Personnel Director. Her major responsibility was managing the Association's finances and serving as assistant to the Executive Director in personnel matters and seminar planning.

In February 1979, Walt Biddle accepted a position as Executive Director of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association. Ina S. Edens was named Executive Director in May of 1979, coming to the Association from the position of Administrative Assistant to the Judiciary Committee of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Her background with the Legislature was well-suited to the Association's desire to place an even stronger focus on monitoring and influencing the General Assembly in matters of concern to the trial bar.

Following the surge of growth the Association not only in membership but also in equipment, services and staff, the Association went through a real financial slump beginning in late 1978. Through the dedicated effort of the officers and staff, and cutbacks in spending, SCAJ was able to not only retire all debts, but begin modest savings accounts.

In June 1979, the SCAJ Brief Bank indexing system was finalized and the Brief Bank Index and Summary was published. Fred Kuhn, now practicing in Beaufort, compiled the previous three years' work by a succession of law clerks and produced the Brief Bank Index and Summary in its final form. The Brief Bank was merged with the ATLA exchange in 1995.

In December 1979, Jean Hungiville replaced Tina Joseph as Legislative Liaison and SCALE Administrator. Along with Ina Edens and the Associations legislative Committee, Jean concentrated on creating a larger and stronger network for information and cooperation on matters of interest to the trial bar and increased the lobbying efforts of SCAJ.

In 1979, the Association started a scholarship fund at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Known as the Portrait Fund, this program honored a judicial officer each year at the Convention. Funds were raised in the name of the honoree and subsequently given to USC as a contribution to the SCAJ Scholarship Fund. The first honoree was Judge Robert W. Hemphill. This project is still on going and has assisted many deserving students in realizing their goal of becoming an attorney.

Index    The Beginning    1960 - 1969    1970 - 1974 
1975 - 1979
    1980 - 1985    1986 - 1989    1990 - 1999 
2000 - Present
    Prologue 


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The South Carolina Association for Justice (SCAJ) was founded over 50 years ago by a small group of trial lawyers. Since then, our mission has been to serve our members and those we are sworn to protect.  We work to uphold and defend the constitutions of our state and nation. We fight tirelessly to protect the rights of the individual; to seek justice through open and fair courtrooms; to resist unjust laws; to support policies that hold wrongdoers accountable; to strengthen the civil justice system through education; and to uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in the legal profession.


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