Legislative issues began to pick up again during the 1986 Session, and the Association's emphasis moved back to the legislative arena. Contract lobbyists were hired for the first time and have been utilized since. A major assault on the tort system began and for the first time in the history of the Association, a public relations firm was hired to assist us in framing the message to the public and to the Legislature.

The SCAJ quickly realized that the public needed to know about the dangers of pending legislation. Individual members began to search for other groups to work with. Coalition partners were identified, and the SCAJ began to work with groups like the AFL-CIO, the Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment and South Carolina Fair Share. These alliances continue today.

Beginning in 1986, the Board of Governors debated ways in which to pay for the costs associated with the newly expanding lobbying and public relations efforts. There were attacks on the tort system in the areas of medical malpractice, automobile insurance and worker's compensation. The make-up of the Legislature was changing, and anti-lawyer sentiments were rampant among the public. It was apparent that we had to take immediate action; action which cost money. At first the Association requested contributions from the membership. When that failed to bring in enough money, the Board voted to assess the membership based on the number of years in practice. There were several members that did not want to pay the assessment. While some dropped their membership, others, after much thought and consideration, did pay the assessment. This became a very controversial issue and hopefully there will not be a need for another assessment.

The SCAJ purchased its first computer system in the late 1980's. At first only selected staff received the computers for financial data bookkeeping and word processing. The seeds of a great transition to move into the computer age were planted.

In October 1987, Ina Edens left the Association, and John Durst was asked to replace her as Executive Director. John had been involved with the Association for several years through his public relations firm, John Durst and Associates.

In 1989, during John's tenure as Executive Director, the Association faced a major fight on automobile insurance on the floor of the South Carolina House of Representatives. The debate ended in a compromise whereby responsible automobile insurance reform measures were passed, and the consumers of our state were left unharmed.

During this time, the Association re-wrote its by-laws to bring better representation of all members to the Board. Representation on the Board changed from Congressional District to Judicial Circuit. Key ATLA leaders from our State were placed on our Board as voting members.

When John Durst resigned in June 1989 as Executive Director to return to the public relations field, the Board voted to promote Linda Franklin to the position of Executive Director. Linda still serves in that capacity.

The Board and Linda Franklin immediately began to restructure the Association. Important decisions were made involving staff, the facility that houses the headquarters, and the Association's role in the public and legislative areas.

Coretta Bedsole left the Association for a brief period in 1989 and was replaced by Steve Harris as the staff lobbyist. Steve left the Association in early 1990 and Coretta Bedsole returned. She was promoted to Director of Governmental Affairs and assumed the role of chief lobbyist. Coretta was given the responsibility of overseeing the Association's legislative programs and the contract lobbyists.

In the fall of 1989, the Association played its first major public outreach role by assisting the citizens of our State with problems that arose as a result of Hurricane Hugo. Supplies were purchased by SCAJ members and sent to Charleston and Sumter. Members volunteered their time to help with clean up. People's Law Schools were held in hard hit areas of the State. These programs assisted hurricane victims with processing insurance claims and other legal problems. The Association teamed up with the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs, tax attorneys and others to bring much needed information to victims of the hurricane.

At the same time renovations began on the Association headquarters and the staff was restructured. It was decided to bring the public relations activities in-house and expand the Association's community service role. In October of 1989, Nola Armstrong was hired as the Director of Communications. Nola came to the Association from Fowler Communications where she had been a Senior Account Executive.

Bernice Polen was hired as Secretary to Nola and Coretta. She joined Ruth Shafer who had come on board in 1986 as the Association's Administrative Assistant. This freed Ruth's time to work directly with Linda Franklin as her assistant.

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




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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