In early 1990, the Professional Legal Assistant Association contacted President John McDougall. This group requested that the Association create a special category of membership within the SCAJ. The legal assistants wanted to join the SCAJ so that they could attend seminars and conventions at the member rate. The by-laws were changed in April of 1990 creating a legal assistant category of membership in the Association. It was required that legal assistants be employed by members of the Association and that this would be a non-voting category of membership.

The early 1990's proved a time of major change. The Bulletin was re-vamped and became the publication that we know today. Public outreach programs were formulated, including improved People's Law School programs, community service projects, and several safety campaigns. It was during this period that the safety brochures we use today were printed. The Safe Toys for Kids program was developed that brings safe toys, school supplies and clothing to children in Head Start programs across the state.

In October 1992, the Board of Governors amended the By-Laws. The Chairperson of each Section would serve on the Board of Governors with voting privileges. The purpose of this Amendment was to give more voice to the diverse practices of the membership and to more equitably represent the membership on the Board. A change in the By-Laws brought another category of membership in October of 1998 when the public sector members were recognized.

In February of 1993 the Board of Governors discussed the creation of a Young Lawyers Section within the Association. The Board defined a "young lawyer" as any lawyer under the age of 35 years or one who has been in the practice of law for less than five years. Hal Driggers of Columbia, was appointed to chair this newly formed section.

Efforts began to better inform our members of issues before the Association. These statewide membership meetings became one of the Association's priorities. Association leadership and staff scheduled membership meetings around the state two times each year to educate the membership on issues before the Association.

As activities and projects increased, the staff expanded their roles to meet the needs of the Association. Ruth Shafer was promoted to a newly created position of Public Affairs Assistant. She began assisting with legislative programs, seminars, membership services and community service projects.

With the new position the total number of full-time staff increased to seven. Bernice Polen was promoted to Administrative Assistant. Loretta Simpkins was hired in 1993 to fill the position of Secretary. In March 1995, Doug Harris joined the Association staff as Bookkeeper. His role quickly expanded to provide technical support for SCAJ's ongoing efforts to upgrade our computer system and the upkeep of elections information.

In 1994 the Association grew increasingly involved in the elections process. ATLA consultant and Kent State University, Professor of Political Science, Murray Fischel was brought in to help the Association decide how to effectively become involved in elections. Professor Fischel is well known around the country as an expert in local elections. Seminars for the Board of Governors and selected legislators were held educating them on effective campaign techniques. Four candidates were selected to help in targeted campaigns. The Association helped these candidates with campaign materials, other in-kind materials and consultation with Murray Fischel. This was the beginning of the SCAJ's active role working for candidates outside of the fundraising process of SCAJ PAC. During the mid to late 1990's Murray Fischel and the SCAJ worked with several candidates. The Association worked to expand information available to targeted candidates including voter file information and walking lists. In 1999, the Association began a search to find southern political strategists for both republican and democratic candidates. The political goal of the SCAJ is to establish a "Civil Justice Majority" made up of legislators from all political parties.

In 1997 the SCAJ hired ATLA consultant Ed Lazarus to help define a public education message for the Association. Media training seminars were held for the Board of Governors, Committee and Section chairs. The motto "Keeping South Carolina Families Safe" was adopted. This message was added to all Association printed materials and as a "frame" whenever members speak to groups or to the media. The message succinctly defines the role the Association seeks to fill locally and statewide.

Legislative concerns have branched out to the national scene. SCAJ and the other TLA's around the country are now working more closely than ever with ATLA on Congressional matters. In 1996 a key contact program was formulated for Congresspersons and meetings are being held on a regular basis with members of the Congressional delegation. SCAJ members, as always, are rising to the occasion and bringing their commitment and support to protecting the jury system and keeping consumers safe.

In February of 1997 the SCAJ Board of Governors voted to clarify the By-laws of the Association in regard to who is a regular voting member of the Association. The by-laws wording was changed to ensure that those who represent parties in family court or those who represent plaintiff or claimants may also be regular members. The Board went on to add that "Provided that any person who generally or regularly represents defendants or insurance companies in the civil justice system shall not be classified as a regular member."

In November of 1998 Coretta Bedsole left the Association and Jim Edwards, an experienced lobbyist from Charleston joined the staff in the position of Director of Governmental Affairs and Development.

In April of 1999, Linda Franklin celebrated her 20th year with the SCAJ. The Association celebrated this milestone with a surprise party at the offices of Chappell and Smith in Columbia. She received greetings and messages of congratulations from around the country. The Texas General Assembly made her an "Honorary Texan" and the Mississippi Trial Lawyers issued a proclamation. The SC General Assembly issued a joint proclamation in her honor, Senator Hollings recognized her on the floor of the U.S. Senate and Governor Jim Hodges awarded her the Order of the Palmetto, our state's highest honor. Her years of service and dedication to the Association have had a real impact on our success.

The Association is still undergoing changes, something the current Board feels we must do if we are to continue to be a vibrant, needed organization. We are currently in the process of moving our computer system into the 21st century. New hardware and software have been purchased, and a technology committee has been formed to assess the Association's needs. A computer bulletin board was established and then as technology grew it was replaced by our participation in the South Carolina Bar's listserve. This internet message board supplies secure communication between members of the Association where ideas, issues and cases may be discussed via email. This service has dramatically improved communications among our rank and file members.

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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