Arts Organizations




About the SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

The SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (SCVLA) is a collaboration project of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program, the USC School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, the SC Arts Commission and the SC Bar Pro Bono Program. The purpose is to provide pro bono legal assistance to the arts community in SC.

SCVLA is essentially a referral service to those in the arts; we do not represent clients. We will, however, gather facts and review your legal matter/s and try to help you find legal representation. Our volunteer attorneys are busy professionals who donate their time to SCVLA clients. We cannot assign or require any attorney to represent you. We work with dedicated volunteer attorneys and will do our best to refer you to an attorney for help.

The goal of the SCVLA is to provide services to as many clients as possible; however, because the Nonprofit Organizations Clinic operates on an academic schedule and has limited resources, not all clients will be able to be assisted and may be referred to an attorney outside the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who may ask for assistance?
Pro bono legal assistance is available to qualifying South Carolina artists and arts organizations for arts-related legal needs.
What is an arts-related legal issue?
The South Carolina Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (SCVLA) provides legal assistance for arts-related legal issues. The SCVLA works with both low-income individual artists and non-profit arts organizations. Individual artists will be referred to a pro bono attorney for assistance while non-profit arts organizations will be referred primarily to the University of South Carolina School of Law's Nonprofit Organizations Clinic.
Legal aid offered by the SCVLA is restricted to arts-related legal issues. The SCVLA's definition of art is broad and encompasses the visual, literary, media, design, and performing arts. Depending on the circumstances, almost any issue could be "arts-related." Arts related legal issues usually arise in connection with the conception, creation, exhibition, or exchange of art. On the other hand, traffic violations, criminal proceedings, personal injury, family law, and plaintiff's suits generally will not qualify as arts related legal issues.
Simply because an artist or an arts organization has a legal issue does not mean that that artist or organization necessarily has an arts-related legal issue. For example, Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky decide to get together and start a delivery service. When the partnership fails, the two artists are faced with the legal issue of dissolving the partnership. This scenario most likely does not present an arts-related legal issue because even though two artists are involved, the legal issue itself is not directly related to the arts. On the other hand, if the same scenario occurred except that instead of making deliveries the pair was working together to produce a ballet, then there would most likely be an arts-related legal issue. Unlike the prior scenario, here the legal issue directly relates to the arts, specifically, the production of the ballet.
The SCVLA encourages applicants who are unsure as to whether their legal issue qualifies as an arts-related legal issue to go ahead and fill out an application. If the SCVLA is unable to provide assistance, it will refer the applicant to experienced attorneys for fee based representation.
How do I apply and what are the criteria?
All applications for service are received via this web site. The criteria are integrated into the application. Your application will be received, screened and forwarded to the appropriate resource
Is this service free?
Yes, any pro bono service provided either by an individual volunteer attorney or through the USC School of Law Nonprofit Organizations Clinic is free. Some legal issues may require the attorney to take your case to court or to file documents with a government agency. In these situations there may be some related expenses. The volunteer attorney will explain these costs to you if this becomes relevant to your case. The pro-bono legal services offered by the SCVLA do not cover the expense of various administrative fees that may be required by the South Carolina courts or agencies, such as filing fees, etc.
How do I get started?
Simply return to the homepage and if you are an individual artist click on the Artists button. If you are an Arts Organizations apply via the Arts Organizations button. Complete all the requested information on the application and submit. All information submitted on the application is confidential and only shared with the pro bono attorney.
SCVLA is not staffed to provide emergency legal assistance. Please be prepared for it to take 2-4 weeks to find an attorney. Sometimes it takes longer to exchange paperwork and obtain pro bono approval from law firms. Some matters are harder to place than others. SCVLA can neither guarantee that it will be able to refer your case to a volunteer nor that the representation will be successful. SCVLA is merely a referral organization. SCVLA makes no representation as to the skill of the referral attorney. You will be represented by the volunteer or the volunteer's firm and not by SCVLA.
Am I assured that I will receive assistance with my arts related legal issue?
We make no promise that we can help every person or organization but if you meet all the criteria we will make every effort to locate a pro bono attorney to help you with a solution. Unfortunately there will be occasions when resources are unavailable or you do not meet the criteria required. SC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts may also decide that your issue does not have a close enough nexus to the arts to be eligible. All decisions to accept applications are final. If we are unable to provide assistance we will make every effort to direct you to other available resources.


The materials and information contained on the South Carolina Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts website are intended to provide general information. It should not be utilized as a substitute for professional legal advice. If advice or other expert assistance is needed, please consult a professional.

Transmission and receipt of materials provided by the SCVLA website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Furthermore, the act of sending an email to an attorney associated with the SCVLA will not instantly create an attorney-client relationship.

The SCVLA, the SC Arts Commission, the SC Bar and the USC School of Law are not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused or allegedly caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information, goods, services or content available on or through such sites or resources. The SCVLA is not responsible or liable for the content's accuracy, copyright, trademark, compliance or legality of material contained within such sites.