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Disclosure form is one more hurdle for lawyer candidates (access required)

Disclosing economic interests on a form may be a turnoff for some lawyers contemplating a run for statewide office, but at least two who ran said the form was the least of their worries. Bigger deterrents to seeking office are the time and effort devoted to campaigning, the loss of earnings and the chance of political mudslinging, said a lawyer who ran for attorney general in 2010. "Running for office is really, really tough, and you're asking someone to take a professional sacrifice, a pay sacrifice, and it's tough to get people from big law firms to do it," said Leighton Lord (pictured).

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Pre-filed bills await lawmakers as they reconvene (access required)

As the General Assembly convenes next week, legislators will be facing a wide array of pre-filed bills. Hundreds of proposed new laws cover everything from government restructuring to texting to roadside foliage control. And while most may be of some interest to lawyers as voters and taxpayers, fewer are likely to have a direct bearing on the practice of law. Those that do include a number of bills that potentially affect state courts and their procedures, including the selection of judges and masters-in-equity, the retirement age of magistrates and approval of search warrants via electronic communications.

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2010 sees new buildings and precedents, as well as continued money problems (access required)

For South Carolina's legal community, 2010 arguably was a year of ups and downs. On the upside, the S.C. Bar opened its new conference center, capping an effort that had begun years before to provide the room and technology necessary to accommodate the needs of a membership 13,000 strong. On the downside, a continuing dearth of legislative funding for Rule 608 indigent appointments finally forced the state to stop paying lawyers for their work in civil cases.

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Q&As with the 2011 Emerging Legal Leaders finalists

For the first time, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly is recognizing a select group of attorneys - all of whom have practiced for 10 years or less - for their service to the profession and their communities. Colleagues, clients, firms and friends nominated a large number for the honors, and that group has been narrowed to 18 finalists. In order to get to know them better, we asked each finalist a series of personal questions. Their answers to one question apiece are presented here.

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Broad range of bills filed before Jan. 11 session (access required)

Dozens of state legislative proposals on subjects ranging from careless driving to government reorganization are stacking up again this year as members of the General Assembly get ready for another session of lawmaking. If pre-filed bills are any indication, legislators seem bent on not only hitting the ground running but also in covering a lot of it before they adjourn sometime early next summer. And why not? With state government reeling from repeated budget cuts and with more reductions predicted, they may be in for a busy session reminiscent of last year, when agencies lined up to ask for money that wasn't always available.

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Things lawyers need to know in 2011 (access required)

How will the U.S. Supreme Court rule in cases involving arbitration and pleading standards? Why does your firm need a social media policy? What do you do if your client declares bankruptcy? You will find the answers to these questions and more in this year's edition of "Things Lawyers Need to Know," complied by Lawyers USA, our national sister paper. From the hottest technology tools to the latest tips for marketing your practice, we give you the insight you need to run a better law practice in the year ahead.

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Upcoming book takes readers on a historic tour of SC’s courthouses (access required)

Here's a little-known nugget of Palmetto State legal history: The last witch trial in the United States was held in Lancaster County in 1813. Details of the case are sparse, but it boiled down to a young girl's accusation against a woman she claimed had turned her into a horse and had ridden her through the streets and lanes of Lancaster and as far afield as Cheraw. The scary and scurrilous claim didn't get too far, and defendant Barbara Powers was acquitted. But the case shines - or perhaps glows eerily - as an example of the unusual and arcane facets of legal history captured in a soon-to-be-published book about South Carolina's courthouses.

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Court: Landfill worker impaired but not disabled (access required)

A Sumter landfill attendant who hasn't missed any time from work due to his 2002 back injury but claimed permanent disability will have to live with the Workers' Compensation Commission's disability rating, the Court of Appeals held Dec. 16. Columbia attorney Mary Sowell League (pictured), who argued the case on behalf of Sumter County, said that when commissioners assess a claimant's disability rating, they have a more global picture of the claimant's injuries, functionality and work abilities. "A disability award is based on a panoply of factors including the ability to work in the claimant's current job or another job, one's age, one's education. ... It's a larger picture, and it is left up to the judgment of the commissioner," League said.

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Lower-scale and loving it (access required)

With the chill of recession still lingering in the air, South Carolina law firms might not be ready to party quite as hard for the holidays as they did before the economy turned cold. But they're happy to donate to charity, and several large firms are doing so while continuing the 2009 trend of greater frugality when it comes to parties. What's more, they like it that way.

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