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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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RULE 403
TRIAL EXPERIENCES

(a) General Rule. Although admitted to practice law in this State, an attorney shall not appear as counsel in any hearing, trial, or deposition in a case pending before a court of this State until the attorney’s trial experiences required by this rule have been approved by the Supreme Court. An attorney whose trial experiences have not been approved may appear as counsel if the attorney is accompanied by an attorney whose trial experiences have been approved under this rule or who is exempt from this rule, and the other attorney is present throughout the hearing, trial, or deposition. Attorneys admitted to practice law in this State on or before March 1, 1979, are exempt from the requirements of this rule. Attorneys holding a limited certificate to practice law in this State need not comply with the requirements of this rule.

(b) Trial Experiences Defined.� A trial experience is defined as the:

(1) actual participation in an entire contested testimonial-type trial or hearing if the attorney is accompanied by an attorney whose trial experiences have been approved under this rule or who is exempt from this rule, and the other attorney is present throughout the hearing or trial;

(2) observation of an entire contested testimonial-type trial or hearing; or

(3) participation in a judicial observation and experience program approved by the Chief Justice�s Commission on the Profession, provided the student participates in the program for a minimum of two weeks.

(c) Trial Experiences Required.  An attorney must complete four (4) trial experiences.  The required trial experiences are:

(1) one (1) civil jury trial in a Court of Common Pleas or in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina;

(2) one (1) criminal jury trial in General Sessions Court or in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina;

(3) one (1) trial in the Family Court; and

(4) one (1) trial experience which must be either a trial in equity before a circuit judge, master-in-equity, or special referee, or an administrative proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge or administrative officer of this State or of the United States. The administrative proceeding must be governed by either the South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act or the Federal Administrative Procedure Act, and the hearing must take place within South Carolina.

Each of the trial experiences set forth in (1) and (2) above must include an opening statement, a closing argument and direct and cross examination of at least three witnesses.  Trial experiences in the Family Court set forth in (3) must include direct and cross examination of at least two witnesses.

(d) When Trial Experiences May be Completed.

(1) Rule 403(b)(1) and (2) trial experiences may be completed any time after the completion of one-half ( � ) of the credit hours needed for law school graduation.

(2) Rule 403(b)(3) trial experiences, involving participation in a judicial observation and experience program approved by the Chief Justice�s Commission on the Profession, may be completed after a law student has completed one year of law school.� The supervising judge may sign the certificate giving credit for the trial experience upon completion of the program.

(e) Certificate to be Filed. The attorney shall file with the Supreme Court a Certificate showing that the trial experiences have been completed. This Certificate, which shall be on a form approved by the Supreme Court, shall state the names of the cases, the dates and the tribunals involved and shall be attested to by the respective judge, master, referee or administrative officer. A filing fee of $25 shall accompany the Certificate.

(f) Attorneys Admitted in Another State. An attorney who has been admitted to practice law in another state, territory or the District of Columbia for three (3) years may satisfy the requirements of this rule by providing proof of equivalent experience in the other jurisdiction for each category of cases specified in (c) above. This proof of equivalent experience shall be made in the form of an affidavit and shall include at least the name of the case, the case number, a brief description of the facts of the case and the type of trial experience used to satisfy the requirements of (c) above. To provide the definitive evidence required of attorneys under this section, a letter from a judge of a court of record in the other jurisdiction with personal knowledge of the attorney, attesting to that attorney’s trial competence, may be substituted for detailed evidence of such experience. The affidavit shall be filed with the Supreme Court. A filing fee of $25 shall accompany the affidavit.

(g) Judge Advocate General Lawyers. The Judge Advocate General’s Corps of any service of the Armed Forces of the United States (including the United States Coast Guard) shall be considered a jurisdiction for the purposes of (f) above. Further, for the purposes of (f) above, an attorney who has been a judge advocate for three years or more, either active or reserve, may use a court-martial with members as equivalent experience for the trial experience required in (c)(2), and may use a separation action or other adverse personnel action before a formal board of officers as equivalent experience for the trial experience required by (c)(4). Additionally, an attorney who has served on active duty as a judge advocate for three (3) years or more may submit a letter from a military judge or staff judge advocate with personal knowledge of the attorney attesting to the attorney’s trial competence, and this letter shall have the same effect as the letter from a judge under (f) above. The military judge or staff judge advocate submitting the letter must have the rank of Colonel or above in the Army, Air Force, or Marines or Captain or above in the Navy or Coast Guard. All other requirements of (f) must be complied with.

(h) Circuit Court Law Clerks and Federal District Court Law Clerks. A person employed full time for nine (9) months as a law clerk for a South Carolina circuit court judge or as a law clerk for a United States District Court Judge in the District of South Carolina may be certified as having completed the requirements of this rule by participating in or observing one (1) experience described in (c)(3) or (4) above. A part-time law clerk may be certified in a similar manner if the law clerk has been employed as a law clerk for at least 1350 hours. The law clerk must submit a statement from a judge or other court official certifying that the law clerk has been employed as a law clerk for the period required by this rule. A Certificate (see (e) above) must be submitted for the trial.

(i) Appellate Court Law Clerks and Staff Attorneys. A person employed full time for eighteen (18) months as a law clerk or staff attorney for the Supreme Court of South Carolina or the South Carolina Court of Appeals, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit may be certified as having completed the requirements of this rule by participating in or observing one (1) experience described in (c)(3) or (4) above. A part-time law clerk or staff attorney may be certified in a similar manner if the law clerk or staff attorney has been employed as a law clerk or staff attorney for at least 2700 hours. The law clerk or staff attorney must submit a statement from a judge, justice or other court official certifying that the law clerk has been employed as a law clerk or staff attorney for the period required by this rule. A Certificate (see (e) above) must be submitted for the trial.

(j) Bankruptcy Law Clerks. A person employed full time for nine (9) months as a law clerk for a United States Bankruptcy Judge in South Carolina may be certified as having completed the requirements of this rule by participating in or observing the three (3) trial experiences described in (c)(1), (2) and (3) above. A part-time law clerk may be certified in a similar manner if the law clerk has been employed as a law clerk for at least 1350 hours. The law clerk must submit a statement from a judge or other court official certifying that the law clerk has been employed as a law clerk for the period required by this rule. A Certificate (see (e) above) must be submitted for the trials.

(k) Approval or Disapproval. The Court will notify the attorney if the trial experiences submitted in the Certificate or affidavit have been approved or disapproved.

(l) Confidentiality. The confidentiality provisions of Rule 402(i), SCACR, shall apply to all files and records of the Clerk of the Supreme Court relating to the administration of this rule. The Clerk may, however, disclose whether an attorney’s trial experiences have been approved and the date of that approval.

Amended by Order dated May 30, 2003, effective September 1, 2003.

Amended by Order dated April 7, 2004, to provide filing fees under sections (e) and (f) of the Rule.

Amended by Order dated February 17, 2005, effective February 17, 2005.

Amended by Order dated March 26, 2007, effective March 26, 2007.

Amended by Order dated September 6, 2007, effective immediately, clarifying section (c)(4) to require trial in equity or an administrative proceeding.

Amended section (g) by Order dated February 21, 2008, effective immediately.

Amended by Order dated November 21, 2008, effective immediately.

Amended by Order dated June 28, 2010, effective immediately.