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As the first of the original thirteen British colonies in America to declare its independence from Great Britain, South Carolina has had a long history with American legal activities. In fact, South Carolina is home to one of the oldest bar associations in the nation, the Charleston County Bar Association. Although South Carolina’s legal community has been active for centuries, the state is home to the second-lowest ratio of lawyers to residents in the country. Currently, there is approximately only one attorney for every 493 residents.
While there are relatively few attorneys in South Carolina, many of these lawyers are very active in the state’s legal community. There are several bar associations serving the whole state that allow for these South Carolina lawyers to become involved in the legal profession outside of the office and the courtroom. The largest of these is the South Carolina Bar, whose large number of members is attributed to the fact that all lawyers that are licensed to practice in South Carolina must belong to it. Since membership for the South Carolina Bar is mandatory, it provides several different kinds of opportunities for its members to be involved in South Carolina’s legal community and grow professionally.
Aside from belonging to the mandatory South Carolina Bar, several lawyers are also members of a number of voluntary state-wide bar associations that are focused on supporting a single area of legal practice. These associations exist to provide a way for attorneys in South Carolina to connect with one another so that they may work together to promote that type of legal practice. Examples of South Carolina bar associations that are focused on just one area of legal practice include the Carolina Patent Trademark Copyright Law Association, the South Carolina Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and the South Carolina Association for Justice.
There are also a number of bar associations that only cover a small regional portion of South Carolina, usually a county, for the attorneys that really want to get involved on a local level. A large number of South Carolina lawyers choose to be active members in these local bar associations. This high level of participation in local bar associations in South Carolina is evidenced by the fact that one of these bar associations, the Richland County Bar Association, has the highest number of members for a volunteer bar association in the state. Other examples of local bar associations that serve lawyers that want to be involved in the legal community where they live and work include the Spartanburg County Bar Association, the Beaufort County Bar Association, and the Horry County Bar Association.