News 2 I-Team finds affordable legal help across the Lowcountry

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCBD) — A Summerville woman turned to News 2, claiming contractors installed her roof improperly.

The mobile home owner, Linda Escamilla, says was constructed back in 2009.

The service came with a lifetime guarantee. The roof itself came with a lifetime warranty.

“Shortly after that the first rainstorm I had you could start seeing the water coming through the ceiling because there’s stains in my ceiling now,” said Escamilla.

When she noticed the leaking, she says she contacted the company to complete the repairs she believed were due. She says they refused to help her, so she let it go…until, now. Her elderly mother will be living with her soon.

“You can tell the water stains are getting bigger,” said Escamilla.

“We get a lot of rain in the summer months, and because of the water coming through the roof, she might fall, so I want to get it fixed,” she said.

Escamilla has always felt she had a legal case that could be fought in the court system.

The problem?

“I barely have money for the basic needs, let alone a new roof,” she said. She fears she can’t afford an attorney to fight her case in court.

Charleston Attorney Ryan Neville says the small claims court system exists for that purpose–so you can represent yourself in court.

“To have a forum for people to air their grievances and the rules are more relaxed. They’re set up and more designed to help people who can’t afford an attorney,” Neville said.

Those filing a claim will face around $80 for a filing fee. They will fill out paperwork explaining their case. The defendant then has 30 days to respond.

“The legal system is complex and hard to navigate,” said Attorney Sally Newman.

That’s why Newman founded Charleston Legal Access in 2016.

Two other attorneys are on her staff now, including Adair Boroughs.

“We’re both from blue collar backgrounds. We understand the frustration and unfairness of not being able to access an attorney in these situations,” said Boroughs.

“It’s the first sliding scale law firm in south Carolina,” said Newman.

“What we’ve seen in the legal market is that, in the current structure, there isn’t a place for people with modest means,” she said.

The group provides legal help, but charges a price based on your income. T

he attorneys say they charge about $50-$100 per hour.

Another option is Charleston Pro Bono. The group will help to find free legal services for certain individuals.

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