latest news

2017 Dicus Award Nomination

Martha Browning Dicus (1949-2012) enjoyed a 34-year public interest career primarily as a front-line legal aid attorney and public defender, during which she touched and improved countless lives. In her honor, the SCWLA Foundation presents the Martha B. Dicus Award for Public Interest Law to an attorney who exemplifies Martha’s commitment and zeal in using the law to serve the most vulnerable in our communities. The Dicus Award recipient must demonstrate excellence in the practice of law, representing the poor, advancing justice and encouraging women lawyers in public interest careers.

We are now accepting nominations for the 2017 Dicus Award – nomination form here.  (A copy of this form is also available from the SCWLA website at  The deadline for the submission of nominations is August 5, 2017. 

Your nomination should include specific examples of how the nominee has used law and/or advocacy in public service or the public interest to advance justice and social change in the lives of vulnerable individuals and/or underserved communities and influenced other lawyers and particularly women lawyers to pursue public service and/or public interest careers.   In addition, the nomination should describe the nominee’s career, excellence, and service to the bar and community.  Nominations may be accompanied by letters in support of the nominee and any other documentation you believe evidences why the nominee is deserving of this distinction. 

The inaugural recipient of the Dicus Award was Sue Berkowitz, who serves as the Director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, the largest independent public interest law organization in South Carolina. At Appleseed, Sue advocates for low-income South Carolinians, focusing on health, welfare, hunger, and consumer issues.  She worked previously as a staff attorney with Palmetto Legal Services and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Sue is also a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto and the Woman of Achievement Award from the SC Commission on Women. She, like this award’s namesake, has made advocating for our most vulnerable community members her life’s work.

The 2014 Dicus Award recipient was Pamela Robinson, a founder and long-time Director of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program.  Pam is nationally recognized for her creativity in encouraging meaningful volunteer activities in law school and the community.  She is also the recipient of a SC Bar Pro Bono Program Service Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Richard County CASA Program.  Pam, like both Sue and Martha, is an outstanding example of both confidence and modesty in the area of public service.

The 2015 Dicus Award recipient was Sarah Leverette, cited as an inspiration by our first two Dicus honorees.  For years and years Sarah has has led the way as an active and outspoken advocate for women in the legal profession.  She has been a tireless advocate for voting rights through the League of Women Voters, race relations through the Community Relations Council, women in education through the American Association for University Women and Education First and for accountable government through Common Cause.  Not only has Sarah volunteered for years, she has also led these organizations and recruited many followers, as she believes in these causes with an unwavering passion.

The 2016 Dicus Award recipient was Gale DuBose, a forceful advocate for the legal needs of our state’s most vulnerable children and their families.  As the “Jobs not Jail” Project Director and Legal Coordinator of the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families, she has developed information on expungement, child support modification, and efforts to integrate fathers back into the lives of their children.  Gale has been an active participant in the S. C. Bar’s Public Services Division who has devoted countless hours to working with law students.  Like Martha Dicus, Gale has “Heart”!