Article Date: Friday, June 24, 2011
Written By: Russell Rawlings
The North Carolina Bar Association, in conjunction with the NCBA Foundation’s Public Service Advisory Committee, presented the 2011 Pro Bono Service Awards on Friday, June 24, at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Asheville.
Robert Hahn of Charlotte received the William L. Thorp Award, presented annually since 1984 by the NCBA. The award recognizes the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year and was named in memory of Bill Thorp, a founder of Legal Services of North Carolina, in 2002.
The 2011 recipient of the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award was Lewis Pitts of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Greensboro office. Since 2006, this award has been presented in memory of the longtime executive director of Carolina Legal Assistance.
The Larger Law Firm Pro Bono Award recipient was Hunton & Williams, LLP, while Broker & Hamrick, P.A., received the Smaller Law Firm Pro Bono Award.
The Johnston County Bar Association received the Chief Justice Award and the Driver’s License Restoration Project of the North Carolina Central University and University of North Carolina Schools of Law received the Law Student Group Pro Bono Award.
The Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award, presented annually by the Young Lawyers Division, was presented to R. Michael Wells Jr. of Winston-Salem at the annual meeting of the YLD on Saturday, June 25.
Read further for additional information on each award and honoree.
William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award
Robert Hahn was nominated by Legal Services of Southern Piedmont for “contributing an extraordinary amount of pro bono service to obtain Medicaid, Social Security Disability and other benefits that had been denied for indigent clients.” In 2010, the nomination continues, Hahn provided nearly 300 hours of pro bono service and closed 12 cases. One case required over 60 pro bono service. In another case, he obtained SSI benefits for a three-year-old girl with autism spectrum disorder and impaired sensory awareness.Hahn practices with Hunton & Williams.
Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award
Lewis Pitts practices in the Greensboro office of Legal Aid of North Carolina and serves as the senior managing attorney of Advocates for Children’s Services, a statewide project of LANC. He was nominated by fellow Legal Aid attorney Keith Howard of Durham.
Pitts has served as a public interest attorney for 38 years and founded ACS in 2000. He represents children in matters involving school discipline, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act, children’s Medicaid entitlements, abuse, neglect and dependency. Among his many other public service activities, Pitts is past chair of the NCBA’s Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section.
Larger Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award
The efforts of Robert Hahn and his Hunton & Williams colleagues are also denoted in their nomination for the Larger Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award submitted by Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and supported by Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte.
“Pro bono work is an established part of the culture at Hunton & Williams,” the nomination states, “and the firm has a long history of providing outstanding service and support to both agencies in multiple practice areas. In 2010, Hunton & Williams contributed nearly 450 hours of pro bono service to LSSP and LANC; the number of hours excludes the administrative and mentoring time firm coordinators give to support their projects.”
The nomination also recognized the noteworthy efforts of pro bono coordinator Megan Miller, Wendy Spanbauer and James D. Humphries IV.
Smaller Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award
Broker and Hamrick of Asheville was nominated for the Smaller Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award by Pisgah Legal Services for outstanding pro bono service rendered through the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program. Partners Leah Broker and Anna Hamrick assist clients seeking Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and Workers’ Compensation benefits. Combined they have contributed 33 years of service to MAVL and 470 pro bono hours.
“Amazingly enough,” the nomination states, “the quantifiable benefit of the firm’s pro bono work only between January 2007 and February 2010 has been an incredible $7,369,700!”
Chief Justice Award
The Johnston County Bar Association was nominated for the Chief Justice Award by Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Smithfield office. Over 10 percent of the bar association’s 128 members participate regularly in the Volunteer Lawyers Program administered by the Smithfield office of LANC. In 2010, the Johnston County Bar Association provided more than 140 hours of pro bono service to the poor and indigent in Johnston County through the VLP, and contributed countless other pro bono hours assisting other agencies that assist the underrepresented. JCBA members participate annually in the NCBA’s 4ALL Statewide Service Day and host their own Ask-A-Lawyer Day in Johnston County.
Law Student Group Pro Bono Award
The Driver’s License Restoration Project of the North Carolina Central University School of Law and the University of North Carolina School of Law was nominated for the Law Student Group Pro Bono Award by Page Potter of the NCCU School of Law. The unique project involves students from both law schools and pro bono attorneys. Its goal is to assist indigent North Carolinians in reinstating their driver’s licenses following revocation. Students involved in the project attend training sessions, publicize their services through courthouse fliers and social media, and work with volunteer attorneys to help clients restore their driving privileges.
2011 Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award
R. Michael Wells Jr. has been selected in part because of his efforts with Project Grace, a YLD initiative that provides health care power of attorneys and living wills free of charge to underprivileged North Carolinians with an emphasis on fixed income senior citizens. Wells has also undertaken a number of leadership roles within the bar and with community organizations in the Winston-Salem area, including United Way and the Parks and Recreation Department where he serves as a commissioner. He has also been actively involved in the American Bar Association where he serves as the ABA YLD District 9 representative for 2010-12.
|The NCCU and UNC Schools of Law captured the Law Student Group Pro Bono Award.
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