The area’s largest recipients of pro bono services, Council for Children’s Rights (CFCR), Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP), hosted the second annual Pro Bono Awards Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, at the Foundation for the Carolinas to honor local attorneys and advocates who generously gave their time and expertise to local underserved children, families and individuals in legal crisis.
In the past year, approximately 570 attorneys and advocates gave more than 8,200 pro bono hours to CFCR, LANC and LSSP, serving upwards of 800 local children, families and individuals in need and donating an equivalent of nearly $2 million in legal services. The local firms, attorneys and advocates recognized and honored at the event have made considerable pro bono contributions toward the community’s access to vital legal services and transformed the lives of hundreds of area residents.
Pender R. McElroy of James, McElroy & Diehl, P.A. was the recipient of the Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award, a lifetime achievement honor recognizing an individual whose longstanding and exceptional dedication to pro bono legal service has made a meaningful impact on access to justice in the community and state.
“Being a lawyer is a calling and not just a business,” Pender said. “Lawyers are called to be an integral part of our system of justice and to serve society in that role. So called, we are obligated to be a part of providing access to legal services to every person, not just to those who can afford to pay for those services. No system can provide true justice unless all citizens have the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel.”
The Outstanding Firm Service Award, recognizing firms whose longtime partnerships and creative contributions have increased the capacities of CFCR, LANC and LSSP in serving local individuals, families and children in need, was awarded to:
- McGuireWoods LLP;
- Moore & Van Allen PLLC; and
- Hunton & Williams.
The Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, honoring attorneys who have contributed a considerable amount of pro bono hours and given local nonprofits the ability to serve more clients and initiate new projects, was awarded to:
- Henry “Chip” Howes of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP;
- Thomas E. McNeill; and
- Michael L. Martinez of Grier, Furr & Crisp, P.A.
The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award was awarded to Deborah E. Hampton, an executive assistant to the Legal Department of Bank of America who has volunteered for seven years as a custody advocate for CFCR.
This year’s Pro Bono Awards was sponsored by Presenting Sponsor Lawyers Weekly as well as Bank of America, Moore & Van Allen PLLC, Winston & Strawn LLP, Loftin & Company Printers, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Association of Corporate Counsel, and Hunton & Williams, drawing a crowd of nearly 300 attorneys, judges, advocates and community members.
Council for Children’s Rights leads the community to stand up for every child’s right to be safe, healthy and educated. The nonprofit serves over 2,500 children annually with expert legal representation and holistic advocacy. CFCR provides intervention for protection of individual rights and expert research, policy and community planning to improve the lives of all children.
Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.
Legal Services of Southern Piedmont’s mission is to assure a full measure of justice for those in need. LSSP provides a wide range of civil legal assistance to eligible low-income persons in the Charlotte metropolitan area and west-central NC.