The North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) is proud to announce the induction of 520 attorneys into the 2019 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society. Society members reported providing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2019 to clients unable to pay without expectation of a fee, an aspirational threshold set by Rule 6.1 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley called on North Carolina attorneys to report their pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center.
“The provision of free legal services to those who cannot afford representation is not only encouraged by Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1, it is an affirmation of the highest ideals of our noble profession,” Beasley said in her message to the state’s attorneys.
Each member of this year's cohort of the Honor Society receives a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina in recognition of their valuable contributions to the people of North Carolina. This group of attorneys provided nearly 40,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2019 to North Carolinians living in poverty. In all, 1,703 attorneys, or almost 6% of active attorneys in North Carolina, shared information about their pro bono volunteerism, together providing close to 50,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2019.
The PBRC launched in April 2016 and began collecting responses from attorneys about pro bono involvement through the state's first voluntary reporting process in January 2017. A program of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, the PBRC works to increase North Carolina attorneys’ pro bono legal service as a way to meet the legal needs of people of low-income and modest means in our state.
“Pro bono lawyers are a crucial resource for those North Carolinians who cannot afford legal services,” said PBRC Director Sylvia Novinsky. “I am inspired by the volunteer spirit of the North Carolina bar highlighted by pro bono reporting. The growing list of attorneys recognized by the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society serves as a symbol to other attorneys that finding time to volunteer is doable.”
Rule 6.1 encourages a variety of activities in addition to the pro bono legal services recognized by the Honor Society. Other encouraged activities include providing legal services at a substantially reduced fee; engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession; participating in non-legal community service; and contributing financially to North Carolina legal aid organizations. The reporting process, administered by the PBRC, collected basic information about all of these activities. The Honor Society celebrates the unique volunteerism that only lawyers can give.