The North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) is proud to announce the induction of 552 attorneys into the 2022 North Carolina Attorney Pro Bono Honor Society. Society members reported providing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2022 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 Paul Newby called on North Carolina attorneys to report their pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center.
“On the heels of a global pandemic, North Carolina has seen an increase in pro bono clinics held in-person, as well as attorneys continuing to volunteer remotely for a multitude of pro bono opportunities. It is evident North Carolina attorneys remain committed to providing pro bono legal services to ensure that our courts remain open and accessible, and justice is administered without “favor, denial, or delay” as mandated by our state’s Constitution. The Supreme Court of North Carolina looks forward to celebrating North Carolina attorneys in their pursuit of equal justice for all through their legal volunteerism,” Newby said in his message to the state’s attorneys and paralegals.
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 more than 60,200 hours of pro bono legal services in 2022 to North Carolinians living in poverty. A total of 1,496 attorneys reported their hours either individually or through one of 26 firms that reported hours on behalf of their attorneys. The total number of hours reported by all attorneys was just over 71,500.
More About PBRC
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.
In 2022, the PBRC again collected information about paralegal volunteerism. More than 100 paralegals reported their pro bono hours, with 27 paralegals reporting more than 50 hours of pro bono legal services in 2022, leading to recognition by the PBRC through the North Carolina Paralegal Pro Bono Honor Society. The total number of hours reported by nearly 130 paralegals was over 3,800, and over 2,800 of those hours were reported by the 27 Paralegal Pro Bono Honor Society inductees. A total of 15 firms batch reported their paralegals’ pro bono hours.
For the first time, the PBRC also collected information about the judicial districts in which reporting attorneys practice, as well as in which counties paralegals work. Of the 1,166 attorneys who reported a judicial district, nearly 54% practiced in the 26th Judicial District (Mecklenburg County). The next highest percentage was 17% from the 10th Judicial District (Wake County), followed by 7% from the 18th Judicial District (Guilford County). Of the 90 paralegals who provided county information, 33% work in Mecklenburg County, followed by 19% from Wake County, as well as Forsyth and Guilford Counties, each at 12%.
“Thank you to N.C. attorneys and paralegals who volunteered to share their time and skills to help address unmet legal needs. You play an integral role in addressing the access to justice gap,” said PBRC Director Sylvia Novinsky.
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 volunteer skills that lawyers and paralegals offer to those who cannot afford legal services.