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Pro Bono Program Project Earns Engaged Scholarship Award

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UNC School of Law's Pro Bono Program is slated to receive a 2010 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for the Wills Project, a spring break and fall break program giving law students the opportunity to assist in drafting wills for low-income residents of rural North Carolina. The project was developed in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. The award is granted by the Carolina Center for Public Service and the Office of the Provost.

"This is absolutely wonderful news and a well-deserved award," says Jack Boger '74, dean and Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law. "We have all been very proud of the wills project, and it's an honor to have the Office of the Provost underscore the public service and engaged scholarship rendered by our students to people all over North Carolina. Their work is in the finest traditions of Carolina Law -- the sort of service that we've hoped to instill in all of our graduates."

The Wills Project began with 20 students who dedicated their 2009 spring break to drafting wills and powers of attorney for low-income residents in rural eastern North Carolina. The UNC students worked with attorneys from Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Center for Civil Rights to serve approximately 40 clients, working on wills, preparing for a court hearing in a housing case and providing direct assistance to clients.

The first trip was developed by a team of first- and second-year law students with the help of Sylvia Novinsky, assistant dean for public service programs, and Mark Dorosin, senior attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Funding came from alumni, donors and students to pay for gas, food and lodging over the four-day project period.

Students have continued the project, spending fall break 2009 and spring break 2010 donating time in the same spirit and capacity, and will continue these trips over each semester break. The project has expanded to Moore County and to the western part of the state.  

The award will be presented on Fri., April 16, 2010, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2010 Public Service Awards Ceremony and Reception.

-April 12, 2010

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