The UNC Cancer Pro Bono Project received the 2014 Law Student Group Pro Bono Award from the North Carolina Bar Association at the organization’s annual meeting in June. The program, open to current and former oncology patients and their family members, is managed through UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Since the program’s inception in February 2013, dozens of student volunteers have been trained in the law of advanced directives, and in sensitivity issues and legal ethics. Students, supervised by volunteer lawyers, talk at the cancer center with patients and their families about financial and health care powers of attorney and living wills. Patients complete the required forms, which are notarized on site, and leave with legal documents. Students prepare about 30 documents a month.
“We hope this project assists patients’ mental outlook in fighting cancer. The process of preparing these documents enables the patient to think about and decide some of these difficult issues in advance. This is helpful not only for themselves but also for their families,” says Sylvia Novinsky, UNC School of Law's assistant dean for public service programs.
The cancer center benefits, too. “We now have a relationship established with Lineberger that we didn’t have before. And I think they’re really pleased to have this service provided,” Novinsky says.