Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Newsletter: Friday, April 1, 2016

Letter from our Outgoing Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs

See the following from Sylvia K. Novinsky, Outgoing Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs:

The idea for the Pro Bono Program came as many great ideas do, from a random conversation back in 1997. I knew students wanted to volunteer with lawyers who needed help, and when speaking to another school’s career services professional, she suggested why not see if other organizations would be interested—just try it. After testing out the concept with a few alumni, they said sure: “If you can set this up, we’re in!” Nineteen years later, the Program has been a great success: students are participating at record rates; sites range from non-profits, District Attorney and Public Defender offices, government offices, judges, and small, medium, and large law firms. Further, unmet legal needs are being addressed by law students.

The model for the Pro Bono Board developed over the years. We started out with two volunteers, and we are now at a thirteen student board. Our Board members make this Program happen—without them this Program would simply not work. Projects would not get posted, hours would not get counted, alumni would not get recognized and included, students would not learn of projects, student organizations would not get the advice and assistance they need to make their projects even more effective, new projects would not get incubated and launched, Pro Bono trips would not happen. Students would not hear about Pro Bono from other students. And that is what sets Carolina Law apart—students spread the message: Pro Bono is for everyone! Students set the norm that Carolina Law’s Pro Bono Program is not only a way to gain practical skills but it a way to address unmet legal needs. And, as the University of North Carolina School of Law we are proud to be the leaders in the Law Student Pro Bono movement.

It has been a privilege, and an incredible professional and life changing experience, to serve as the advisor to the Pro Bono Program for the last nineteen years.

  • Legal Services Providers: I have been honored to work with legal services providers who work every day to help the poor and disenfranchised. You inspire me to always do more, because you do that every single day. Thank you for your work.
  • Pro Bono Attorneys: Thank you for taking time out of your day to share your skills to help those who cannot otherwise afford legal services. And, thank you for including our students in your work. You are teaching them how to be good lawyers.
  • Pro Bono Board Members (past, current and future): I am so grateful for the past and current members of the Pro Bono Board—your energy and commitment and desire to do more. I have learned so much from you all—technology, marketing, learning styles, opportunities to gain practical skills, how to look at problems with a different and fresh perspective, and how to set even more strategic and creative goals each year (and so much more). Your relationships have made me a better person, lawyer, leader, and administrator.

I am grateful for all I’ve learned and the people I’ve met over the last nineteen years. I will bring these lessons to serve as the first director of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, a project of Chief Justice Mark Martin’s North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. Thank you Carolina Law for all you’ve taught me. I hope to make you proud.

Highlights from the Month!

Spring Break Wills Trip 2016
Students spend their Spring Break preparing more than 160 documents for clients in need in Western North Carolina, or taking more than 900 calls at UNC through Election Protection.
Pop Up Pro Bono Spring 2016
Students and attorneys work together during Pop Up Pro Bono, an event offering students the opportunity to volunteer through one-time, short-term Pro Bono projects.

To learn more about the Pro Bono Program, including how you can be involved, email

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