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
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
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
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!
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.
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.