March Pro Bono Update
This month the Pro Bono Program has continued its tradition of sending students out to the underserved communities in our state to provide them with free legal services. In addition, students were able to volunteer for Spring Break Projects through partnerships with attorneys and local organizations over the week that there were no classes. Students assisted with various projects, from researching offshore drilling to analyzing toxicology expert testimony in alcohol-facilitated sexual assault cases.
Also, be sure to check out the Alumni Pro Bono Opportunities Portal, where you can find a Pro Bono Project, sign up for e-mail alerts to be notified when a new project is posted, or, if you are a legal service provider, post your project in need of attorney volunteers.
If you would like any additional information about the program or the photographs you see here, please feel free to visit our website. Thank you for your continued interest in the Pro Bono Program!
Pro Bono Program Alumni Coordinator
Featuring Our Alumni
Name and Year of Graduation from UNC Law:
David Neal, UNC Law Class of 2001
Place of employment:
Previously Associate at Brooks Pierce LLP (2006-'09)
Founder & Executive Director of the Fair Trial Initiative (2000-'06)
Area of practice:
Criminal Appeals, State Capital Post-Conviction, Federal Habeas Corpus
Favorite class/professor in law school:
Prof. Jack Boger, Race & Poverty and Law and Social Change (his seminar on Reconstruction)
Pro bono experience in law school:
Prisoners' Rights Project (reviewing requests for help or information from inmates); Innocence Project; Spring Break Immigrants' Rights Project in Miami (where we helped women who were victims of domestic violence apply for legal status through VAWA and investigated complaints at a detention center for immigrants); volunteer internships with the National Immigration Project and the Philadelphia Public Defender
What inspired or prompted you to start doing pro bono work?
I went to law school in order to work with movements for social justice, so it was natural to be drawn to pro bono work.
What does your current pro bono practice look like?
Currently, my practice is focused on indigent criminal appeals and capital litigation (work that feels like pro bono practice because the hourly rate paid by Indigent Defense Services has decreased over the years due to state budget cuts). But over the last year, my true pro bono practice was representing people who were arrested and charged with second degree trespass and related charges for protesting at the General Assembly during Moral Mondays in the summer of 2013. I began assisting lawyers who worked with those arrested at the Wake County Jail and soon thereafter represented about 40 clients. Those cases were not resolved until December of 2014, when we began to consistently win our constitutional claims in district and superior court, leading to the District Attorney's decision to dismiss the remaining cases.
Spring Break Special Trips
On March 9-11, a group of students visited Boone, North Carolina, to assist with making wills for the underserved population and build client interaction skills. On March 9-10, another group of students set off for Canton, North Carolina, to staff expunction clinics in conjunction with Legal Aid of North Carolina. Students assisted with client pre-screening before these clinics, as well. Students have posted their reflections on our blog.
Boone trip (L-R): Andrew Cogdell ('85); S.J. Hightower ('14); Jay Erskine Leutze ('90); Jamie Rudd (2L, Special Trips Coordinator); Hillary Dawe (2L, Winter & Spring Break Projects Coordinator); Dean Sylvia Novinsky (Pro Bono Program Adviser)
Students working with a client during the Boone trip (L-R): Miranda Wodarski (1L); client; Dana Neely (1L)
Students hard at work on the Boone trip.
Boone trip participants enjoy a meal and networking after the day's work is finished.
(L-R) Ellenmai Korkoya (1L) and Daniel Horwitz (1L) analyze a client's expunction eligibility in Canton.
(L-R): Danielle Bernard (2L) partners with Sarah Hill Colwell ('14) in Canton.
(L-R): Hannah Abernethy (1L) confers with Kari Hamel (Legal Aid of North Carolina) in Canton.
Canton trip (L-R): Amanda Colley (3L, Alumni Outreach Coordinator); Daniel Horwitz (1L); Kyle Grusholt (1L); Mia Ragent (1L); James (Fitz) Powers (1L); Angelica Mitchell (1L); Ellenmai Korkoya (1L).