Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Newsletter: Wednesday, May 28, 2014


This spring has been a busy time for the Pro Bono Program, and we are excited to give you an update on our semester. UNC Law students have been busy this semester serving the North Carolina community and beyond. Whether they participated in a Special Trip over winter or spring break, worked on a project with a local attorney, or participated in the many Pro Bono Week activities, our students are committed to helping others through pro bono service. UNC Law alumni have been active participants in the Pro Bono Program as well, participating in an alumni panel for our students, informing graduating 3Ls about pro bono practice after law school, and further defining their work as the Pro Bono Alumni Board.

If you would like any additional information about our program or the photographs you see here, please feel free to visit our website. Thank you for your continued support and interest in the Pro Bono Program. We look forward to connecting with each of you soon and as always we would love to hear from you with comments, updates, or just to say hello!


Kelly Anderson
Pro Bono Program Alumni Coordinator, 2013-2014

Announcing Our Award Winners

Congratulations to our 2014 Pro Bono Publico Award Winners. Winners were recognized during a reception at the law school on April 9, 2014.

Pro Bono Public Winners 2013-14
L-R: Evan Benz (2L Student of the Year); Charlotte Stewart (Graduating Student of the Year); Amelia Serrat and Erin Gibbs (representing DVAP as Student Group of the Year); Laura Ackerman (3L Student of the Year); Corey Frost (2L Student of the Year)
*Not Pictured: Beth Posner (Faculty Member of the Year); Tom Berkau (Alumnus of the Year)

And, the Final Results are...


Tom Berkau
Tom Berkau, 2014 Pro Bono Alumnus of the Year

Tom Berkau is a valued and respected member of the North Carolina pro bono legal community. Since the beginning of his 40-year career, Mr. Berkau has served his community as a small town lawyer and consistently represented Johnston and Harnett county residents on a pro bono basis in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and the local bar association. Mr. Berkau has donated thousands of hours of his time to pro bono clients since he was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1974 and began practicing in Smithfield, North Carolina. Mr. Berkau has successfully litigated individual pro bono cases on countless occasions and frequently serves as co-counsel, mentoring Legal Aid and volunteer attorneys in his community. He frequently works to recruit new volunteer attorneys and has been instrumental in the Johnston County Bar's annual "Ask A Lawyer" event. Mr. Berkau also performs all title work and closings pro bono for Habitat for Humanity of Johnston County. His dedication and access to justice is evident in his personal commitment to pro bono and desire to lead efforts in his community and state to ensure the effective delivery of legal services to those in need. Congratulations Mr. Berkau, and thank you for your continued commitment to pro bono service.

Pro Bono Trips: Experiencing Our Education

UNC Law students enjoyed the chance to give back to communities across the state during Winter and Spring Breaks this year. Over Winter Break, 22 UNC Law students and faculty traveled to Cherokee, North Carolina to host a free civil legal clinic for members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Asheville to host a Health Care Navigator Clinic. At the civil legal clinic, students, partnering with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Sylva office, served approximately 15 clients on issues ranging from emergency custody orders, to wills, to divorces. In Asheville, the group, partnering with Pisgah Legal Services, worked with approximately 20 individuals and couples in the process of signing up for healthcare. In total, students participating on the trip contributed 912 total hours of pro bono service to these communities.

UNC Law Students at the Cherokee courthouse.
UNC Law Students at the Cherokee courthouse.

Over Spring Break, UNC Law students participated in pro bono clinics in Boone and Wilmington. In Boone, students held legal clinics over three days, drafting wills and advance directives for low-income clients. In Wilmington, students worked on a new project in conjunction with Legal Aid of North Carolina and the North Carolina Justice Center. These students facilitated a mobile clinic to determine expunction eligibility for local impoverished people and helped eligible clients begin the expunction process by filling out petitions for relief.

UNC Law Students in Wilmington, NC.
UNC Law Students in Wilmington, NC.
UNC Law students in Wilmington, NC
UNC Law students in Wilmington, NC.
UNC Law students in Boone, NC.
UNC Law students in Boone, NC.

Pro Bono Week

This spring, the Pro Bono Program hosted our annual Pro Bono Week. Pro Bono Week is a chance for the Pro Bono Program to thank students for their commitment to pro bono service. In addition to a week of activities, this year's Pro Bono Week featured two days of alumni interaction between UNC Law students, members of the Pro Bono Alumni Board, and various other participating alumni. On Thursday, February 6, UNC Law alumni served on a panel during lunch and spoke to students about using their pro bono work as they seek employment opportunities. On Friday, February 7, Pro Bono Alumni Board members held "office hours" across the law school, meeting with one-on-one with students to discuss pro bono work in the legal field, how to highlight pro bono experience in job interviews, and various other topics that students wished to discuss.

Students attend a panel of Pro Bono Alumni Board members during Pro Bono Week
Students attended an alumni panel during Pro Bono Week. L-R: Bethan Eynon; Chris Brook; Sherry Everett; Orla O'Hannaidh; Joey Polonsky (3L).

Pro Bono Alumni Board

Thank you to this year's Pro Bono Alumni Board! Seventeen alumni made up the 2013-2014 Pro Bono Alumni Board, chaired by Jennifer Simmons and Allison Standard. We are thrilled to announce that Allison Standard will stay on as chair for the 2014-2015 year, and will be joined by vice-chair Seema Jain. Thank you to all of our Pro Bono Alumni Board Members for your hard work and dedication to UNC Law students and the Pro Bono Program!

Pro Bono Alumni Board members socialize with student Pro Bono Board members.
Pro Bono Alumni Board members socialize with student Pro Bono Board members. L-R: Munashe Magarira (3L), Jennifer Simmons, Alexis Chappell, Adam Parker, Jared Smith (1L).

Introducing the New Pro Bono Board

Congratulations to the members of the Pro Bono Board for the 2014-2015 School Year.

Pro Bono Board 2014-2015
Back Row L-R: Jared Smith (Public Relations Coordinator); Gabriel Kussin (New Projects Development Coordinator); Samuel Williams (Attorney Projects Coordinator)
Middle Row L-R: Jamie Rudd (Special Trips Co-Coordinator); Kathleen Lockwood (Director); Caitlin Bernstein (3L Class Coordinator); Hillary Dawe (Winter Break/Spring Break Trips Coordinator)
Front Row L-R: Dean Sylvia Novinsky (Program Advisor); Madison Waller (Special Trips Co-Coordinator); Molly Simpson (2L Class Coordinator); Amanda Colley (Alumni Outreach Coordinator); Nicole Daniels (Group Projects Coordinator)

Thank You to the 2013-2014 Pro Bono Board

Thank you to the members of the 2013-2014 Pro Bono Board. We will miss you next year and wish you luck in all of your future endeavors.

Pro Bono Board 2013-2014
Pro Bono Board 2013-2014
Back Row L-R: Gabriel Kussin (2L Class Coordinator); James Jolley (Director); Joey Polonsky (3L Class Coordinator); Samuel Williams (Special Trips Co-Coordinator)
Middle Row L-R: Munashe Magarira (New Projects Development Coordinator); Jared Smith (1L Class Coordinator); Belal Elrahal (Attorney Projects Coordinator); Kathleen Lockwood (Special Trips Co-Coordinator)
Front Row L-R: Dean Sylvia Novinsky (Program Advisor); Kelly Anderson (Alumni Outreach Coordinator); Sarah Colwell (Group Projects Coordinator); Caitlin Bernstein (Public Relations Coordinator); Ramona McGee (Winter Break/Spring Break Projects Coordinator)

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

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