Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter

Pro Bono Program Alumni Newsletter: Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to the Pro Bono Alumni Newsletter!

Greetings!

I'm Hilary Blackwood '12, and I'm the Alumni Coordinator on the Pro Bono Board at Carolina Law. You have received this email because you showed interest in pro bono service while you were in law school at UNC, and we thought you would be interested in reconnecting with what's going on with the Pro Bono Program now. I will send you an email only once a month with an update about what we're doing and how you can get involved. Please feel free to email me at probonoalumni@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

In This Issue

  • Alumni News You Can Use: Meet Mark Dorosin '94
  • The Gift that Keeps on Giving
  • Student of the Month
  • Wills, Wills, Wills
  • Election Protection
  • Winter Break Sign Ups
  • Discover the many ways you can support pro bono at Carolina Law!

Alumni News You Can Use

  • The 3Ls aren't losing steam: they're at 68% pro bono participation.
  • Big congrats to the 2L class with 77% participation, a number that forever seems to be on the rise.
  • The ILs are a bright bunch and have quickly picked up on the Carolina Law passion for pro bono. With 918 hours already completed in the first semester, the ILs already have 23% participation. This number is guaranteed to sky rocket in January, as over 100 ILs are signed up to complete a pro bono project over winter break.

Meet the First Alumni All-Star: The One, the Only ... Mark Dorosin '94

My name is Mark Dorosin and I am the Senior Managing Attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights. I am inspired every day by the extraordinary courage and vision of the social justice and civil rights advocates whose dedication and sacrifice helped transform our country to fulfill its promise of equality and justice, by the opportunity to play some role in that ongoing struggle, and by the energy, vision, and sacrifice of others continuing the fight against exclusion, prejudice, and discrimination.

I went to law school with the intent of becoming a civil rights lawyer. I believed (and still believe) that one effective way of addressing the institutionalized inequality of our nation's discriminatory history was to develop the skills and abilities to help individuals and communities use the legal system to protect and expand their rights and enhance their power. And although the work is often difficult, slow, and challenging, the struggle and the engagement are vital and, in some ways, a victory themselves.

One goal of the Center for Civil Rights--and of me personally--is to help train the next generation of civil rights lawyers. Working with the pro bono program and with UNC students keeps me connected to the fulfillment of that goal. Interacting with engaged and enthusiastic students is an ongoing and encouraging reminder of the impact more experienced lawyers can have not only on the development of skills for young lawyers, but also on the development of the profession and its potential for meaningful social justice advocacy. I appreciate the opportunity to nurture those students with a nascent interest in civil rights, but I equally value the opportunity to help all students understand how lawyers and the law works (or doesn't work), and how difficult and meaningful this work can be. I am also repeatedly impressed and re-energized by the students' dedication, enthusiasm, and passion for pro bono and public interest.

In 1905, Louis Brandeis said that the country needed lawyers who would look toward the greater good, and "act as statesmen rather than mercenaries...Those of you who feel drawn to that [the legal] profession may rest assured that you will find in it an opportunity for usefulness which is probably unequalled. There is a call upon the legal profession to do a great work for this country."

In 2002, Spiderman (that other great legal scholar) said, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Growing socio-economic disparities in our society make it even more critical that lawyers undertake the "great work" and the "great responsibility" to provide meaningful access and advocacy for those who, because of lack of resources, isolation, mistrust, or social stigma, are alienated from the legal system and unable to adequately protect their rights.

One day, I was in the Raleigh trying to convince some conservative legislator to support a bill on behalf of one of our client communities. The representative was clearly uncomfortable with us being there and called the even more conservative local state senator and asked him to join the meeting. He explained over the phone that there were some civil rights lawyers in his office asking questions about this bill. When the senator arrived, before we were even introduced, he raised his hands for emphasis and said, "First of all, I want you to know--I love civil rights."

I make it a point to remind myself at least once a day--I love civil rights.


Alumni All-Stars : The Pro Bono Program seeks to recognize outstanding alumni--those who consistently take the time to submit projects and work with our students. The Alumni All-Stars are those power players, our go-to guys and gals, who we can always count on for support. If you know someone who deserves to receive this recognition, please e-mail probonoalumni@gmail.com.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

As we prepare to head out on our annual trip to New Orleans, we are making a final fundraiser push. We are reaching out to you, alums, in hopes that you will buy a Pro Bono T-shirt or two, as the cost of this incredibly meaningful trip is increasingly expensive-not to mention, who couldn't use another fun tee?

We have two styles of shirts: the fun and youthful "Pro Bono Attorneys Do it for Free" (black long sleeve for $15, gray short sleeve for $12) and the slightly more conservative "Students and Lawyers Making a Difference" (white short sleeve for $10). Our very own Special Trips Coordinator, Daniel Mangual, has been working deals for the students and would like to extend the offer to you. If you order now, you can be a proud owner of all three shirts for just $35 or two short-sleeve shirts for $20.

To order now by accessing the form. Please make your checks payable to "UNC Law" with "Pro Bono Discretionary Fund" in the memo line. Mail the check and order form to UNC School of Law, c/o Dean Sylvia Novinsky, 160 Ridge Road CB# 3380, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.

Student of the Month

1L Christopher Heaney is a testament to the outstanding class of 2013. In his first semester of law school, Christopher has completed an astounding 45 pro bono hours. When asked why he loves to spend his free time doing pro bono, he tells us that he " wanted to see what lawyers do in the real world and thought volunteering would be a good way to do that." The meaningful work completed by Christopher includes writing wills and end of life documents for individuals who otherwise could not afford to do so through the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, conducting a "Know Your Rights" presentation to inform immigrants of their rights in cases where they are incarcerated or threatened with deportation, and staffing a walk-in legal clinic with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services for people who have previously been incarcerated.

1L Christopher Heaney

Wills, Wills, Wills

Over Fall Break, the UNC Law Pro Bono Program partnered with Legal Aid-Pittsboro and the Center for Civil Rights to send twenty students to Richmond and Moore counties. Over the course of two days, the students served 41 clients and drafted 122 advance directives.

3L Daniel Mangual Works Through the Details

Drafting the advance directives was only one of the many steps in the process. Over 40 students applied for the trip and were chosen based on essays they wrote expressing their interest in the work. Those students chosen to attend were then trained in writing wills, powers of attorney, and living wills. They also practiced client interviewing and learned about the importance of cross-cultural lawyering. To make this trip a success for clients and students, Special Trips Coordinators Bethan Eynon and Daniel Mangual did major outreach by traveling to clinic sites and making presentations at town council and community meetings. Legal Aid recruited estate planning attorneys from the private sector to answer questions and review student drafts. With the help of these volunteer attorneys, UNC students were able to efficiently and knowledgeably assist clients and combat issues of land loss in rural North Carolina.

1L Elizabeth Hill reflected on her experience, writing:

"When my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. yesterday morning, I found myself wondering, 'What was I thinking when I signed up for this trip?' By the time I was finished with my first client, I had my answer. By the time I was finished helping my second client, I honestly did not want to leave the project site. The Pro Bono fall break project has served as an awesome reminder of why I chose to come to law school in the first place: to help people in their times of need by providing them with necessary legal services. I am shocked that two months into 1L year, I have attained skills that actually allowed me to help needy individuals in rural North Carolina.

Most of us at UNC Law wrote awesome personal statements when we applied to law school about how we were going to save the world, but within the first week of classes, we were buried in Pennoyer v. Neff, Bluebook citations, and Bar Reviews. Our dreams of making a difference were bogged down with learning how to deal with the day-to-day struggles of 1L year. This weekend, I realized that the crazy cases we learn about in Property are more than just historical dilemmas with no modern effect. Joint tenancies, tenancies in common, life estates (and all the rest of the terrifying terms we are beginning to conquer) became more than just words this weekend: they came alive through kind eyes, smiling faces, and personal stories. The seemingly unimportant terminology of Property class became tragic stories of land loss through intestate succession and beautiful stories of family unity being preserved through joint tenancies. Last week, these words meant nothing to me; now, they will never leave me. They are imprinted in my mind, not through my Property casebook or Professor Orth's stellar suits, but rather as part of the story of two amazing individuals who changed my life this weekend more than I changed theirs."

Election Protection

On November 2, the Pro Bono Program partnered with the UNC Center for Civil Rights to host the North Carolina Call Center for the Lawyer's Committee's National Election Protection Hotline. The UNC Career Services Office was temporarily transformed into a nonpartisan civil rights firm as over 50 students manned five phone lines from 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. Students were trained in election law and answered nearly 250 voter questions over the course of the day. Students from every year enjoyed the experience and the challenge of answering a wide array of questions, including confusion over changed addresses, military absentee voting, and identification. The Pro Bono Program was especially pleased to welcome back many of the 3L students whose first pro bono experience was working at the same call center during the 2008 election. We even received some press- a reporter from The American Independent was on-hand to observe and interviewed several student volunteers.

3L Molly Maynard Prepares for Calls

We are especially grateful to our supervising attorneys, who were invaluable in answering student and voter questions and reporting concerns to the Board of Elections. Special thanks to Yolanda McGill, Carrie Hartley, Bob Hall, Peter Gilbert '08, Elizabeth Haddix '98, Mark Dorosin '94, and Taiyyaba Qureshi '10. Furthermore, the Center for Civil Rights is working with a student over Winter Break to publish an analysis of voter issues in North Carolina.

Election Protection Attorneys: Problem Solving

Winter Break Sign Ups

UNC Law's storied tradition of Winter Break Pro Bono was in full force bright and early on Tuesday, November 16th, but the preparation was a long time in the making. Winter Break Project Coordinators Lauren Cranford and Raina Haque began solicitation efforts in early September to connect attorneys far and wide with UNC students for meaningful pro bono experiences during December and January. This year's projects included work in areas of law ranging from immigration to animal law, for entities such as private firms, non-profits, and Legal Aid. Because of the overwhelming student demand, Lauren and Raina extended their deadline for attorney submissions and were rewarded with opportunities for 123 eager students.

Students Wait in the Hall for Project Distribution to Begin

As usual, Winter Break sign-ups were an event to remember, as students lined up down the law school's fourth floor hallway to snag pro bono projects of their choice, some arriving as early as 2:45 a.m. and one student sleeping over the night before. The first projects to go were with a major New York firm to 1Ls Bill Green and Christina Cress. Green said that he stayed overnight because "it was just easier not to sleep than to wake up early." Cress, number two in line, showed up around 2:45 a.m, to snag the second coveted project with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, because she wants a taste of commercial litigation at its best. Because of the varied student interest and diversified project offerings, even those students who arrived late (around 6 a.m. mind you) still got their first or second choices.

Number One, Two, and Three in Line

As a new component to this year's process, the Coordinators established a system to allow students to learn real-time which projects had been chosen and update their priority rankings accordingly. While Lauren confirmed students' willingness to commit to the projects' listed hours and locations, Raina announced each selection down the line. Students signed contracts to mark their commitments, and finished off their morning with breakfast purchased from students raising money for the annual pro bono New Orleans trip. Lauren considers this year's event to be a success, and looks forward to following up with students during and after their projects. She said, "I hope our process can be used as a model in the future, with room for improvements as each class makes Winter Break sign-ups their own."

Happy Board Members
3L Raina Haque and the Board

How You Can Support Pro Bono at UNC Law

The Pro Bono Program has come so far in a few short years, but we need your support to continue our mission. There are two general ways that you can support the pro bono program at Carolina Law:

Submit a project: Law students can help you with everything from research and writing to interviewing clients. When you submit a project, you can specify if you prefer a 2L or 3L to work, the time commitment, any specific skills required, etc. You can even submit a project online. Students can do projects both during the school year and over winter and spring breaks. If you have any questions, please email Lauren Felter, the Attorney Projects Coordinator, at uncprobonoprojects@gmail.com or consult our FAQ webpage.

Provide financial support: Finally, your financial support is incredibly beneficial to us. The support of our donors helps us continue to allow students to come on pro bono trips at a very low cost to themselves, thus helping ensure that personal finance is no barrier to doing pro bono work. You can donate online (please select "Pro Bono Program").


Please consider supporting the Pro Bono Program in any way that you can, and please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions.  Happy Holidays from the Pro Bono Board.

Go Heels,

Hilary

Hilary Blackwood
Alumni Coordinator
UNC Law Pro Bono Program
Students and Lawyers Making a Difference
http://www.law.unc.edu/studentlife/probono/