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Annual Pro Bono Awards Presented

Article Date: Friday, June 25, 2010

 Alleman  Johnson
Cynthia Alleman accepts Thorp Award from John Wester. Linda S. Johnson accepts Greenblatt Award from John Wester.

The North Carolina Bar Association, in conjunction with the NCBA Foundation’s Public Service Advisory Committee, presented the 2010 Pro Bono Service Awards on Friday, June 25, in Wilmington.

The awards were presented at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside during the President’s Luncheon of the NCBA Annual Meeting.

Cynthia Alleman of Asheville received the William L. Thorp Award, presented annually since 1984 by the NCBA. The award recognizes the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year and was named in memory of Bill Thorp, a founder of Legal Services of North Carolina, in 2002.

The 2010 recipient of the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award was Linda S. Johnson of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte office.

The Larger Law Firm Pro Bono Award was presented to Robinson Bradshaw and Hinson while the Hatcher Law Group received the Smaller Law Firm Pro Bono Award. Both firms are based in Charlotte.

The 28th Judicial District Bar of Buncombe County received the Chief Justice Award and the Wills Project at University of North Carolina School of Law received the Law Student Group Pro Bono Award.

Cynthia Alleman
Cynthia Alleman was recognized for her outstanding service and dedication to providing pro bono legal services as a private attorney. Alleman has been a member of the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers panel since 1994 helping as a hotline volunteer, financial supporter, volunteer for guardianship cases and immigration matters. She has rendered approximately 245 pro bono hours. She assists people in Buncombe and Henderson counties. Alleman is a solo practitioner in Asheville.

Linda S. Johnson
Linda S. Johnson, an unsung, tireless advocate for her clients with housing and employment related issues, received the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award. This award was named in memory of an outstanding legal services attorney, Deborah Greenblatt.

 Large Law Firm
Accepting the Large Law Firm Award from incoming President Gene Pridgen,
right, were, from left, Jennifer Hutchens, Robert Griffin, Mark Merritt, Tommy
Holderness and Kate Payerle.
 UNC Award
Accepting on behalf of UNC were, from left, Dean Jack Boger, Emily Wallwork,
incoming director of the pro bono program, Assistant Dean Sylvia Novinsky,
and outgoing program director Seema Kakad.
Johnson is employed by Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte office. For more than 15 years, her quiet dedication has helped hundreds of clients. For years, her case, Charlotte Housing Authority v. Patterson (N.C. Court of Appeals) was the authority that protected innocent victims from eviction. For more than a decade she has represented the Residents Advisory Council to the Charlotte Housing Authority. Johnson is legal services stalwart and resource for other colleagues in that community.

Robinson Bradshaw and Hinson
Robinson Bradshaw and Hinson received the Large Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of the firm’s healthy pro bono culture. In 2009, the firm provided 449 hours of pro bono service to LANC-Charlotte office, 100 more hours than the firm with the next highest pro bono hours donated.

A team of 15 attorneys donated more than 150 hours assisting 21 homeless families worked together to assist 50 homeless families who had only six months to stabilize themselves and to find housing during the winter of 2009. These endeavors highlight their dedication to pro bono services to Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, both in Charlotte.

The Hatcher Law Group
The Hatcher Law Group received the Smaller Law Firm Pro Bono Service Award for its dedication to handling domestic matters in the Charlotte area. Recently, the firm entered into a strategic partnership with Victim’s Assistance in Charlotte, committing to taking on at least one domestic violence case per week pro bono.

In 2008, the firm handled 25 domestic violence cases, providing 335 hours of pro bono assistance. In 2009, the firm dedicated more than 570 hours toward these pro bono activities. The Hatcher Law Group of Charlotte is a small law firm of eight lawyers exclusively handling domestic law matters.

28th Judicial District Bar
In 2009, leaders of the 28th Judicial District Bar (Buncombe County) issued a Recession Response challenge to the members of this bar asking them to increase pro bono participation in the areas of greatest need due to the economic downturn. As a result, pro bono hours increased by 38% (from 1708.97 in 2008 to 2356.65 in 2009) overall and the Hotline Advice program saw a 44% increase in closed cases and a 92% increase in pro bono hours (647.67 pro bono hours, 227 cases closed and 119 cases referred in 2009).

These efforts contributed to the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers Program which is a program of Pisgah Legal Services in Asheville.

UNC Law School Wills Project
More than 40 law students spent their fall and spring breaks in eastern North Carolina in conjunction with the UNC School of Law’s Wills Project. This group partnered with the UNC Center for Civil Rights and Legal Aid of North Carolina to help give landowners in eastern North Carolina the opportunity to decide how their property will be distributed. These students assisted lawyers from Legal Aid of North Carolina in the preparation of wills and advanced directives by interviewing clients, collecting information, reviewing documents and helping execute documents, all under the watchful eyes of supervising attorneys. More than 100 documents were prepared.

The Law Student Group Pro Bono Award recognizes outstanding law student group projects providing pro bono assistances to people in North Carolina. All of North Carolina's law schools are encouraged to nominate a group project.

 Hatcher  28th
Marsha Kennedy accepts award from John Wester on behalf of The Hatcher Group. Jim Barrett, left, and Heidi Stewart accept the Chief Justice Award.