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Law School Pro Bono Service Award: “Better Together” Duke University School of Law, NC Central School of Law, and UNC School of Law

Presented to an outstanding law student group whose pro bono project advanced access to justice in North Carolina. Consideration will be given to law school groups or projects engaging two or more North Carolina law school students who are not receiving law school academic credit for their work and who have provided assistance to low-income people in North Carolina.

Launched in 2022, “Better Together” is a partnership among Duke Law, NC Central Law, and UNC Law School students to provide criminal-record expunctions to Durham residents. “Better Together” fosters connections among service-oriented students to provide high-impact criminal record expunction work.

Expunction is a critically important service in Durham, where thousands of residents have criminal records. Such records create serious roadblocks to securing and maintaining safe and affordable housing, and stable and sustaining employment. While those with means can afford to hire private attorneys, low-income residents with criminal records—who, because of systemic racism, are disproportionately Black and Hispanic—must rely on the help of public-interest organizations to secure a clean slate.
Through the project, students review client records and draft expunction petitions under the supervision of Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program attorneys.