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NCBA Pro Bono Awards

Nominate an attorney, firm or project for an NCBA Pro Bono Award

The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2024 Pro Bono Awards is Friday, February 16, 2024. This awards cycle will recognize significant pro bono contributions and efforts undertaken in 2023. Questions? Email [email protected]

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values of the North Carolina Bar Association and Foundation, and we are committed to addressing inequities in access to legal services and participation in the legal profession by historically excluded individuals and communities in our state. Our focus on equitable access and inclusion extends to recognizing the achievements of those legal professionals who identify as members of historically excluded groups. In seeking nominations for the Association’s annual Pro Bono Awards, we strongly encourage consideration of legal professionals from historically underrepresented and other marginalized groups (race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, faith, disability, neurodiversity, and military veterans).



Pro Bono Award Descriptions

Thorp Pro Bono Service Award: Presented to an NCBA member attorney who practices in North Carolina and has provided substantial legal services, in excess of the aspirational goals of Rule 6.1, with no expectation of receiving a fee, to a client or client group that could not otherwise afford legal counsel. The nominee should have engaged in the direct delivery of legal services to clients or a client group over an extended period of time and those efforts should be ongoing. Nominees must not be employed on a full-time basis by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor.

A founder of Legal Services of North Carolina, the Pro Bono Service Award was renamed in 2002 to recognize William Thorp’s service to the low-income people of North Carolina.

Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award: Presented to a lawyer who is employed full time by a legal services program in North Carolina and who has made an exemplary contribution to the provision of legal assistance to help meet the needs of the poverty population in North Carolina.

Deborah Greenblatt served as the executive director of Carolina Legal Assistance for more than two decades, where she persevered as a champion for the rights of individuals and children with disabilities despite challenging political and judicial setbacks.

Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award: Presented by the NCBA Young Lawyers Division to an NCBA Young Lawyers Division member who has made extraordinary contributions by providing exemplary legal services without a fee and increased access to justice on behalf of persons of limited means and/or charitable groups or organizations. Nominees must not be employed on a full-time basis by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor.

Law Firm Pro Bono Award: The Law Firm Pro Bono Award recognizes law firms for their commitment to pro bono service through the contribution of pro bono hours, the percentage of billable hours devoted to pro bono work, the number and percentage of firm attorneys providing pro bono legal service, the firm’s creative approach to pro bono engagement, the consistency and sincerity of its pro bono program and the presence of a law firm culture that is grounded in the observance of Rule 6.1 (Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Outstanding Collaborative/Group Pro Bono Service Award: Presented to a group of law firms or attorneys, or a local, district, statewide bar organization whose members have engaged in significant and notable legal services or have contributed outstanding support and assistance to the maintenance of pro bono legal services for low-income individuals. This award recognizes creativity in the provision of pro bono legal services as well as innovative approaches to engage and encourage North Carolina attorneys to participate in pro bono legal service. Honorees will have demonstrated a commitment to pro bono service by engaging a group of attorneys in a cooperative pro bono effort that has deep impact on the lives of low-income North Carolinians.

Law School Pro Bono Service Award: 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.

Outstanding Paralegal Pro Bono Service Award: The Outstanding Paralegal Pro Bono Service Award is presented to an outstanding NCBA Paralegal Division member who has volunteered a substantial amount of time in pro bono legal service to increase access to justice on behalf of persons of limited means and/or charitable groups or organizations. Pro bono service must have been completed under the direct supervision of an attorney licensed in the State of North Carolina in accordance with Rule 6.1. Nominees must have worked as a paralegal in a part-time, full-time, or freelance capacity in the year they are nominated for the award or be a retired paralegal who continues to give back to the community through pro bono service.

The Filling the Justice Gap Award: Presented to an attorney, law firm, or organization making innovative strides with providing legal services to close the legal services gap in North Carolina. The legal services gap exists when clients of limited means do not qualify for free civil legal services/representation in matters affecting their basic needs by a legal services provider and cannot afford to retain an attorney. The nominee shall have demonstrated how their innovative approach has helped close this legal services gap for these clients of limited means.