Attorney Corey V. Parton was inducted into North Carolina's Pro Bono Honor Society last week in recognition his commitment to providing legal service to the community unable to pay for quality representation. Society members reported providing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services to clients unable to pay without expectation of a fee, an aspirational threshold set by Rule 6.1 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.
Chief Justice Mark Martin, chair of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, recently stressed that the ideal of equal justice under law is one of the ultimate goals of our legal system.
"One integral way that we as North Carolina lawyers move closer to this ideal is through providing pro bono legal services to the citizens of our state who are unable to afford private representation," said Chief Justice Martin.
Rule 6.1 encourages a variety of activities in addition to the pro bono legal services recognized by the Honor Society. Other encouraged activities include providing legal services at a substantially reduced fee; engaging in activities that improve the law, the legal system, or the legal profession; participating in non-legal community service; and contributing financially to North Carolina legal aid organizations. The reporting process, administered by the PBRC, collected basic information about all of these activities.
The PBRC, led by Sylvia Novinsky, launched in April 2016 and began collecting responses from attorneys about pro bono involvement through the state's first voluntary reporting process in January 2017. The PBRC, a program of the N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission, works to increase North Carolina attorney pro bono legal service as a way to meet the legal needs of people of low-income and modest means in our state.
According to Novinsky, "Pro bono legal service is a crucial way that attorneys can help ensure justice for all in our state. Recognizing this outstanding work through the N.C. Pro Bono Honor Society allows us to celebrate the importance of attorney volunteerism and encourage others in our profession to get involved."
Each member of this year's cohort of the Honor Society receives a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina in recognition of their valuable contributions to the people of North Carolina. This group of attorneys provided more than 35,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2017 to North Carolinians living in poverty. All 877 attorneys who shared information about their pro bono volunteerism together provided nearly 50,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2017.