Pro Bono Spotlight: McGuireWoods and Wells Fargo Wills for Warriors Project

By Kaitlyn Fudge

Home to Fort Liberty and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina has more veterans than most states. For the last five years, McGuireWoods, Wells Fargo, and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (CCLA) have teamed up to serve this community through an estate planning pro bono clinic called “Wills for Warriors.”

The annual clinic, which takes place around Veterans Day, is a one-stop shop where veterans meet attorney and legal professional volunteers from McGuireWoods and Wells Fargo to discuss their goals and leave with needed estate planning documents such as wills, power of attorney forms, and health care power of attorney forms.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Martin Warf

Martin, a white man with grey hair, wears brown glasses, a white shirt, a beige and red dotted tie, and a brown suit.

Martin Warf

By Sidney Thomas

“There are a few reasons I commit to pro bono work. First, it can be a nice shift from the normal concerns over disputes about money. Second, if I can find a project that helps me grow my skills or better my understanding on a section of law, then it’s the best type of CLE. Third, it feels natural to me to do it.” Martin is a dedicated volunteer attorney, who enjoys volunteering his legal expertise and taking on challenging legal projects. He is a partner at Nelson, Mullins, Riley, and Scarborough LLP and is a Board Certified appellate specialist who focuses on business and state constitutional litigation.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Heir Property Pro Bono Project

By Allison Constance

Across North Carolina, family land is lost, and people struggle to obtain benefits because they do not have a clear or marketable title to the home passed down to them. Fortunately, the North Carolina Bar Foundation, the NCBA Real Property Section, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Pisgah Legal Services, and the Land Loss Prevention Project have partnered together to create the Heir Property Pro Bono Project. The project helps heir property owners establish clear title to their homes and land, thereby preserving both generational wealth in families and safe and affordable housing in low-income communities, especially predominantly Black, rural communities.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Adam Arthur

Adam, a white man with light brow hair, wears a blue suit, white shirt and bright blue tie.

Adam Arthur

By Katherine Asaro

“In general, I am a firm believer in “To whom much is given, much will be required.” I have been blessed with some skills and talents. Fortunately, I have been able to make a career using those skills and talents and I find it important to give back and be of service to others.” Meet Adam Arthur, attorney at Arthur & Kirkman, LLC, and pro bono provider extraordinaire. He volunteers with Court Watch of North Carolina which has recently begun efforts to rebrand itself as Court Support for Families. In addition, he has been involved in the NCBF’s 4ALL Statewide Service Day for a number of years.  He is a frequent participant in the NCBF/ABA Free Legal Answers Project. And since 2012, he has served on every Guilford County District Court Civil Local Rules Committee that has been constituted. Please note this is not a complete list of all Adam’s volunteer contributions.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Grabowski Law Firm PLLC

Austin, left, is a man with brown hair who wears a grey suit, blue shirt, and plaid tie. He sits on steps outside with , a woman with brown hair, who wears a grey suit, maroon blouse, and glasses. A dog sits between the man and the woman.

Austin Grabowski, left, and practice manager Jessica Conner, right.

By Samantha Gordon

Grabowski Law Firm has an obvious passion for pro bono work. Austin Grabowski graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina then attended Campbell Law School of Law, where he excelled in leadership roles and his pro bono interest took off. When Austin graduated, he held a prestigious position clerking for Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson. After that position, he worked for a national law firm and a boutique law firm. After those experiences, Austin wanted hands-on experience with his clients, and Grabowski Law Firm was born in Charlotte, NC.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Kate Dieter-Maradei

Kate, a woman with brown hair, wears an olive green blouse, long necklace, and brown glasses.

Kate Dieter-Maradei

By Dawn LaRue

When asked about her caseload as a mediator specializing in Workers’ Compensation and employment disputes, she replied, “It’s wild! I have a frenetic caseload!” Any mediator worth their salt can enjoy a great work/life balance, filling their calendar with as much work as they choose to accept. What distinguishes Kate from many of her colleagues is that she adds an extra element to her personal balance: a passion for social justice. This passion is articulated in every aspect of her life. This dedication to her craft and her cause has earned Kate repeated recognition from both within and beyond the legal community.

Kate gives freely of her time, talent, and energy very literally. For the past 13-14 years, Kate has blocked two to three days each week for pursuing both pro bono projects and community causes. That’s an extraordinary 50% of each work week! And for more than a decade! With that time, Kate has spearheaded several community-building initiatives. Kate has even woven her fervor for inclusiveness into the fabric of her family. Kate and her husband, Nick Maradei, are trans-racial adoptive parents, having adopted at birth two African American daughters to complete their family along with their biological son.

There’s a singular event that prompted Kate to invest even more of herself to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion. The senseless killing of Minnesota motorist Philando Castile on July 6, 2016, rocked Kate to her core. As a mother raising two African American daughters, she became increasingly concerned for their personal safety. For Kate, action is the antidote to anxiety. She asked herself a searing question: what are we doing to facilitate community dialogue between law enforcement and black/brown communities?

The outworking of her search for an answer resulted in tremendous opportunities to bridge the racial divide. Kate formed strategic partnerships to help achieve her goals. One such initiative is the Project for Equitable Access in Remote Learning, or PEARL, a program aimed at closing the equity gap in education by providing mentors, and during the height of the pandemic,

in-person tutoring for students attending SE Raleigh High School. Kate’s desire was to provide for underprivileged youth what affluent parents were able to provide for their children. Kate also helped organize several vaccine clinics during COVID. Kate has also lent her expertise to a non-profit called “Boots on the Ground,” which is committed to targeting community violence intervention by facilitating dialogue between law enforcement and black communities.

Kate has been the driving force behind an initiative of the NCBA’s Dispute Resolution Section called Try Someone New: Diverse Mediator List. This resource enables parties from varied backgrounds to select a mediator who not only best reflects their own skin color but also brings unique life experience and multiple perspectives to the table. For her exemplary efforts, she was professionally recognized in the Triangle Business Journal’s People on the Move in Raleigh/Durham in 2014. Here’s what they had to say about Kate more recently: “Her focus and commitment to equity allow her to make a measurable difference.”

Kate remains quite humble despite the numerous awards for which she has been nominated, including the NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award and the Thorp Pro Bono Service Award. When asked what has meant the most to her over her career, she recounts an impassioned story about a successful pro bono lawsuit she filed in another state to recover legal fees stolen by a shyster attorney in another state. The recovered money allowed the family to purchase a specialized wheelchair for their eldest daughter. Thanks to her native-level speaking ability in Spanish, more than one immigration attorney has called on Kate to help obtain affidavits for their clients. If it were up to Kate, we could erase decades and decades of systemic racism in a single generation. But only if each of us grabs a shovel and helps dig.

Kate is a woman who has poured herself into her passion for achieving social justice. Each facet of her life reflects a different aspect of her living out an amazing life balance that gives her outlets for all of her creativeness and boundless energy. And if she were not doing enough during COVID, she also collaborated with her very talented friend to create a virtual concert for hospital patients and retirement communities called Sunshine Songs. Oh, and there’s also an annual, now large-scale, MLK event the family started to honor their daughters’ cultural heritage. In short, Kate is a one-woman force for good!

Dawn LaRue is a member of the NCBA Pro Bono Committee Recognition Subcommittee. 

2023 Pro Bono Award Winners Announced

The 2023 Pro Bono Award winners have been selected and will be recognized during the NCBA Annual Meeting on Friday, June 23 in Wilmington. The recipients are:

  • Greenblatt Outstanding Lawyer Award: Carlene McNulty – NC Justice Center
  • Thorp Pro Bono Service Award: Erik Zimmerman – Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA
  • YLD Pro Bono Award: Troy Shelton – Fox Rothschild LLP
  • Outstanding Paralegal Pro Bono Service Award: S.M. Kernodle-Hodges – Tolliver, Richardson & Kernodle LLC
  • Outstanding Collaborative Pro Bono Award: Afghan Asylum Project – Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein and Pisgah Legal Services
  • The Filling the Justice Gap Award: Charlotte Initiative to Mobilize Business
  • Law Firm Pro Bono Award: Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein
  • Law School Pro Bono Service Award: North Carolina Central University School of Law Elder Law Project

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Appellate Pro Bono Program Spotlight

Kaitlyn, a white woman with auburn hair, wears an ivory blouse and is pictured smiling.By Kaitlyn Fudge

The Appellate Pro Bono Program is available to pro bono lawyers in North Carolina, in collaboration with the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, and the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center. This program matches pro bono attorneys to pro se litigants in cases before the North Carolina Court of Appeals or the North Carolina Supreme Court.

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Pro Bono as Training for Attorneys

Casey, a white woman with curly dark brown hair, wears a pink blouse and black sweater.

Casey Burke

Lynna, a white woman with brown hair, wears a button-down dark purple shirt.

Lynna Moen

By Casey Burke and Lynna Moen

There are many wonderful reasons why attorneys engage in pro bono work. A robust pro bono practice not only greatly benefits low-income clients and the legal services organizations that serve them, but it also benefits attorneys from the private bar who take on pro bono representation. Pro bono attorneys report high levels of satisfaction, knowing that they played a significant role in helping another person who needed an attorney. It is often one of the most personally and professionally fulfilling parts of an attorney’s practice.

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Law School Information Panel at North Carolina State University

By Scheree, a woman with dark brown hair, wears a blue and white shirt and navy blazer.Scheree Gilchrist

On March 30, a free informational session was held for college students to help answer the common questions among prospective students: is law school a good fit for me, and what can expect in the first year? Featuring an experienced panel of North Carolina Bar Association lawyers from diverse backgrounds and specialties within the legal field, the event provided insights on what it takes to excel in law school and eventually practice law. With an engaged audience of more than 40 attendees, many of whom stayed after the session to speak with panelists, it was evident that there is a strong interest in navigating the complex world of legal education.

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