Pro Bono Spotlight: Candace Friel

Candace, a woman with curly red shoulder-length hair, wears a black shirt and blazer.

Candace Friel

By Allison Standard Constance

Candace Friel finds her passion for pro bono work in projects where she gets to work with clients one-on-one, especially at home in the Triad. Friel is a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, working as a healthcare and commercial litigator, and she is a member of the NCBA’s Health Law Section.

Since beginning her legal career at Nelson Mullins in 2007, Friel has built a robust pro bono practice, volunteering with driver’s license restoration clinics, Rebuild North Carolina, A Gift to Your Family advanced directive clinics, and more. Friel appreciates the opportunity to work with pro bono clients in person like she did with Rebuild North Carolina, where her client was seeking funds to help rebuild after Hurricanes Florence and Matthew.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Lorin Lapidus

Lorin, a white man with brown hair, wears a dark grey tie, pale grey shirt, and dark grey jacket.By Kaitlyn Fudge

“Our courts are designed to protect the stability of our law, and pro bono attorneys can play a role in that important tradition. Our courts work better when all parties have a say in the outcome, even those without sufficient means to participate.  Protecting an individual’s position safeguards the law at the same time, and as an officer of the court, I see that as my sincere duty.”

Who spoke these wise words? None other than Lorin Lapidus – a man who is a stellar example of someone who dedicates his legal services to pro bono work and cultivates a strong pro bono atmosphere at his firm.

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2022 North Carolina Pro Bono Reporting Now Open

Sylvia, a woman with curly brown hair and glasses, wears a white blouse and dark blue jacket.By Sylvia Novinsky

Equal access to justice should exist for every individual, regardless of economic status. However, the 2021 Civil Legal Needs Assessment published by the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission and Equal Justice Alliance, in partnership with UNC Greensboro’s Center for Housing and Community Studies, revealed that 86% of North Carolinians are not able to get legal help. Legal aid providers are woefully underfunded, which means they cannot serve the majority of the people who qualify for their services. Those who qualify for legal aid certainly cannot afford an attorney’s average $250/hour fee, and what’s more, a large majority of the middle class who do not qualify for legal aid or any government funding, cannot afford it either. When those of modest means do not have access to adequate legal services, we fail to represent the principles of our profession.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Randolph County Domestic Violence Volunteers

By Ashley Skaff

In 2016, when the Greensboro Legal Aid office lost the funding necessary to provide representation for members of the community navigating Domestic Violence, or “DV,” court, Tom Robins, an attorney at Bunch & Robins and member of the Family Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, stepped up.

In discussing his decision to begin this project, Tom is practical, and it is easy to see why he’s been a successful family law attorney for decades.

“Legal Aid wasn’t in a position to accept these cases, and it’s what I do so, naturally, it’s what I can do to help. I then asked some other lawyers if they would be willing to take it on.”

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Two Winston-Salem Firms Help Local Church Avoid Foreclosure


First Church of God in Christ is a thriving church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They have owned their worship space property – which contains a building valued at almost $1 million – for 23 years. Like most commercial real estate owners, First Church had a five-year term on the loan that was secured by their church property. When the term ended in February 2022, the lender was not willing to work with First Church to extend the term or give them additional time to refinance the loan, despite having an excellent payment history and substantial equity in the property.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Katie Jenifer

Katie has brown hair and wears a black shirt that reads, "Protect trans kids."

Katie Jenifer

By Sarah Hill McIntyre

Talk with Katie Jenifer about her work and pro bono experiences, and it won’t take you long to see the depth of her commitment or the magnitude of the positive effect she’s had in the community. The proud mom of two queer kids, Katie was driven to enroll in North Carolina Central University School of Law to start a second career at the age of forty-five after witnessing the legal and policy challenges her youngest daughter faced alongside her transition and the related need for more accessible legal services and advocacy in the community.

As a law student, Katie let her passion drive her. In her 1L year, Katie began researching and meeting with people holding name change clinics across the country to prepare to bring the service to NCCU. “I knew upon entering law school that I wanted NCCU to have a name change clinic/pro bono project to help overcome the barriers that my family faced,” she shares. “How could we make this process more accessible to more people? How could we ease the financial burden by providing legal assistance for free? How could we meet people where they were in the process and stay connected with them for as long as they needed us? How could we train law students how to work with LGBTQ+ clients to ensure no harm was done in the process of providing this service? How can we leverage NCCU’s HBCU legacy to reach more BIPOC clients who face additional barriers when accessing legal services? These were just some of the issues we contemplated when working toward creating the clinic/pro bono project.” Read more

October 23 to 29 is National Pro Bono Week 2022!

By Katherine AsaroKatherine, a white woman with brown hair, wears a black tank.

The North Carolina Bar Association Pro Bono Committee invites you to join us in celebrating National Pro Bono Week and all things pro bono.

Pro bono legal service is vital in addressing unmet legal needs in North Carolina and across the country. We hope that pro bono is a part of your life and practice throughout the entire year, but also know that there are obstacles to committing time to pro bono. But heed our call: National Pro Bono Week is a great time to start and/or continue the important volunteer legal work that only we, as members of the legal profession, can do. When you provide pro bono legal service, you provide a benefit and skill set to the community that is not being met without your commitment of time and unique professional talents. You have skills and knowledge that are in short supply and desperately needed.

We encourage you to celebrate the important contributions of pro bono across the state and to document your commitment on social media using #CelebrateProBono. Volunteer with your local legal service provider, nonprofit, or other programs (like the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center) in need of legal services during pro bono week. We hope that you’ll catch “the bug” and keep or continue pro bono throughout the year!

Read more about the national celebration of Pro Bono Week.

Learn about North Carolina Bar Foundation volunteer opportunities.

Katherine Asaro is the Executive Director or North Carolina LEAF and the NCBA Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Kayla Britt

Kayla Britt

Kayla Britt

By Kaitlyn Fudge

Kayla Britt is the example of a what everyone strives for in a great lawyer: dedicated, professional, passionate, humble.

A recipient of the NCBA YLD Young Lawyer of the Quarter for October through December 2020 and July through September 2021, Kayla has been working hard to serve those in North Carolina. Since law school, Kayla has made it a priority to focus on pro bono work.

Kayla shares, “Pro bono work is important to me because it allows me to assist those who may otherwise not have adequate assistance. It also allows me to broaden my experiences beyond the skills I learn in my job.”

Kayla works with the Housing Stability Pro Bono Project (“HSP”), which is a joint effort of the North Carolina Bar Foundation and North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center in partnership with the North Carolina Office of Recovery & Resilience. This Project works with the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program (“HOPE”) — a program that provides income-based assistance for vulnerable tenants at risk of eviction. Volunteers with this project help to stabilize housing by facilitating agreements between tenants and landlords to accept HOPE terms.

Kayla’s favorite experience with HSP is when she facilitated a landlord-tenant agreement, one that led to helping many others: Kayla contacted a landlord to help a specific tenant. After learning about the program, the landlord wanted to help her other tenants with HOPE. Kayla was able to get a list from the landlord to refer to HOPE, potentially preventing many other evictions.

“The overwhelming joy tenants exhibit when they find out that we reached an agreement with their landlord has been more than I ever expected to experience in a pro bono role,” Kayla said.

Beyond her pro bono service with HSP, Kayla is an Assistant Attorney General with the North Carolina Department of Justice Appellate & Post-Conviction Section where she prepares the state’s criminal briefs, responds to habeas corpus petitions, and appears before both North Carolina Appellate Courts and Federal District Courts. She volunteers with Wills For Heroes, assisting first responders with estate planning.

Kayla is a member of the NCBA Litigation Section and co-chair of Young Lawyers Division Law Student Outreach Committee.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Anna Davis

Anna Davis

Anna Davis

By Dawn LaRue

For attorneys, fewer things are more important than having an outstanding reputation amongst one’s professional peers. Reputation is something that is observed by others. For example, one attorney could be known for sporting flamboyant bow ties, another for her killer collection of Jimmy Choo shoes. While it’s good to score fashion and style points, that says nothing about the quality of one’s work. It’s better to be known for getting great results for one’s clients. And it’s best to be known for zealous representation, and for carving out time from a busy practice to provide pro bono legal services. Anna Davis has earned an exemplary reputation not only for practicing law at the highest professional level, but also for making tremendous pro bono contributions.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Blaine Sanders

Blaine Sanders

Blaine Sanders

By Allison Standard Constance

Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, PA’s Blaine Sanders is not only committed to pro bono work in his own practice but in facilitating opportunities for others to serve as well. For over thirty-five years, Sanders has built a litigation practice focusing on commercial, real estate, employment, and sports & entertainment law, and he is a member of the NCBA’s Litigation and Employment sections. His pro bono practice, described by his colleagues as a “tremendous combination of pro bono work,” spans landlord/tenant matters, expungement cases, non-profit work, and more.

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