Two EMP Attorneys Inducted into 2018 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society

  • EMP attorneys Helen Parsonage and Ben Winikoff were inducted into the 2018 class of the N.C. Pro Bono Honor Society. Society members reported providing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal services in 2018 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.

    “The North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society helps us as a legal profession to shine a light on those attorneys making outstanding contributions to North Carolinians who need, but cannot afford, legal help,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. “By recognizing these important and valuable pro bono services, we celebrate our state’s lawyers committed to ensuring equal access to justice for all.”

    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 41,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2018 to North Carolinians living in poverty. All 1,420 attorneys, or more than 5% of active attorneys in North Carolina, who shared information about their pro bono volunteerism together provided nearly 54,000 hours of pro bono legal services in 2018.

    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 North Carolina 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.

    “Pro bono lawyers are a crucial resource for those North Carolinians who cannot afford legal services,” said PBRC Director Novinsky. “I am inspired by the volunteer spirit of the North Carolina bar highlighted by pro bono reporting. The growing list of attorneys recognized by the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society serves as a symbol to other attorneys that finding time to volunteer is doable.”

    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 Honor Society celebrates the unique volunteerism that only lawyers can give.