RALEIGH, N.C. – “We (lawyers) make our money and livelihood in a way other members of the public can’t, so that gives us a special responsibility to provide services to those who cannot afford to pay us,” says Martin Brinkley, a partner with Smith Anderson and president of the North Carolina Bar Association. Mr. Brinkley explained the importance of giving back to our community in an article in this month’s Business North Carolina. The magazine examined the generosity of the top area lawyers who were named among the Legal Elite this year.
Lawyers who are listed by Legal Elite in 2012 gave examples of pro bono work such as participation in programs for Habitat for Humanity, Churches and Synagogues, children’s enrichment programs, cultural outreach, environmental efforts, education, the Red Cross, sports, help for the homeless, physical and mental health programs, and Urban Ministries as well as contributing to the bar associations 4All Program. On the 4ALL Statewide Service Day, lawyers join forces and take calls from the public at seven call centers throughout North Carolina providing legal information and referral resources.
The State Bar adopted a rule in 2010 that defines pro bono work as a “responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, or, in other words, indigent.” This rule suggests, but does not require, that lawyers give a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono legal service a year.