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Smith Anderson 2019 Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service Presented to Wake Forest University School of Law Student

04.09.2019

Wake Forest University School of Law student Briana Whalin has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service in recognition of outstanding pro bono service to the community. The award is given annually to a Wake Forest University School of Law student who exhibits passion, creativity and dedication to serving people in need and whose pro bono service results in a demonstrated impact or  increases access to legal information.

The firm funded the establishment of the Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach at Wake Forest University School of Law, which houses the Pro Bono Project and the Public Interest Law Organization.

With a passion for estate planning and elder law, Briana has worked diligently to serve the Winston-Salem community by providing pro bono legal services to those in need. Since entering law school she has volunteered more than 145 hours of service to the Wake Forest University School of Law Wills Project, including taking on a leadership role as its Project Coordinator in 2018.

As Project Coordinator Briana has played an integral role in not only expanding the legal services offered, but also in expanding the reach of people served. Under her leadership, the Wills Project partnered with the North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF) to hold a Wills for Heroes event which helped 56 of North Carolina’s first responders obtain 168 end of life legal documents for their estate planning needs. Briana also worked to expand the estate planning pro bono services provided by the Wills Project to include a Durable Power of Attorney. This critical document allows an individual to designate legally who the person is they desire to handle their finances should the individual no longer be able to do so, thus avoiding unnecessary legal costs and complications that can arise when no such legal directives exist. Briana hopes this service will be fully integrated into the Wills Project pro bono offerings by the Fall of 2019.

In addition to her leadership and service with the Wills Project, Briana is serving as Co- President of the Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition. The Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition is a joint effort between the Legal Aid Society and Wake Forest University School of Law to promote awareness and provide support for victims of domestic violence in Winston- Salem. Briana also serves as Co-Director of the Public Interest Law Organization Auction and is a member of the Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy.

“Briana Whalin has demonstrated her passion, creativity, dedication and commitment to serving her community through her exceptional pro bono work,” said Wake Forest University School of Law Dean Suzanne Reynolds. “Briana’s spirit and tireless work ethic have made a positive impact on not only the Wake Forest family but the Winston-Salem community” 

Briana holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from the University of Florida, where she graduated cum laude in 2015. In addition to her pro bono work, she serves as a teaching assistant for professional development for the law school, mentoring law students on  developing effective job search plans.  She will receive her juris doctorate from the law school in May of 2019.  

Eligible candidates for the Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service must:

  • Be a Pro Bono Honor Society member (society members are students who complete 75 hours of pro bono service over a three-year period or 50 hours in one year);
  • Have 100 or more pro-bono hours within three years or 75 hours or more within one year; and
  • Exhibit passion, creativity, dedication and commitment to serving those in need. The pro bono service must result in demonstrated impact or increasing access to legal information.

The award is presented at the law school’s Pro Bono Honor Society dinner. For more information about Wake Forest University School of Law, visit law.wfu.edu.

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