2020 Pro Bono Awards Announced

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The winners of the North Carolina Bar Association’s 2020 Pro Bono Awards have been selected. The recipients were chosen by members of the NCBA Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Emily Moseley and Jennifer Mencarini.

Congratulations to each recipient and their nominators, who provided the background and biographical information included below for each honoree.

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2020 Legal Legends of Color Honorees Announced

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By Sharita M. Whitaker

The word “change” has various definitions, but my favorite expression of change is “to shift; to undergo transformation or transition.” We can certainly say that “change” is inevitable in all aspects of our lives. Thus far in 2020 alone, we have witnessed how COVID-19 and other events have caused many of us to adjust when, how, and where we work and interact with others. Also, the NCBA has had to shift its 2020 Annual Meeting in Charlotte to an online, virtual program. But “change” presents us with an opportunity to reflect on and learn from our experiences and the experiences of others in order for each of us to evolve for the better.

Although we are unable to celebrate together at the Annual Meeting in Charlotte, and we are adjusting to the change by celebrating in other (virtual) ways, we are proud to announce our 2020 Legal Legends of Color honorees: Judge Yvonne Mims Evans, Senator Dan T. Blue Jr., Attorney Anthony Fox, Professor George R. Johnson Jr., and the late Attorney J. Kenneth Lee. In order to be named a Legal Legend of Color, such person must be (1) a lawyer of color practicing (or one who has practiced most recently) in North Carolina for at least 15 years, (2) have had a legal career with a significant impact in North Carolina, (3) have demonstrated a high level of service to his/her local community and/or on an statewide basis, and (4) be a member in good standing of the North Carolina State Bar (active or inactive). These five attorneys have more than satisfied the criteria for being named a Legal Legend of Color, and, further, they have all effected significant positive change in the North Carolina legal community and beyond. We are honored to share snippets of their distinguished careers with you:

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A Geezer Lawyer’s Letter to a 3L

By Franklin Drake

UNC School of Law ’78

Dear Megan,

Congratulations on completion of your 2L year! The rest of your law school career will pass a lot faster than you might think it will. The tedium of your 3L year will quickly give way to terror of the bar exam. I predict you will pass. Your license will mean you can begin to learn how to make a living as a lawyer. Word has it that you will choose to enter private practice, preferably as an associate in a law firm. Good.

Law school has done a good job of teaching you how to think. I doubt it has done a good job of teaching you how to build a law practice. I know my law school did not. Those hard lessons came later for me, with a painfully high tuition of experience. You are at the threshold of a long legal career, just as I am concluding one of 40+ years. It’s time someone whispered the secret truths and showed you the secret handshake. Let me.

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