Get Involved: National Pro Bono Week

By Samantha E. Unmann

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Pro Bono is a Latin term meaning for the public good. That’s exactly why attorneys participate in legal service opportunities and why YOU should be participating in them too. The National Celebration of Pro Bono Week is October 20-25 and that means it is a month of celebrating pro bono! To kick off pro bono month, I would like to share with you how attorneys in your community are working together to provide legal services to those in need. #celebrateprobono

On August 26, 2019, I attended the Inaugural Pro Bono Leadership Orientation. The orientation program was held to prepare NCBA pro bono leaders for the new bar year. The orientation kicked off with LeAnn Nease Brown, NCBA/Foundation President, welcoming all the pro bono leaders to the program. The event gathered forty NCBA members, including Section, Division and Committee Chairs and Pro Bono Chairs. The orientation touched on the importance of pro bono work, why we do pro bono work as attorneys under Rule 6.1, and all the legal service opportunities that are available to attorneys through the NCBF, NCBA, legal service organizations and the NC Pro Bono Resource Center statewide. This event was a very helpful outlet for everyone in the room to discuss the pro bono and community service programs and resources that the NCBA and NCBF offer to make access to pro bono opportunities easier.

There are NUMEROUS pro bono and community service programs that attorneys can get involved in. As a young attorney, getting involved in your community is essential for not only your professional growth, but also your personal growth. You may think you don’t have time to give up a few hours on a Saturday to participate in a pro bono project because maybe work ran over to the weekend or maybe you have another wedding to attend. Listen, I get it, I am right there with you. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Nevertheless, if you schedule one weekend or weeknight, maybe every month or quarter, that otherwise would have been consumed with binge-watching your favorite show, to participate in a pro bono or community service project, you are putting your best foot forward and creating a more well-rounded you. When you work on a pro bono project, you are connecting with other attorneys and your community on a whole different level. YOU are helping people in need. YOU are providing a service that only you as an attorney can do. YOU are providing the opportunity of equal access to justice for all.

I urge you to take a look at the following programs (this is by no means an exhaustive list) available through the North Carolina Bar Foundation. Add one or two or maybe three of the programs that interest you to your busy, there-is-always-something-to-do schedule and make a difference in your community! Malpractice insurance is provided for all pro bono work through NC Bar Foundation programs.

  • NC Free Legal Answers: Web-based portal that allows financially eligible NC residents to ask civil legal questions for lawyers to answer anonymously online, providing brief legal information and advice. It takes less than 5 minutes to register and you can immediately browse the queue of questions and pick one that fits your interest. Take up to 3 days to research a response. To register, visit
  • Wills for Heroes: I am a co-chair for this project, and it is dear to my heart. Volunteers provide free estate planning documents to first responders and their families. Clinics are held from 9:00 am-2:30 pm. No prior estate planning experience is necessary. Training is provided. To participate, visit
    • Saturday, October 5 hosted by and held at Duke Law School
    • Saturday, October 12 hosted by and held at UNC School of Law
    • Saturday, November 2 hosted by Wake County Bar Association, held at Raleigh Police Training Academy
  • 4ALL Statewide Service Day: Will take place on Friday, March 6, 2020. Attorneys volunteer at call center sites across the state to answer calls from NC residents who have legal questions. To participate, visit
  • Lawyers for Literacy: Legal professionals can share their time and love of reading of civics and U.S. history with young students. To participate, visit
  • Middle School Mock Trial: Providing resources and support to regional middle school mock trial competitions across the state.

If you are still looking for pro bono opportunities that fit your pro bono interests, visit the NC Pro Bono Resource Center website ( where attorneys can look up such legal service opportunities. Want to participate in a project that deals with the area of law you practice? Want to pinpoint a project that is specifically located in your geographical area? The NC Pro Bono Resource Center has got you covered! Please visit at!

As Chief Justice Cheri Beasley for the Supreme Court of North Carolina said, “Members of North Carolina’s legal profession are in a unique position to do what is right and good for the people of our state. Providing pro bono legal services ensure equal access to justice for all.”

If you post on social media this month, make sure to hashtag #celebrateprobono!