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Professionalism: The Get and Give of Volunteering

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 18, 2018

Meredith Cross, Gailor | Hunt | Jenkins | Davis |Taylor | Gibbs

Over the last week I have attended several swearing-in ceremonies, an event that occurs semi-annually and until now I had never attended. At these ceremonies, I got to experience firsthand the bright, shining faces of the new admittees, filled with excitement and optimism after being sworn-in to the practice of law. 

On October 4th, I had the opportunity to hear Justice Paul Newby speak at the Wake County Bar Association’s swearing-in ceremony. In his speech to the new admittees about professionalism and the practice of law, the one piece of information that stood out to me most was his discussion of the necessity of providing pro bono services as a lawyer.

Pursuant to the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, “Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.” Although it is recognized that the amount of hours a lawyer provides pro bono services may vary from year to year, “a lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono public services per year.” 

During his speech, Justice Newby referenced an email that some in the audience may have already received earlier in the week from the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, detailing the Supreme Court of North Carolina’s recent approval of a temporary amendment to the rules of the North Carolina State Bar.  This temporary amendment permits lawyers barred in other states to provide legal services in North Carolina, under the supervision of Legal Aid, to those affected by Hurricane Florence.

What I did not know, and I imagine many others in the audience were unaware of, is that the Supreme Court of North Carolina approved this temporary amendment due to the lack of North Carolina lawyers responding to the call for help to provide pro bono services as a part of the hurricane relief.  

My first thoughts were of shock and embarrassment that the Supreme Court of North Carolina had to take the drastic action of temporarily amending the rules to the North Carolina State Bar to allow lawyers from other states to answer the call to aid because our own lawyers have not responded. These thoughts were quickly followed by the realization that it is our duty as lawyers to instill a sense of public service in these new admittees and others. 

Winston Churchill said it best: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  As lawyers, we need to take time to remember this and ensure that those that who come after us understand its significance. 

To volunteer, please visit:

https://ncprobono.org/disaster/

https://ncprobono.org/volunteer/find-pro-bono-opportunities/

 

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