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Pro Bono Awards

Nominate an attorney, firm or project for an NCBA Pro Bono Award!

Nomination Form Here

Deadline: 5 p.m. Friday, February 1, 2020 

William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award: Presented to an NCBA member attorney who practices in North Carolina and has provided substantial legal services, in excess of the aspirational goals of Rule 6.1, with no expectation of receiving a fee, to a client or client group that could not otherwise afford legal counsel. The nominee should have engaged in the direct delivery of legal services to clients or a client group over an extended period of time, and those efforts should be ongoing. Nominees must not be employed on a full-time basis by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor.

Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award: Presented to a lawyer who is employed full time by a legal services program in North Carolina and who has made an exemplary contribution to the provision of legal assistance to help meet the needs of the poverty population in North Carolina.

Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award: Presented by the NCBA Young Lawyers Division to an NCBA Young Lawyers Division member who has made extraordinary contributions by providing exemplary legal services without a fee and increased access to justice on behalf of persons of limited means and/or charitable groups or organizations. Nominees must not be employed on a full-time basis by an organization that has as its primary purpose the provision of free legal services to the poor.

Law Firm Pro Bono Award: The Law Firm Pro Bono Award recognizes law firms for their commitment to pro bono service through the contribution of pro bono hours, the percentage of billable hours devoted to pro bono work, the number and percentage of firm attorneys providing pro bono legal service, the firm’s creative approach to pro bono engagement, the consistency and sincerity of its pro bono program, and the presence of a law firm culture that is grounded in the observance of Rule 6.1 (Voluntary Pro Bono Publico Service) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Outstanding Collaborative Pro Bono Service Award: Presented to a law firm, local, district, or statewide bar organization whose members have engaged in significant and notable legal services or have contributed outstanding support and assistance to the maintenance of pro bono legal services for low-income individuals. This award recognizes creativity in the provision of pro bono legal services, as well as innovative approaches to engage and encourage North Carolina attorneys to participate in pro bono legal service. Honorees will have demonstrated a commitment to pro bono service by engaging a group of attorneys in a cooperative pro bono effort that has deep impact on the lives of low-income North Carolinians. 

Law Student Group Pro Bono Service Award: Presented to an outstanding law student group whose pro bono project advanced access to justice in North Carolina. Consideration will be given to law school groups or projects engaging 2 or more North Carolina law school students who are not receiving law school academic credit for their work and who have provided assistance to low-income people in North Carolina.



Please complete the Pro Bono Award Nomination Form to nominate an attorney, law school, law firm, bar association or other group pro bono effort for one of the pro bono awards listed above. The Nomination Form will request the following information:

Introduction (for Collaborative and Law School award categories): Provide an introductory statement (~200 words) that includes information about the size, primary officers and other descriptive information concerning law firm, law school or pro bono group effort nominees.

Individual Nominees (for Thorp, Greenblatt, and Younger Lawyer award categories): In addition to filling out the nomination form, please email the nominee's resume to

Narrative: Explain the nominee’s pro bono service and why the nominee should be selected for the particular award category. Pay careful attention to the award category’s criteria. Give detailed information about the nature of the pro bono service and the effect it has had on the targeted client group. Include any supporting data such as news articles, statistics, publications and similar documents. The written portion, excluding the supporting data, should be no longer than three pages (500–1000 words).

Letters of Support or References: The nominator must indicate whether additional support for the nomination will come in the form of a letter from someone familiar with the candidate's pro bono work (no more than 2 letters will be accepted), or by providing 2-3 references for the nominee, including name, title, email/phone contact information and the reference’s relation to the nominee (i.e. legal services provider attorney, client served). Members of the NCBA Pro Bono Awards Committee will contact the references provided. Letters of support or a list of references must be submitted to by February 1, 2020. 

Nomination Review Criteria: The following criteria will be used by the Pro Bono Awards Subcommittee to evaluate all nominees. Nominators and references should be prepared to address these considerations in Letters of Support or when called to supply a reference for the nomination:

  • Pro Bono Impact: Does the nominee/project serve an underserved population, including communities of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, seniors, homeless, residents in rural areas, non-English speakers, people living with disabilities or other groups that may lack access to legal services in North Carolina? How many individuals have been impacted by the nominee’s pro bono service/project?
  • Pro Bono Hours Impact: How many pro bono hours did the nominee provide in connection with the nomination? How many pro bono cases did the nominee handle, over what period of time?
  • Bridging the Access to Justice Gap: To what extent does this nominee’s pro bono service/project impact the legal system? To what extent has the nominee made other kinds of voluntary contributions to support increased access to justice in North Carolina (e.g. board service, personal contribution/fundraising for a legal aid program, recruitment, starting new pro bono projects, etc.)?
  • Pro Bono Legacy: Is this a repeatable, ongoing service/project, or a one-time event? Describe the nominee's level of committment to continued pro bono practice, or the project's sustainability. 
  • Support of Nomination: Does the nomination include support from outside of the nominee’s organization, including from recipients or clients of nominee’s pro bono service?

If the nomination is selected for award, the nominator will be asked to provide a high resolution digital image of the award recipient. Any nominations not selected for award will be held over for reconsideration again next year.

Pro Bono Award nominations are due by 5 p.m. February 1, 2020.

Nomination Form Here