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2018 Citizen Lawyer Award Winner Sylvia Novinsky

2018 Citizen Lawyer Award Winner Sylvia Novinsky

The Citizen Lawyer Committee of the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the NCBA Citizen Lawyer Committee, provides expanded coverage of the 2018 Citizen Lawyer Award recipients in recognition of their volunteer service and leadership in their communities and beyond.

By Molly Martinson

Sylvia Novinsky

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Bar Association has recognized Sylvia Novinsky with its Citizen Lawyer Award. The award honors attorneys who dedicate their time and talents to serving their communities and inspire others to do the same.

Novinsky is a “true community leader who has made a career of serving others through the legal profession,” says Kim Bart Mullikin, Director of Public Service and Pro Bono Activities at the North Carolina Bar Foundation.  

Novinsky’s role as a community leader and devoted public servant has shined throughout her career. Her passion for organizing and encouraging others to participate in pro bono legal projects manifests as a “force for good,” according to Novinsky’s former student and current coworker Jared Smith.

As the inaugural director of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, Novinsky strives to fulfill the organization’s mission of helping North Carolina attorneys find pro bono legal service opportunities to address unmet legal needs in our State. Novinsky works with Legal Aid providers, non-profit organizations, public officials, students, and practicing attorneys to increase attorney awareness of and access to pro bono legal projects.  

Spearheading the Appellate Pro Bono Program, along with Judge Dietz, Judge Stephens, and the NCBA Appellate Practice Section, has been Novinsky’s primary objective of late. The program connects pro bono attorneys with pro se litigants in matters before the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. To date, the program has trained 48 attorneys, and they hope to garner more attorney participation as the program progresses.

Prior to the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, Novinsky served as Assistant Dean for Public Service Programs at UNC School of Law. While at UNC, she developed and mentored the UNC Pro Bono Board, a 13-member student board with the mission of increasing the provision of high-quality, low-cost legal services to North Carolina residents in need. Novinsky led students from Cherokee, where they helped tribe members draft end of life documents, to Wilmington, where they conducted criminal record expunction clinics.

The daughter of Argentinian immigrants, Novinsky is deeply impacted by her parents, who moved to the United States with nothing and emphasized to Novinsky the importance of education and kindness to others. Today, Novinsky hopes to instill the same values in her 14-year-old daughter.

From the mountains to the coast, Novinsky is committed to expanding the depth of and access to pro bono legal services in our state. But in between, at her home in Durham, Novinsky says she just wants to make her daughter proud.

Molly Martinson is an attorney at Wyrick, Robbins, Yates & Ponton LLP in Raleigh.