Pisgah Legal Services depends on volunteer attorneys to donate their time and expertise to take on legal cases for clients living in poverty. The Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers (MAVL) Program, a partnership between the private bar and Pisgah Legal Services, utilizes more than 300 volunteer attorneys who donated 3,993 hours of pro bono service in 2018. Volunteers handled approximately 20% of all of Pisgah Legal’s cases—allowing the nonprofit to assist many more people than it would have without assistance from these volunteer attorneys.
The Buncombe County Bar recognized four local attorneys on Wednesday, May 15 for their exemplary pro bono service at a celebration luncheon at Celine & Company (see photos below). In June, Black Mountain law firm Stone & Christy will be recognized by the NC Bar Association for it’s tremendous volunteer service to the community. Read the article published in the Mountain Xpress.
The honorees were:
(from left to right)
Outstanding Emeritus Attorney Award Eleanor Powers
Outstanding Younger Attorney Award Natalie Gray of Westall, Gray, Connolly, PA
Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer Award Lance Martin of Ward & Smith, PA
Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer Award Alex Gomes of Montford Law
Some highlights from the honorees work with Pisgah Legal Services (pictured from left to right):
Outstanding Emeritus Attorney Award Eleanor Powers – After retiring from estate planning law in Texas, Eleanor Powers and her husband John moved to Asheville where she began volunteering with Pisgah Legal’s MAVL program in 2009. Eleanor is committed to ensuring clients have her assistance for end-of-life legal matters. She meets with terminally-ill and elderly clients in their homes, the hospital or hospice. In the last two years Eleanor has provided pro bono representation to 28 clients, including a patient in hospice care following a stroke.
Outstanding Younger Attorney Award Natalie Gray of Westall, Gray, Connolly, PA – Natalie Gray has been a volunteer attorney with Pisgah Legal’s MAVL program since 2014, providing legal help on a range of consumer issues including bankruptcy, debt management, homeownership matters, collections, and consumer protection. She facilitates regular debt management clinics at Pisgah Legal Services to educate local consumers about their rights and responsibilities. One of Natalie’s recent pro bono bankruptcy clients was a woman who had suffered serious, disabling health problems. Natalie helped her secure debt relief so she could keep her home.
Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer Award Lance Martin of Ward & Smith, PA – Lance Martin has been a volunteer attorney with Pisgah Legal’s MAVL Program since 2011 and regularly represents low-income tenants in landlord-tenant and consumer cases. In a recent case, Lance secured a significant settlement for a client whose landlord had refused to make the client’s home habitable, including leaving the client without heat and water. With Lance’s help, the client has resources to move to a safer home.
Outstanding Volunteer Lawyer Award Alex Gomes of Montford Law – A former staff attorney for Pisgah Legal Services, Alex Gomes started volunteering with the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program (MAVL) as soon as he entered private practice in 2012. Alex takes some of the most complex family law cases, representing domestic violence survivors in divorce, custody matters and equitable distribution of assets to help ensure the survivor can live apart from their abuser.
More photos from the celebration