Allison regularly volunteers for the Pro Bono Resource Center’s initiatives such as the Driver’s License Restoration and Housing Stability projects. She recently received the Emerging Leader Award from the Association of American Law Schools’ Pro Bono and Public Service Section. Read below to learn more about Allison’s pro bono work and how it has impacted her both personally and professionally.
Tell me about your regular practice area: Where do you practice and what do you do? What do you love most about your job?
- I work at UNC School of Law as the Director of Pro Bono Initiatives. In this role, I supervise the law school’s Pro Bono Program and work with students to create opportunities to build skills for practice and meet unmet legal needs. I also provide general student support, and I teach a class called Transition to the Profession. I love helping students explore their passions and showing them that they have the skills to make a difference in someone’s life.
What is your most recent pro bono experience?
- I am currently working on a few petitions for clemency for the Juvenile Sentence Review Board (JSRB). I have a special interest in working with people who are incarcerated, especially those serving long sentences for juvenile offenses. Governor Cooper created the JSRB in April 2021 because of a new awareness related to the treatment of juvenile offenders and implications of race in sentencing, and I am hopeful that the JSRB will grant clemency to some very deserving folks.
How has engagement in pro bono legal service enriched your career or enriched you personally or professionally?
- In one way or another, pro bono work has completely shaped my career. The first time I worked with a person who was incarcerated was on a law school pro bono trip, and I’ve been doing similar work ever since. Pro bono work has allowed me to develop meaningful relationships in the profession, learn about areas of law new to me, and know that I’m doing something small to help when our world is in so much chaos.
Of what moment(s) from your pro bono work are you proudest?
- The most rewarding moments from my pro bono work have been times where I have seen a recognition from the client that they know I am working as I hard as I can for them and that they feel heard.
What pro bono awards have you received and how are these awards significant to your pro bono service?
- I was recently given the Emerging Leader Award from the Association of American Law School’s Pro Bono and Public Service Section. I am honored to receive this award, especially since it’s the first time it has been given out. While I don’t do pro bono work and facilitation for the recognition, it is a wonderful feeling to know that others see how hard I am working.
What advice would you give someone who has not yet provided any pro bono work?
- There’s something out there for everyone. If you’re not ready to commit to a long case, there are projects that are short-time commitments—even some that can be finished within a few hours. Legal professionals all have skills that we can use to make our communities better, and we have an obligation to use them.