Pro Bono Awards for 2015

Local attorneys have been nominated for annual awards sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) to recognize volunteer attorneys who provide exemplary pro bono service to low-income people. The nominees were recognized at the April 8th meeting of the Buncombe County Bar at the Venue in downtown Asheville.

The Buncombe County Bar and Pisgah Legal Services (PLS) co-sponsored the nominations of attorneys April M. Burt, Burt Langley PC; Dale A. Curriden, The Van Winkle Law Firm; and Perrin de Jong, a solo practitioner, for the NCBA’s 2015 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award. PLS and the Bar nominated Nicki Applefield, The Hart Law Group, for the Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award.

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These attorneys are being recognized for their volunteer service through the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers (MAVL) Program, which is administered by Pisgah Legal Services. Through MAVL, more than 300 private attorneys provide free civil legal services each year to low-income people to help them meet their most basic needs, including housing, health care, income, safety from domestic violence, and consumer protection. MAVL includes attorneys from Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania counties.

Pisgah Legal Services is a nonprofit, community-based law firm providing free, civil legal services to low-income people in Western North Carolina. MAVL attorneys work with PLS to help people in crisis solve legal problems to secure urgent necessities. In 2014, Pisgah Legal’s staff attorneys and MAVL volunteers helped more than 14,000 low-income people.

In 2014, MAVL attorneys donated 3,725 hours of legal services to help PLS clients, which is valued at more than $745,068. MAVL stands out across the state as a model volunteer attorney program. Local attorneys, both as individuals and as firms, have been recognized numerous times at the state level for their tremendous volunteer commitment.

Highlights of the contributions of award nominees include:

Nicki Applefield began volunteering with Pisgah Legal Services in 2012 and since then has closed 19 cases, donating over 135 pro bono hours. Nicki practices law with The Hart Law Group, where her practice focuses on elder law and veterans and other public benefits.
Applefield is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans with benefit claims. She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and she sits on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina chapter.

April Burt became a Mountain Area Volunteer Attorney in 2001. Since then she has closed 32 pro bono cases, donating over 165 hours of her time. Burt co-founded Burt Langley PC where her practice includes end-of-life planning and estate administration.

Dale Curriden joined the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program in 1997. He’s represented 17 clients, donating over 273 pro bono hours. He is a partner at The Van Winkle Law firm and his practice areas include civil litigation, professional malpractice defense, personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, workplace accidents and insurance coverage disputes. Curriden has been recognized by North Carolina Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.

Perrin de Jong has closed 63 cases and donated over 141 of pro bono hours since joining the MAVL program in 2012. de Jong operates a solo private practice in Asheville. His practice areas include criminal defense, consumer protection and employee protection law. In addition to participating in the Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Program, de Jong also offers pro bono legal consulting for environmental activists in the area.