The 28th Judicial District Bar and Pisgah Legal Services co-sponsored the nominations of attorneys Walton Davis, Stone & Christy, P.A., Esther Manheimer, The Van Winkle Law Firm, and Douglas J. Tate, McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A., for the NCBA’s 2013 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award. PLS and the Bar nominated Emily Nenni, McGuire Wood & Bissette, P.A., for the Younger Lawyer Pro Bono Service Award.
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 2012, Pisgah Legal’s staff attorneys and MAVL volunteers helped more than 13,000 low-income people.
In 2012, MAVL attorneys donated 3,643 hours of legal services to help PLS clients, which is modestly valued at more than $546,460. Twenty percent of PLS cases closed last year were done so by volunteer attorneys. 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:
Walton Davis began volunteering through the MAVL Program at Pisgah Legal Services in 1991. Since then he has donated 256 hours, and has closed 60 cases. Last year, Walton volunteered a total of 63.75 hours. Walton practices in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, tax controversies, and organizing and advising charitable organizations at Stone & Christy, P.A. In the community, he serves the vestry of St. James Episcopal Church, is on the board of directors for the Swannanoa Valley Montessori School and is a member of the Asheville Jazz Orchestra.
Esther Manheimer began volunteering at Pisgah Legal Services in 2002 by taking cases through MAVL. Over time she has donated 307 hours. Last year, Esther volunteered a total of 162 hours through MAVL. Esther joined The Van Winkle Law Firm in 2002. Her practice focuses on civil litigation specifically in the areas of land litigation and creditors’ rights. She currently serves as the Vice Mayor of the city of Asheville. Esther was a Tribute to Women of Influence (TWIN) Awards honoree presented by YMCA of Asheville in 2009, was previously nominated for the William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award in 2007, and received the 2012 Most Valuable Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer Award by Pisgah Legal Services.
Douglas J. Tate has been an active member of MAVL since 2005. During that time he has volunteered a total of 298 hours. Doug is a shareholder at McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A. where he concentrates in the area of Creditor’s Rights. He also practices Animal Law. Doug served as the President of the 28th Judicial District Bar in 2012, has served on the 28th Judicial District Pro Bono Committee, and just completed six years of service on the board of directors of Pisgah Legal Services. He currently serves on the board of Hope for Horses and the N.C. Horse Counsel. Doug is also a volunteer judge for Buncombe County Teen Court, a diversion program for first-time offenders.
Emily Nenni joined the MAVL Program in 2011, and has since donated 77.50 hours in the course of representing indigent clients. At McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A., Emily assists individuals and business organizations in WNC by providing consultations and drafting contracts such as service warranties, purchase and sale agreements, and confidentiality agreements. She counsels family-owned businesses on issues of individual and commercial significance, and she counsels and represents individuals on a variety of issues including landlord-tenant disputes, real estate, personal injury, and employment issues. Emily serves as secretary of the Young Lawyer Division of the 28th Judicial District Bar, is liaison to the Western Chapter of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, and is a member of Leadership Asheville Forum and Young Professionals of Asheville.