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Firm Hosts 13th Annual Public Service Luncheon

Cabell Clay receives 2014 Sally & Bill Van Allen Public Service Award
July 2014

Moore & Van Allen PLLC honored select Firm attorneys and staff at its 13th annual Sally & Bill Van Allen Public Service Luncheon in June.  Litigation Associate M. Cabell Clay received the hallmark 2014 Sally & Bill Van Allen Public Service Award for her commitment to public service in 2013.  Additionally, the Outstanding Volunteer Staff Member Award was presented to Legal Practice Assistant Lynn Howell Davis, and the Outstanding Pro Bono Team Project Award was given to MVA’s Landlord Tenant Pro Bono Project.

The annual Sally & Bill Van Allen Public Service Luncheon celebrates the many public service and pro bono hours that MVA attorneys, staff and community partners have donated over the course of the previous year.  In 2013, MVA attorneys and staff collectively donated more than 10,000 pro bono and public service hours.  The Sally & Bill Van Allen Public Service Award, which bears the name of two revered members of the Moore & Van Allen family, is presented internally to recognize one individual’s superior commitment to public service.  The Van Allen’s trail-blazing commitment to the good of the community continues to inspire Firm pro bono and public service efforts today. 

“Thank you to the Firm for including me in this incredible tradition,” Clay stated upon accepting the award, which was presented by Litigation Member Valecia McDowell.  “When I was interviewing with firms during law school, MVA’s commitment to using its resources for the betterment of the community stood out in contrast to the other firms I interviewed with.  MVA wasn’t just talking about doing good— the people at MVA were actually doing it.  They were walking the walk.”

It was not long before Clay was also walking the walk at MVA.  Clay, who practices in the Firm’s Litigation group, performs pro bono work on behalf of victims of domestic violence and indigent clients in landlord/tenant cases.  She also serves on behalf of North Carolina’s food-insecure populations, having just completed a two-year turn as co-chair of the North Carolina Legal Feeding Frenzy for the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the North Carolina Bar Association.  Under her leadership, the Frenzy raised more than 500,000 pounds of food – the equivalent of more than 430,000 meals – for food-insecure residents throughout the state.  Clay received the Safe Alliance Commitment to Justice Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014, for her involvement in MVA’s Domestic Violence Project.  In 2013, she was selected by the Firm’s Litigation co-heads to participate in a six-month secondment program with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, where she served as an assistant district attorney.

“To me, a citizen lawyer advocates for others just by doing,” Clay remarked.  “When I arrived to the Firm, I realized I could contribute even by doing just one thing.” 

Legal Practice Assistant Lynn Howell Davis received the Outstanding Volunteer Staff Member Award for leading the public service efforts related to Safe Alliance’s non-legal needs.  Davis worked to fund and furnish the Sally Van Allen bedroom at the new domestic violence shelter in late 2012, and has recruited and managed a group of volunteers to prepare and serve lunch for shelter residents on a quarterly basis.  In early 2014, Davis recruited MVA volunteers from the Firm’s human resources, accounting and IT departments to present a “Workforce Ready” program for the shelter residents.  The program provided attendees with resume building tips, personal financial best practices, and internet safety tools and techniques.

Litigation Member George Hanna accepted the Outstanding Pro Bono Team Project Award on behalf of MVA’s Landlord Tenant Pro Bono Project team.  The team, led by Litigation Member John Fagg, was recognized for providing pro bono legal counsel to tenants in the community, helping them to avoid homelessness, to secure safe, habitable homes, and to receive repairs and/or financial compensation from their landlords.  The Landlord Tenant Project works in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

MVA Public Service Committee Chairman and Litigation Member Brian Heslin gave the opening remarks at the luncheon, and provided a recap of the Firm’s 2013 pro bono and public service statistics, which are also detailed in the Public Service Committee’s 2014 Annual Report.  Frank Spencer, president and CEO of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church, served as the keynote speaker.  The event was held at the Hilton Center City.  Photos can be seen here.