The Young Lawyers Division started off the 2014-2015 bar year by winning an ABA award. The YLD’s Bar Exam Committee Bar Exam Workshop and Tutoring Programs won the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s Service to the Public Award as the top pro bono project in the country in this category. Burlington attorney Rachel Blunk chaired the committee. As the North Carolina Bar Exam (given in February and July) weights the essays more heavily than the multistate, the programs focused on the essay portion of the exam.
The tutoring portion of the program matched lawyers with bar applicants, creating fifty-four tutoring pairs. Volunteers worked with bar applicants on essays. Specifically, volunteers and bar applicants reviewed essay structure and format in preparation for the North Carolina Bar Exam.
The Bar Exam Workshop was offered three times. Rachel Blunk ran the workshops. Two workshops were held at the Bar Center in Cary, and an additional workshop was added at Elon University School of Law. A total of ninety applicants participated in the seminars.
As in the tutoring portion, the workshops focused on structure, format and what to expect. The attendees had the opportunity to work through several past North Carolina Bar Exam questions in groups, guided by the instructor. In addition, attendees practiced outlining essays and discussed which strategies are and are not effective when answering essay questions.
The program culminated with “meet and greet” events after the final day of each bar exam. YLD volunteers braved the February cold and the July heat in order to provide test takers with a drink and a snack. For many this event was the first time they had direct contact with the NCBA and the YLD. Test takers are always very appreciative of the refreshments, and the thought behind them created positive feelings between the bar association and possible new NCBA YLD members.
Due to the success and reputation of the project, the YLD was asked to present the project at the YLD “Affiliate Showcase” in Portland in October. The Affiliate Showcase is reserved for projects that are models of what a successful project should be. Rachel Blunk and Michael Wells presented the project. This is not the first time the YLD has garnered such recognition, and, given the caliber of the projects and volunteers, it certainly will not be the last.