Minneapolis: -- Each year, the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) recognizes three attorneys who have made a significant contribution through pro bono service. These awards are presented in recognition of the time, knowledge, and devotion given utilizing legal skills for the good of our community. The Pro Bono Publico awards were presented at the 30th annual Bar Benefit on Tuesday, March 9, where family, friends, and colleagues joined together to celebrate, honor, and support the ideals of services represented by these individuals. Attorneys Mark Carter, Nicole Moen, and Nancy McLean were recognized for their commitment to pro bono service.
Three distinct award categories honor the dedication of volunteer services provided by Hennepin County lawyers. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual for career-long volunteer work on behalf of the community and the two Excellence Awards recognize current or recent excellence in service by individuals–one from the private sector and one from the public/judicial sector.
Mark Carter of Carter Legal Services, recipient of The Distinguished Service Award, has worked on over 645 cases for the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) that nominated him for the award. He has been an outstanding volunteer for VLN for 27 years in the area of family, an area where the need perennially overwhelms the number of available attorneys. Carter has provided full representation for clients in all areas of family law and also bankruptcy filings, and is a volunteer who is often called upon when there is a particularly difficult case to place.
Carter served as the chair of the VLN Board of Directors in 1992, and has continued on the board on a rotating basis ever since. He has chaired the VLN Family Law Committee for many years, wrestling with issues such as how best to recruit volunteers and to serve clients.
Nicole Moen, with the Fredrikson & Byron firm, has been an enthusiastic advocate for individuals who face barriers to justice since her first year with the firm in 2003. She received the Private Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. She has volunteered nearly 1600 hours since joining the firm and has averaged well over 100 hours a year throughout her law career.
Moen volunteers at legal clinics, giving advice and brief service in the areas of consumer credit, housing, and family law. She has also provided full representation to clients, recently securing custody for foster parents in a highly-emotional and strongly-contested adoption. Moen has also assisted nonprofit organizations on issues as diverse as securing the right of churches to ban guns on their premises, to upholding a voter referendum on instant runoff voting. Moen has also worked tirelessly on behalf of an Algerian man detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Nancy McLean received the Public/Judicial Sector Pro Bono Excellence Award. McLean, of the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney, has—for over 15 years—organized public lawyers and staff to purchase, cook, and serve a meal every other month at Holy Rosary Church in Minneapolis, and this past year established a legal advice clinic there also. McLean has co-chaired the Public Law Section’s Task Force on Pro Bono Services at the state bar association, and helped draft a public lawyer’s pro bono policy, which has already been adopted by two other large public law offices. She helps provide legal service to seniors through her presentations on identify theft, and has recently partnered with her Vietnamese-speaking law clerk to provide this information in Vietnamese.
In addition, McLean has also participated in mock trials with the Girl Scouts, organized an Adopt-a-Family program during the holidays, and assisted with Habitat for Humanity.
The HCBA is proud to recognize these members, each highly deserving of honor, as individuals who rise to the call and volunteer their time and knowledge for the benefit of our community. The HCBA also proudly supports legal access for all through a variety of direct service programs as well as through significant grants made to legal service providers by the Hennepin County Bar Foundation.
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