The North Carolina Bar Association has selected the Driver’s License Restoration Project, a joint venture between North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Law, as recipient of the 2011 Law Student Group Pro Bono Service Award. The award will be presented on Friday, June 24th during the NCBA annual meeting at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.
In July 2009, NCCU Law alumnus Jeff Nieman ’06 approached the NCCU Law Pro Bono Program with the idea for a student project to assist indigent North Carolinians caught up in the driving while license revoked (DWLR) spiral. The Project began that fall with trainings for students at NCCU and UNC Law Schools.
Students involved in the Project attend two training sessions in traffic law and learn how to obtain and analyze a driving record. They then work with volunteer attorneys to develop a plan to restore clients’ driving privileges. In the fall of 2009, 45 NCCU Law students and 21 UNC Law students completed the training. The first client counseling session was held in January 2010.
Client counseling sessions are held once a month on Saturdays, alternating between NCCU and UNC Law schools. During 2010, the Project held eight counseling sessions (four during the spring semester and four during the fall semester), assisting 108 individuals. Seventeen volunteer attorneys have participated in the project so far.
The Drivers’ License Restoration Project brings to bear the combined efforts of volunteer attorneys and students at two law schools to address an unmet need in the community. It is having an impact in the Durham and Orange county courts, where judges have begun referring DWLR defendants to the Project.