MCB Pro Bono Volunteer Spotlight

Denise L. Presley

 

Denise L. Presley started her legal career in Boston where she developed a strong belief in providing pro bono services to people and organizations that need but cannot afford a lawyer.  She arrived in North Carolina with a predisposition to do pro bono work and started working with nonprofits as part of the MCB Nonprofits and Client Pro Bono Committee.  Her thoughtfulness with each client is evident in her work and she continues to go above and beyond in each case she takes on.

  

MCB VLP:  Current Employer / number of years with current employer?

DP:  Presley Law, PLLC / 2 years

 

MCB VLP:  Area of Practice / Expertise?

DP:  Commercial Real Estate

 

MCB VLP:  Law School / Law School Graduation Year?

DP:  Vermont Law School / 2001

 

MCB VLP:  What is a typical case like with the MCB Nonprofits and Client Pro Bono Committee? 

DP:  Right now, I'm working with the Derita Athletic Association, Inc., a nonprofit started over 50 years ago to provide memorable sports experiences for at-risk children that also supports academic achievement and the development of lifelong social skills. In addition to peer tutoring, the organization's volunteers coach baseball, football, basketball and cheerleading teams who compete with other sports programs around the state. The Association also provides programs that emphasize reading and the development of public speaking skills. I help provide legal services and counsel in connection with some of the board's organizational challenges. One of its biggest challenges is attracting new board members who can bring broader skill sets such as accounting, marketing and academics.

 

MCB VLP:  How many pro bono cases do you typically handle at one time?

DP:  I typically only carry one MCB case at a time.

 

MCB VLP:  How do you prepare for handling such cases?

DP:  I begin the representation by ensuring that the client clearly understands my role, the scope of my representation and what I need from them to do the best job I can. Sadly, some people don't value what they don't pay for, so I inform clients that I am waiving my hourly rate at the request of MCB and that there is no shortage of requests for pro bono referrals. As a result, I've found clients to be pretty cooperative and have had good outcomes.

 

 

MCB VLP:  What is the best advice youve received during your legal career?

DP:  There is simply no substitute for being prepared, communicating with your clients and protecting them - sometimes from themselves. As a litigator I've never lost a case. Not because I'm that smart, but because I do the work and never waste a judge's time. I think cases and motions should be thoroughly researched and all assertions should be backed up with evidence. In other words, give the judge everything (s)he needs to rule in your client's favor, and never take a case to court if your client's story doesn't meet the laugh test. Similarly, on transactional matters, work hard to take good care of your clients, treat everyone involved in the deal with respect (especially the non-lawyers), act in a way that fosters trust (others might not like you but they will trust you, if you do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it), and learn to beg and grovel on behalf of your clients so they don't have to. Also, be prepared to turn some work away because sometimes the misery or level of risk is not worth the fees. And finally, recognize how lucky you are to be a lawyer, and express gratitude by providing as much pro bono service as you can to those who arent as fortunate.

 

MCB VLP:  What advice would you give others?

DP:  I believe lawyers have a duty to protect and uphold the legal profession. We should take pro bono work seriously and require pro bono clients to do the same.

 


 

 

 
Wednesday April 23, 2014


 
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