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Greensboro's Atticus Finch

One night last month, members of the Greensboro, N.C., Bar Association gathered for the organization’s annual meeting and honored 18 of their group with induction into the Herb Falk Society. Membership in the society is based on the amount of pro bono work that the attorneys have done during the previous year. Anyone who has 75 hours or more is eligible to become a member.

It’s a remarkable tribute to late Washington and Lee alumnus Herb Falk, a history major and ZBT member from the Class of 1953. A Greensboro attorney until his death in 2002, Herb was known for taking on pro bono cases. In a column in the Greensboro News & Record (unfortunately, a subscription is required), writer Jere Rowe recounts a story of how Herb once worked 303 hours for free to help a four-year-old child receive Social Security benefits after the death of his father. At the time, Herb had told the Greensboro News-Record that it was the case he would remember most when he was lying on his deathbed looking back over his life. The News and Record’s Rowe dubbed Herb Greensboro’s Atticus Finch because of his unflinching integrity.

But it was not just his own volunteer work that made Herb special. He also came up with a novel idea to promote volunteer work by others while he was president of the Greensboro Bar Association. He decided to call all seven North Carolina Supreme Court justices to see if they would help build a home for a family in need. The justices agreed. Since then, lawyers in Greensboro continue to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

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