By Sidney Thomas
“There are a few reasons I commit to pro bono work. First, it can be a nice shift from the normal concerns over disputes about money. Second, if I can find a project that helps me grow my skills or better my understanding on a section of law, then it’s the best type of CLE. Third, it feels natural to me to do it.” Martin is a dedicated volunteer attorney, who enjoys volunteering his legal expertise and taking on challenging legal projects. He is a partner at Nelson, Mullins, Riley, and Scarborough LLP and is a board-certified appellate specialist who focuses on business and state constitutional litigation.
When asked about his involvement with a particular pro bono project, Martin said there are projects that have brought him satisfaction. The first project he talked about was a disaster relief clinic that was started in New Bern following Hurricane Florence which paired homeowners with attorneys to help them prepare their federal aid appeals. The clinic mainly served citizens of Eastern North Carolina. Another project Martin has been involved with is a Covid relief clinic. The clinic paired small business owners with an attorney to evaluate insurance and federal aid processes and provide legal advice on post-Covid business situations.
At times, Martin will take on an appeal through the pro bono appellate program. Previously, he was assigned a client who needed assistance with an appeal to determine whether the trial court correctly excluded evidence on the grounds that the foreign document was not an affidavit. It was his first livestreamed Supreme Court oral argument during Covid, and his client was not with him. His client watched the entire time and was proud to have Martin advocating for him. He then said that was all he could ask for. Martin said, “It made my month. We have a tendency to focus our normal practice on outcomes. He certainly wanted a specific one, which we ultimately did not get, but nonetheless saw the value in the way I tried to get him that result. Despite having many satisfied clients, like we all do, it still is rare to just have someone genuinely thank you for doing your best for him—regardless of the result.”
Martin is a member of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Sections and North Carolina Appellate Rules Committee. Additionally, he serves on his firm’s Pro Bono Committee. It goes without mentioning that his various efforts of volunteering have not gone unrecognized. Martin has been admitted into the North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society several times and received acknowledgment from his firm for his extensive hours of pro bono work.
Martin Warf: “Whether you focus on transactions or litigation or whatever walks in the door, there’s always room for a bit of work where we expect nothing in return, but nearly always receive some form of reward.”