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Published on May 23rd, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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SC Bar recognizes Pro Bono Award winners

Pictured Tina Cundari

COLUMBIA, S.C. —The SC Bar honored Laura Evans of Charleston and Tina Cundari of Columbia as the 2016 Pro Bono Award recipients for their outstanding commitment to enhancing the lives of others by volunteering legal services to South Carolina’s low income communities. The awards were presented recently at the SC Bar Conference Center.

About Tina Cundari

Tina Cundari of Sowell Gray Stepp & Laffitte, LLC was recognized for her active pro bono practice, representing impoverished clients in consumer, landlord-tenant, family and criminal law cases. She introduced Sowell Gray to the S.C. Appellate Practice Project, chaired the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and was a panelist at the Pro Bono Summit hosted by the S.C. Supreme Court and the S.C. Access to Justice Commission.

In her nomination packet, Cundari was recognized by her peers for her pro bono work on more than eight cases, including three appeals. Cundari was also recognized for providing legal services for residents of the Hannah House, a shelter for homeless women and their children, and for facilitating a partnership between Sowell Gray and Lawyers 4 Vets, which connects low income and homeless veterans with attorneys.

“Tina’s commitment to pro bono work is remarkable not only because of the number of cases she has handled, but also the consistency with which she has incorporated pro bono work into her practice,” said Sowell Gray partner Thornwell (Biff) Sowell. “She has singularly made pro bono a priority at Sowell Gray through her example and her leadership.”

Cundari earned her bachelor’s degree in English from College of Charleston in 1996 and her Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. Prior to joining Sowell Gray, Cundari was a law clerk for the Hon. Jean Hoefer Toal and taught legal writing at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

About Laura Evans

Laura Evans, a partner of Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP was recognized for coordinating a group of pro bono volunteers on behalf of the Charleston County Bar Association to assist the victims’ families and survivors of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting. These volunteers provided a myriad of legal services in the areas of probate and estate, family, insurance, media and intellectual property law. Several volunteer attorneys continue to work with the victims’ families to set up foundations to honor their loved ones. Evans individually donated approximately 350 hours of her own time to the project. With other volunteers, she developed the allocation formula for the City of Charleston’s Hope Fund and then worked to distribute the funds to the victims’ families and survivors, serving as the primary link between the families and survivors and the City.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said, “(Their work) showed what the legal profession can do when faced with an unspeakable crime … how they can come forward with their skills, ability to communicate, genuine caring and make such a huge difference.”

“Within days of the heartbreaking event, Laura stepped forward and voluntarily coordinated attorneys in the Charleston County Bar Association to assist relatives of the victims with legal services that included probate and custody cases,” said Susan Herdina, an attorney with the City of Charleston. Those volunteers have collectively donated over 1200 hours of pro bono time.

“The city never imagined it would be in the place it was on and after June 18, 2015,” said Herdina. “It’s clear to me that neither the city nor the beneficiaries of the Hope Fund would have made it through this journey without Laura’s time and incredibly solid legal advice at every step.”

Evans earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1991 and her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1994. Prior to joining Smith Moore Leatherwood, Evans served as in-house counsel for Roper St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston.

About the South Carolina Bar:

The SC Bar, which has a membership of more than 15,000 lawyers, is dedicated to advancing justice, professionalism and understanding of the law.

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