Black Mountain attorney takes top pro bono honors

Beth Walton
The Asheville Citizen-Times

Bryant Webster had no idea he had donated more than 1,300 pro bono hours when he was honored by the state bar association in June. He just thought he was doing his job.

Lawyers have an ethical obligation to give back, said the Black Mountain civil litigator who was awarded the North Carolina Bar Association’s 2015 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Award on June 19.

“We have been given an opportunity to make a very handsome living that a lot of people don’t have access to,” said Webster. “When you are given an opportunity like that, it is incumbent to help folks who can’t always help themselves.”

Webster, 45, practices law at Stone and Christy P.A. in Black Mountain. He has been volunteering with Pisgah Legal Services’ Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyers Program since 1997.

Pisgah Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm providing free civil legal aid to low-income people to help them meet their basic needs, such as protection from domestic violence, avoiding homelessness, accessing health care and finding employment.

Over the past 17 years, Webster has provided more than 1,300 hours of pro bono service in 605 cases. In 2014 alone, Webster volunteered 228 hours of his time and expertise.

“People who are low-income have a huge array of legal issues. Their legal issues tend to be worse and harder to deal with than people with money,” said Webster. “It’s almost like the system is stacked against them.”

Webster’s professional practice focuses mostly on land litigation and collections. With Pisgah Legal, he often finds himself helping people with everything from wills and contracts to problems with credit card debt.

He said many of his pro bono clients lack the financial literacy to understand how to manage their debt and deal with predatory lenders.