Attorney Lori D. Thompson of Roanoke received the VBA's Roger D. Groot Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding pro bono and community service. The award was presented Jan. 22 at the VBA's Annual Meeting in Williamsburg.
Thompson has contributed 2,882 volunteer hours since 2005, established a pro bono committee while president of the Roanoke Bar Association and served as LeClairRyan’s first firmwide pro bono coordinator, drafting the firm’s policy to encourage pro bono participation in all offices across the country.
Harry M. “Pete” Johnson III, the 2015 president of the VBA, presented the award to Thompson, who just stepped down after a three-year term on the VBA Board of Governors. She serves on the VBA Pro Bono Council and the Virginia Access to Justice Commission’s Pro Bono Committee.
In 2002, she received the Blue Ridge Legal Services Pro Bono Award for the highest contribution of pro bono service hours in the Roanoke Valley. She was the Roanoke Bar Association’s first Young Lawyer of the Year, and has been named to Influential Women of Virginia and Leaders in the Law by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. She served as president of the Virginia Poverty Law Center from 2013-2015 and continues on its board of directors.
“But, like the former Groot Award winners, Lori is not only a leader in the bar, her firm and the Roanoke community. She handles real cases for real people who desperately need a lawyer but cannot afford one,” Johnson said.
“Lori recently logged over 150 hours handling a matter referred by the VBA’s Veterans Issues Task Force. She represented a veteran whose home was foreclosed on while he was on active duty in Afghanistan.” Collection efforts began. Wage garnishment placed the man’s security clearance – and therefore his job – in jeopardy.
“She eventually obtained a groundbreaking decision in his favor,” Johnson said. “Not only was it a blessing for her client, the seminal decision will also help countless other military personnel in similar predicaments.
The client, he added, received a full refund of all wages garnished and in a thank-you email, referred to Thompson as an angel. That, Johnson said, is what pro bono service is all about.