On November 11th, Jennifer Lyday, an Attorney at Waldrep Wall Babcock & Bailey PLLC, received the 2022 Pro Bono Award for the Bankruptcy Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Jennifer has significant pro bono experience, particularly in helping domestic violence victims obtain 50-B protection orders while working with Legal Aid of North Carolina. She has also represented parents of children abducted and taken into the U.S. in Hague Convention cases, her work on which won her the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyer Pro Bono Award in 2013. In those cases, she represents foreign parents whose spouses have abducted children and brought them to the U.S. She still takes such cases, which often require her to speak Spanish to her pro bono clients. She also helped a victim of religious persecution in Burma obtain asylum in the U.S. In addition, from 2016 to 2022, she served on the board of directors for The Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina in several capacities including Chair, which provides a voice for vulnerable children in high-conflict custody and domestic violence cases by volunteering to be appointed guardian ad litem in such cases. Jennifer has also volunteered to be appointed guardian ad litem in those cases. Jennifer has also developed a partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Office such that her law firm will take on certain consumer bankruptcy cases on a pro bono basis.
Jennifer volunteered her services this year for the pro bono programs offered in the Middle District and Eastern District Bankruptcy Courts. The pro bono programs provide a volunteer attorney to assist certain unrepresented parties that are unable to employ an attorney on their own behalf (pro se) with adversary proceedings and certain contested matters.
On Friday, March 4, 2022, Jennifer participated in the 4ALL Statewide Service Day, an annual call-a-lawyer pro bono program that engages volunteer attorneys to provide free legal information to thousands of North Carolinians, from the mountains to the coast. 4ALL is the North Carolina Bar Foundation’s largest annual pro bono program. Jennifer volunteered to provide advice, information, and resources to callers seeking information regarding North Carolina-related legal matters.
Earlier this year, Jennifer assisted First Church of God in Christ in Winston-Salem in stopping the foreclosure of their church. They have owned their worship space property, which contains a building valued at almost $1 million, for 23 years. Like most commercial real estate owners, First Church had a five-year term on the loan that was secured by their church property. When the term ended in February 2022, the lender was not willing to work with First Church to extend the term or give them additional time to refinance the loan, despite having an excellent payment history and substantial equity in the property. Within a few months of the term due date, the lender filed a foreclosure action in Forsyth County. First Church initially contacted Jennifer to explore the possibility of filing bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure action. After determining that bankruptcy would not be the right fit in this situation and would be too costly, Jennifer and Diana Johnson (an Associate at Jennifer’s firm), along with the firm’s bankruptcy team, decided to assist the church pro bono to delay the foreclosure action long enough for First Church to find another lender to refinance the loan. Jennifer also assisted First Church in submitting documents to the new lender and in explaining the new loan terms. Eventually, First Church was able to secure a ten-year term with a new lender and was able to obtain additional funds to replace their existing air conditioning units. Jennifer also assisted in coordinating with attorney Patti Dobbins, of Patti D Dobbins Attorney at Law, PLLC, to do the refinance loan closing pro bono. Attorney Dobbins coordinated a closing date that was flexible for the First Church board, prepared the necessary closing documents, and filed all the necessary paperwork to complete the refinance. First Church was able to close on the new loan on August 25, 2022. After the new loan closed, the foreclosure action was dismissed, and First Church was no longer at risk of losing their church home of over 20 years. First Church Pastor Bernie Cundiff stated, “Jennifer, Diana, and the team at Waldrep Wall Babcock & Bailey PLLC went the extra mile for us. They helped us every step of the way with excellence, and it was truly ‘The Hand of the Lord’!” Lisa Lash, First Church Secretary, stated, “We have been extremely blessed to have worked with such an extraordinary team! Jennifer and Diana were truly engaged in every phase of the process. Equipped with all the knowledge necessary to complete a case such as ours, they guided us with professionalism and confidence – always there to support us with an eagerness to see us succeed. We will forever be grateful for their diligence, work ethic, and their sincere compassion for our church.”
In addition to her legal, professional pro bono volunteer services, Jennifer has served as Parish Council since 2019 for the church she attends, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, in Kernersville, North Carolina.
Jennifer also manages and coordinates all of the pro bono efforts at her law firm, and strongly encourages and supports the pro bono efforts of all of the firm’s attorneys.