RALEIGH, N.C. — Matthew Leerberg, an attorney in Smith Moore Leatherwood's Raleigh office, recently received the firm's inaugural McNeill Smith Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award for his significant pro bono work in 2012.
The McNeill Smith Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award was created, as part of the firm's ongoing pro bono program, to honor an attorney for his or her pro bono service. Named for John McNeill Smith Jr., a long-standing attorney who practiced law for more than 50 years with the firm, the award recognizes an attorney who is dedicated to public service. Smith was well-known as an attorney who stood up for the rights of others, and the award recognizes other attorneys who uphold these same values.
Leerberg, the 2012 recipient of the McNeill Smith Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award, focuses his practice on appellate litigation as well as state and federal court litigation involving business and employment disputes. His most noteworthy pro bono case occurred last year when he and fellow appellate attorney Beth Scherer handled an appeal for their client before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, which reversed the Court of Appeals by a 7 to 0 vote. The court found that their client, a single mother and alleged bigamist, had a legal, monogamous marriage, which allowed her to seek alimony payments from her former spouse.
"Matt is incredibly deserving of the pro bono award as his work exemplifies the dedication to public service we encourage in all of our attorneys," said Tami McKnew, a member of the firm's pro bono committee. "We thank him for his diligence in his work and congratulate him on being the first recipient of the firm's McNeill Smith pro bono award."
Leerberg was selected by Law & Politics Magazine for inclusion in the 2012-2013 North Carolina's Super Lawyers' Rising Stars Editions in business litigation. He was also selected as one of Business North Carolina's Legal Elite in the Young Guns category for 2012 and 2013. Currently, he serves on the Appellate Rules Committee for the North Carolina Bar Association and is an adjunct professor at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University.
Leerberg received his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 2000. He received his juris doctor, with high honors, from the Duke University School of Law in 2006.
"It is incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to help someone so deserving and in need, and I am deeply honored to have received this award from the firm," said Leerberg. "I'm grateful for the support and encouragement the firm provides the attorneys in pursuing pro bono projects we are passionate about."