Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year: Starlett Carter, Weil, Gotshal, & Manges, LLP
by Lincy Thomas
Starlett “Star” Carter, a fifth-year associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year at the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) awards ceremony on October 26, 2011.
At Weil, Gotshal, & Manges, LLP, Ms. Carter’s practice focuses on complex corporate and transactional matters, especially representation of private equity funds. According to co-workers at DVAP, while Ms. Carter enjoys complex legal issues in multi-billion dollar transactions, she derived a greater satisfaction from serving pro bono clients and the tremendous impact that she has had on their lives.
Over a two-year period, Ms. Carter contributed more than 700 hours of pro bono work. Moreover, in 2010, Ms. Carter served as Weil’s Lend-A-Lawyer to DVAP, an innovative program created by Weil to partner with DVAP to help the needy in the Dallas community. For three-and-a half months Ms. Carter was loaned to DVAP and was fully involved in DVAP work.
While at DVAP, she worked on 22 cases, ranging from contract disputes and landlord-tenant disputes, to divorces and name changes. One particular case involved a client who was faced with eviction and termination of her public benefits. Ms. Carter worked tirelessly to learn the intricacies of the applicable Section 8 law, and then succeeded in getting the court to dismiss the eviction claim.
She did not limit her pro bono efforts to DVAP cases. In 2008, through the national organization Immigration Equality, she represented a Kenyan gay-rights activist applying for asylum because he faced persecution and received death threats for publicly rallying for equal rights of homosexuals in his home country of Kenya. Ms. Carter said she can never forget the moment that she told him that his asylum case had been granted; the client immediately burst into tears because he knew, in a way, that Ms. Carter had saved his life.
The firm Weil, Gotshal, & Manges has also benefitted from Ms. Carter’s willingness to serve. She is a member of her firm’s Hiring Committee, Women @ Weil Affinity Group and Black Affinity Group. Ms. Carter earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School, and graduated summa cum laude from University of Texas at Austin where she completed her B.B.A in three years.
Ms. Carter is a member of the American Bar Association, the Dallas Bar Association and J.L. Turner Legal Association. She serves as chair of J.L. Turner’s corporate counsel section, and is actively involved in DBA’s Pro Bono Activities Committee and the Elder Law Committee of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. Ms. Carter has made use of every opportunity to promote pro bono legal services in several other ways as well. She has spoken at luncheons and various events encouraging her colleagues to take pro bono cases, and she has teamed with other attorneys new to pro bono work on cases in order to guide them through those cases. Ms. Carter has also helped staff the various DVAP neighborhood legal clinics. She has been involved in pro bono legal work since September 2006, when she first began her legal career at Weil.
Lincy Thomas is an attorney for American Dream Advocacy Group. She can be reached at email@example.com.