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The scholarship fund was launched in 2014 to provide scholarships to pay the application fees for prosecutors, public defenders, and non-profit public interest lawyers who wish to become certified specialists. 

Application fees can be a barrier to applying for certification for attorneys who work in the public sector.  The fund will be administered by the North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation (NC LEAF).   This collaboration with NC LEAF furthers the mission of both NC LEAF[i] and the specialization program.  Assisting public interest lawyers to seek board certification recognizes commitment to service and will encourage these lawyers to continue to serve underrepresented citizens and the public and to improve their knowledge and skills in their practice areas. 

In recognition of her long service to the specialization program, the fund was named The Jeri L. Whitfield Legal Specialty Certification Scholarship Fund.  Jeri was a board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law from 2000 – 2020 and served as the board chair from 2006 – 2012.

Scholarship Program Success (since its inception in 2014):


Annual Average

2014-2023 Totals

Donations/Funding Received



Applications received from prosecutors, public defenders, and public interest lawyers



Confirmed as Board Certified Specialists




100% of donations are used to fund scholarships. Scholarship funding is limited, and applicants are encouraged to apply early. The annual deadline for application is May 1. Please contact Denise Mullen or 919-828-4620 x255 for additional information about the scholarship program.

See this link to make a donation.

[i]   As explained on the NC LEAF website ( 

NC LEAF helps North Carolina lawyers pursue careers in public service through educational loan repayment assistance for law school debt. Participating lawyers have accepted positions in which they aid the traditionally underserved populations of North Carolina. They do so at salaries which are often a fraction of those of their counterparts who work at private law firms. Yet they face the same educational debt as their colleagues who enter private practice.  A key component of NC LEAF is keeping well-trained attorneys in their jobs, which in turn helps the delivery of justice in the court system and ensures justice for the underrepresented citizens of our state.