NCBA Honors Robinson Bradshaw, Access to Justice Pro Bono Partner, with State-wide Award

Three huge projects. One unprecedented year. Despite the challenges and legal boom of 2020, Robinson Bradshaw took charge in their pro bono initiatives. For their unyielding commitment to pro bono service demonstrated by their undertaking of several complex and impactful projects during 2020, the North Carolina Bar Association granted Robinson Bradshaw  the Law Firm Pro Bono Award with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s nomination.  

In the first project, Robinson Bradshaw successfully litigated against the Lake Arbor Apartments with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the North Carolina Justice Center. Led by Julian Wright, the firm was instrumental in securing over $547,000 in settlement funds for tenants who were forced to pay rent for sub-standard housing. Wright says: “Where you live is important. For a lot of people, it’s the base of their life, it’s the place from where they go out into the world and do things they want to do, it’s where families are raised.”  

Overall, Julian Wright, Caroline Reinwald, Tami Redi, Adam Wehler, Adam Doerr, Andy Tarr, David Wright, Erik Zimmerman, Satyra Riggins and Jake Raynor donated 510 hours of legal services to the Lake Arbor case. Because of these advocates’ tireless commitment, class members were reimbursed for rent paid and compensated for the violation of their rights as tenants. Furthermore, Robinson Bradshaw set a strong precedent of preserving safe and affordable housing in the Charlotte area—a key issue in the region.   

Robinson Bradshaw’s second project creatively bolstered pro bono resources to represent The Advocacy Center in a real estate transaction to acquire our new building. The effort was led by Robinson Bradshaw’s Jane Ratteree, who focuses her pro bono initiatives on “helping organizations that in turn help individuals.” It is important for The Advocacy Center “to have a more dignified space. To show the clients that they are valued as clients, that they are coming to a place that’s going to treat them well and do a good job for them,” Ratteree says. Ratteree’s service will make a monumental impact on Charlotte’s legal services community, ensuring that The Advocacy Center’s staff have a modern office space for our expanding programs. Ratteree contributed nearly 250 hours to this effort. 

In the third project, Robinson Bradshaw, led by attorney Adam Doerr, successfully litigated on behalf of low-income families against the State of North Carolina to ensure eligible low-income families with children would receive $335 dollars in COVID-19 relief. Almost 25,000 low-income residents applied to receive the grant after a court ordered the State to re-open the deadline for low-income families to apply, resulting in over $5 million for those most in need. 

 “When we realized that many of the families most in need would miss out on these critical pandemic relief funds, we knew that the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy would have the expertise and resources to help us manage the kind of impact litigation and outreach campaign needed to ensure that these state grants actually got to the low-income families in our community,” said Doerr. 

He and the Robinson Bradshaw team were attentive, swift and impressive. However, Doerr’s commitment to the successful execution of the project  demonstrates his and the firm’s innovative approach to wholistic pro bono service. Doerr and team recognized that their litigative efforts were only part of the picture and did not rest until as many eligible families received the grant as possible, including negotiating contracts with a web development company and national call center provider to handle a statewide outreach effort. Overall, Robinson Bradshaw donated 581 hours to this effort. 

In addition to these impactful projects, Robinson Bradshaw as a firm has donated 1,293 hours of legal services to low-income clients through the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program over the years. Robinson Bradshaw routinely has several attorneys inducted to the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Honor Roll (requires either 20 hours of service or closure of three cases in the previous year) and the NC Pro Bono Honor Society (requires at least 50 hours of service in the previous year). Robinson Bradshaw attorneys undertake pro bono cases in areas such as wills, consumer protection, access to healthcare, immigration and others.  

Julian Wright, Jane Ratteree, Adam Doerr and Robinson Bradshaw’s commitment to serving low-income families in North Carolina through these complex projects demonstrates the firm’s innovative and comprehensive approach to pro bono service. They go beyond individual case referrals to ensure the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community has equal access to justice and civil legal aid. We applaud their creative leadership of non-traditional pro bono initiatives and hope that Robinson Bradshaw’s efforts inspire other firms in the area. Congratulations!  

Pro Bono Spotlight: Nicholas Lee

Nicholas Lee

Nicholas Lee is an associate at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP and a dedicated pro bono volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program.

Beginning in 2014, Nicholas has worked primarily in expunction cases, where his passion in pro bono work has developed.

“My motivation for becoming a lawyer was to have a greater impact on people’s lives,” Lee says. “I’m a firm believer in second chances. I’ve had lots of second chances, and I know how beneficial it can be to have charges expunged.”

Lee not only cherishes that impact he can have in dealing with expunction cases but also appreciates the bond that can be formed with clients. 

“For me, the best part of the process is the opportunity to call the client and say everything was granted,” he says. “For some clients it’s one charge and for others it’s 60-70. They’re always ecstatic.”

Through his experience in pro bono work, Lee encourages other attorneys to volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Charlotte Pro Bono Triage Partnership.

“Pro bono is important for our profession, and we have a responsibility to help whomever we can,” Lee says. “I would encourage people to jump in. CCLA has great resources. And once you’re willing to do it, we have the ability and resources to get you prepared.”

Thank you to Nicholas Lee for your commitment to pro bono work on behalf of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy!

Pro Bono Service Critical in Acquisition of The Advocacy Center’s New Building

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has purposefully been searching for a new building for over two years to accommodate our growing staff and programs. Jane Ratteree of Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson represented The Advocacy Center in a real estate transaction in which we acquired the building that will be our new home beginning later this year. Ratteree’s service and expertise were invaluable to The Advocacy Center as we navigated this search and transaction process. Because of Ratteree, our future modern office space will represent the respect and esteem that The Advocacy Center’s staff and clients deserve. 

Jane Ratteree

The building’s transaction was complex. The seller was an international organization with its headquarters in Florida and officers in Puerto Rico. In order to make the properties function as a coherent campus once legally separated, Ratteree negotiated and executed a reciprocal easement agreement with multiple provisions. The property also included an access easement on adjoining land that needed to be preserved for both properties.

Ratteree contributed over 200 hours of her time to this effort. Ratteree’s work will facilitate the creation of The Advocacy Center’s future home that will enable it to better serve the community for years to come.

Ratteree’s commitment to serving low-income families in North Carolina through these complex projects demonstrates the her innovative and comprehensive approach to pro bono service. She went above and beyond to ensure the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community has equal access to justice and civil legal aid. We applaud her creative leadership of non-traditional pro bono initiatives and hope that Ratteree and efforts inspire others.

Do you have an innovative pro bono project or idea that bolsters legal resources in creative ways? Contact Meghan Rankins at meghanr@charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

2021 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Download a copy of the 2021 Honor Roll

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2020.

Individuals with asterisks next to their names completed more than 50 hours of pro bono service in 2020.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

Stephen D. Allred

*Keith F. Atkinson

Katharine Yale Barnes

Robert Locke Beatty

Russel P. Blaise*

Linda Elise Boss

Demi Lorant Bostian*

Richard Christian Brose

Alesha Brown

Hugh Hagan Brown

Emily Lynn Cantrell

Jules Wesley Carter*

Diana C. Castro*

Avery Devin Catlin

Joy McMurry Chappell

Katherine Susie Clarke

Amanda Marie Colley

David A. Concha*

Richar H. Conner III*

G. Lee Cory Jr.*

Carly Michelle Couch*

Matthew H. Crow*

Heather W. Culp*

Kevin L. Denny

Adam Karl Doerr*

W. Scott Dove

Addison Walker Dufour

Anastasia Elizabeth Fanning

Richard L. Farley

Walter D. Fisher Jr.*

Jacob Richard Franchek*

Jasmine Kelly Gardner

Edward Staples Garrett*

Matille Clark Gibbons

Christ K. Glista*

Jeffre C. Grady*

Stephanie E. Greer Fulcher

George V. Hanna III

James T. Hedrick Jr.

William Robinson Heroy*

Karen Marie Hinkley*

Travis Styres Hinman

Thomas G. Hooper

Rebecca Joan Horton

Brett Alan Hubler

Alexis Marie Iffert

David H. Jones

Sarah B. Kemble

Mark W. Kinghorn*

Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel*

Jonathan C. Krisko

Jodie H. Lawson*

Emily H. Leazer

Nicholas Haynes Lee

Antone J. Little*

Lauren Elizabeth Lowry

Dana C. Lumsden

Jonathan Adam Martin

Hilary Renee Levine May

William C. Mayberry

Lauren Nicole McHale*

Thomas E. McNeill*

Emma Claire Merritt

Samuel Clinton Merritt*

Timoth Misner*

Elizabeth C. Murphy

Sara Elizabeth Ohlman

Fern A. Paterson

Kim Brett Perez

Kathleen Elizabeth Perkins

Benjam M. Petitto*

Benjamin Scott Pleune

Yesenia Polanco-Galdamez*

Elham Rabiei*

Jane Rattaree*

Claire J. Rauscher

Marla Tun Reschly

Etheridge Brittin Ricks*

Carlo L. Rodes

Robert J. Roth*

Brian Michael Rowlson

Lee Kimball Royster

Brett Michael Shockley

Ronald J. Shook

Courtney Crook Shytle

John N. Suhr Jr.

Nadira Aisha Swinton

Daniel Lee Tedrick*

Lauren Tonon

Nicholas Evan Tosco

Leslie Campbell Tucker III

Ann Lee Warren

R. Kent Warren

Sara Page Waugh

Brian Marlowe Weynand

Abigail Forrister Williams

Joseph Miles Wobbleton

Fred M. Wood Jr.

Karlee Nicole Wroblewski

Julian H. Wright Jr.*

Erik R. Zimmerman*

North Carolina attorney volunteers!

Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit ncprobono.org/volunteer/ to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Learn more and report your hours at https://ncprobono.org/report/.

Celebrate Pro Bono Week October 25th-31st, 2020

We have to shout it from the rooftops. Our Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program enables Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina–Charlotte to have an immense impact on our society, narrow Mecklenburg County’s justice gap, and to build a stronger, more just community for us all.

THANK YOU!

Locally and Nationally Recognized Volunteers and Programs

We recognized nearly 100 volunteer attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service in the last year. From executing wills to helping immigrant children, these attorneys are dedicated to access to justice in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and beyond.

Graphic of Mecklenburg County pro bono award recipients including head shots of Paul Kinny, Emma Merrit, and Blas Arroyo
Mecklenburg Bar Pro Bono Award Recipients

Of these attorneys, several were recognized for their commitment to pro bono by the Mecklenburg Bar. Blas P. Arroyo, senior counsel at Alston & Bird LLP, and Emma Merritt, attorney with Hunton Andrews and Kurth LLP, received this accolade for their respective work on criminal record expunctions and medicaid advocacy with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. Paul Kinny, a long term attorney with Duke Energy, spent ten weeks assisting Legal Aid of NC–Charlotte with housing cases. Moore & Van Allen PLLC received the firm award for their dedication of over 300 hours of representation in landlord-tenant cases. Learn more about those recognized here.

Finally, the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership received two awards from the North Carolina Bar Association and the Pro Bono Institute this year for its innovative approach to engaging local attorneys with and training them in six of the most pressing legal issues affecting Mecklenburg County: human trafficking, housing, social security benefits, driver’s license restoration, criminal record expunctions, and affordable healthcare. This year we trained over 200 attorneys and advocates to volunteer with our programs through the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership.

Meet Heryka Knoespel and Elizabeth Murphy: Learn their “Why”

Sometimes the best part about being an attorney is helping people in ways they never expected. Attorney Heryka Knoespel gives a great example of this when she talks about how she helped someone not only get justice but improve his life.
Attorney Elizabeth Murphy tells us about her experience as a pro bono attorney at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. For Elizabeth, the support she has received from staff and the gratitude she receives from clients makes the pro bono work priceless. Watch Elizabeth explain how she used her skills to help a little girl from South America stay in the United States where she had more opportunity.

Learn more about the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners program

2020 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Download a copy of the Pro Bono Honor Roll 2020

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2019.

Individuals with asterisks next to their names completed more than 50 hours of pro bono service in 2019.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

Alexander Abramovich *
Jonathan T. Adams
John Huske Anderson, Jr.
Blas P. Arroyo
Andrew D. Atkins
Meredith W. Barnette
Fitz Barringer *
R. Locke Beatty
Tiffany Marie Burba
William M. Butler
Avery Devin Catlin
Robert Payne Cave, Jr.
Geard M. Chapman *
Amanda M. Colley
Richard H. Connor III
G. Lee Cory, Jr.
Adam Sterling Coto
Robert A. Cox, Jr. *
Marcus H. Crow
Josef C. Culik
Benjamin Charles DeCelle
Kevin L. Denny
J. Robert Duncan
Christopher J. Fernandez
Walter D. Fisher, Jr.
Jacob Richard Franchek
Victoria S. Gonzalez *
Stephanie E. Greer-Fulcher
Ariel E. Harris
Abigail W. Henderson
Tanielle D. Henriques *
Mark A. Hiller*

Travis Styres Hinman
Brett Alan Hubler
William R. Hummel
David H. Jones
Stuart Manly Jones, Jr.
Richard H. Kim
Mark W. Kinghorn *
Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel
Jill R. Lanois
Nicholas H. Lee
Ryan W. Lifland
Carlos Andres Lopez
Kyle Joseph Luebke
Aubrey H. McEachern
Thomas E. McNeill *
T. Richmond McPherson, III
Emma Claire Merritt *
Graham Strowd Miller
Eric William Mills
Joseph V. Moreno
Elizabeth A. Murphy
Sarah N. Negus
Christiane Nolton
Nancy Black Norelli
Paul J. Osowski *
Shaun F. Pacious
Andrew R. Parrish
Fern A. Paterson
Emily C. Pera
Kim Brett Perez
Kathleen Elizabeth Perkins *

Henry N. Pharr III *
Amanda Katherine Reasoner*
Alice Carmichael Richey
Paul J. Osowski
Patrick L. Ridinger
Susan Courtright Rodriguez *
Melissa A. Romanzo *
Robert J. Roth
Evan M. Sauda
Jason Schubert
Brett Michael Shockley *
Adam G. Smith
Wendy L. Spanbauer
Lisa Sperber
Paul A. Steffens
W. Todd Stilerman
Curtis Charles Strubinger
Mary Katherine Stukes
Nadira Aisha Swinton
Rachel Ann Temple
Catherine E. Thompson
Lauren Tonon
Alyson Grossman Traw
Leslie Campbell Tucker III
Charles Phillip Wells
Nathan A. White *
Abigail Forrister Williams
Seaira R. Wolf *
Fred M. Wood, Jr. *
Gabriel Wright

North Carolina attorney volunteers!

Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit ncprobono.org/volunteer/ to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Learn more at ncprobono.org.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Emma Merritt

Emma Merritt

Emma Merritt is an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP and a dedicated pro bono volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program.

Having done pro bono work since she became an attorney, Merritt brought her commitment to service to the Charlotte community. She took her first pro bono case in January of 2017.

“It is crucial for those of us with the ability to help to do so,” Merritt says. “I am grateful that my law firm strongly values pro bono work as well.”

Merritt routinely handles appeals cases for denials of Medicaid for the Disabled (MAD) and Social Security Disability benefits (SSD). She recalls one case where she assisted a young woman with a debilitating mental illness. Merritt successfully appealed the denial of her Social Security Disability benefits, enabling her to continue to pay for her medical and living expenses.

Not only does Merritt value her pro bono work as a continuous learning opportunity, tackling all kinds of difficult cases, she enjoys getting to know her individual pro bono clients” and helping them obtain favorable outcomes.

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that I have made a real difference in a person’s life by helping him or her through a difficult situation,” Merritt says.

Merritt’s commitment to pro bono service, especially with civil legal issues involving healthcare access, has compelled her to encourage others to volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy through the Charlotte Pro Bono Triage Partnership.

Charlotte Triage is a partnership of corporate and private practice lawyers volunteering to support the area’s two legal service organizations, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina, in their legal work to serve more people in need of legal assistance.

Healthcare Champions for the Charlotte Pro Bono Triage Partnership

Merrit is beginning her second year serving as a Healthcare Champion through Charlotte Triage, where she recruits, organizes, and trains volunteers to assist Charlotte residents in need of help understanding affordable healthcare options with the Advocacy Center’s Health Insurance Navigator Project.

As part of this work, Merritt has completed training to be a Certified Health Insurance Navigator, and she will serve as an Open Enrollment Volunteer Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, with dozens of other volunteers in the community to ensure those who can be insured under the Affordable Care Act, have access to assistance that helps them make informed decisions about health coverage.

“Emma is enthusiastic about her role and always willing to provide her time and resources,” says Julieanne Taylor, attorney and health insurance navigator coordinator at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. “Last year, Emma was a superstar on the last day of Open Enrollment and stayed with us until the very end. The Navigator Project is so lucky to have Emma on our team!”

Thank-you Emma Merritt for your commitment to pro bono work on behalf of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy!