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!