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 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/.

Justice for Lake Arbor Tenants Subjected to Dangerous Housing Conditions

The NC Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the former owners and property managers on behalf of class of Lake Arbor tenants who had paid rent during periods of time when serious Housing Code violations were left unrepaired in their units.

To read the Lake Arbor settlement agreement click here.

If you believe you are entitled to funds from the Lake Arbor settlement, please fill out this online form (English) (Spanish) or leave a voicemail at 704 376-1600 ext. 524.

Si usted piensa que tiene derecho a recibir fondos del avenimiento de Lake Arbor, por favor llene este formulario en línea (inglés)(español).

Charlotte (Dec. 9, 2020) – The former owners and managers of west Charlotte’s Lake Arbor Apartments agreed to pay $547,500, to settle litigation brought on behalf of a class of former tenants. The Charlotte Housing Inspector found the class of former tenants’ apartments to have dangerous conditions.

The North Carolina Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Robinson Bradshaw represented plaintiffs in the case against Lake Arbor Dean TIC LLC and Lake Arbor 80M TIC, LLC, as well as former property managers Broad Management Group, LLC and Wellington Advisors, LLC. The state Superior Court complaint alleged that the former Lake Arbor owners and property managers violated Charlotte’s Housing Code and North Carolina consumer protection laws between 2015 and 2019 when they improperly sought and collected rent from tenants living in Lake Arbor apartments found to have dangerous conditions. The complaint alleged that the Lake Arbor Apartments owners’ and property managers’ actions violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Unfair Debt Collections Act, and Residential Rental Agreements Act. The defendants denied those allegations and claimed that they did nothing wrong or illegal.

“These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious safety problems in tenants’ units, as found by the City,” said former Lake Arbor tenant and class plaintiff Serita Russell. “It’s about time they were called to account. I’m glad the lawsuit was settled, and I hope other landlords take this as a lesson on what happens when a landlord cares more about making money than the safety of its tenants.”

After the filing, Lake Arbor evicted all tenants rather than complete repairs. The defendants then sold the property to New York-based URS Capital Partners in April. This sequence of events exposed how dire Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis has become, leaving tenants vulnerable to displacement and homelessness just for exercising their rights to a safe and habitable place to live.

An important consequence of the litigation is that landlords in Charlotte will think twice about allowing dangerous conditions to persist at their properties.

“Landlords and property managers are legally obligated to keep units in a fit and habitable condition and make timely repairs of all violations noted by local housing inspectors,” said Julian Wright, an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. “Continuing to collect rent while failing to make such repairs can itself violate the law, subjecting the landlords to the possibility of treble damages and attorneys’ fees.”

The North Carolina Justice Center is one of the state’s preeminent voices for economic and social justice. As a leading progressive research and advocacy organization, its mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services, and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security. For more information, visit www.ncjustice.org

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) provides expert legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it, but desperately need it, something the organization has been doing since its inception in 1967. The Advocacy Center serves more than 3,500 families each year who are facing a crisis of safety, shelter, health or income. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides committed advocacy work on behalf of clients, resulting in policy changes at the local and national level to impact a greater number of people. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is a champion for those in need, ensuring their safety, economic security and family stability. For more information, visit charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

Robinson Bradshaw is a Carolinas-based corporate law firm celebrating 60 years of providing comprehensive legal services to our clients. We represent businesses across the country ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Visit robinsonbradshaw.com for more information

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

Katten Attorney Joins Advocacy Center to Support Community Redevelopment

Katten Muchin Roseman LLP has allowed one of its attorneys to join the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s staff this summer to support efforts to provide stability for families in the Charlotte metro region.

Max Swindle joined Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy May 26, as part of a three-month attorney loan program. Swindle, a real estate attorney specializing in commercial real estate finance, is working with the Advocacy Center’s Consumer Protection Program to help people clean up their criminal records and get drivers licenses restored.

For the more than 2 million North Carolinians with a criminal record, finding jobs, housing and opportunity is an uphill battle. And one in seven N.C. adults has a suspended drivers license, leaving them unable to effectively get to work, school or run everyday errands without a car.

These issues disproportionately impact people based on income and race, which is why the Advocacy Center’s Community Redevelopment Project seeks to eliminate these barriers to opportunity and promote equity in our community.

“I am so excited to have Max join us to do this important work,” said attorney Lashieka Hardin, who manages the Community Redevelopment Project. “I look forward to seeing all the great things we do together as team over the next few months.”

Adding a full-time attorney to focus on these two practice areas is an innovative approach that enables the Advocacy Center to serve more people in need, provide stability and promote economic opportunity.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Diana Godoy interviewed Swindle during his first week on the job. Learn a bit more about him in his own words:

About Max Swindle …

“I grew up in North Carolina, went to UNC-Chapel Hill for undergrad and then stayed there for law school. I graduated law school in 2017, and I moved out to Denver, Colorado to work. I was there until December 2018. And then my wife , who I met in law school, and I moved back to North Carolina. She’s originally from Charlotte. I’m from Winston-Salem. So, we just decided to move home.”

What he does at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP …

“Since graduating law school, I have been working as an attorney for Katten Muchin Rosenman and their real estate finance practice group. I represent lenders, different commercial banks and investment groups and originating new loans for the commercial mortgage backed securities market.”

Why he came to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy …

“With the COVID-19 outbreak, my practice area has been very slow the last few months, really ever since March. Our office managing partner and our deputy general counsel had been in contact with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy to see if they could use some help over the next few months with the expunction and driver’s license restoration programs.

They asked me if [joining the Advocacy Center staff] was something I was interested in. And I said, ‘Yeah, that’ll be great.’ I just hope I can pitch in and pick up on these new areas of practice as quickly as I can to be of use.”

What he will be doing …

“For this first week, I’ve been working on a few cases in-house with Lashieka Hardin to kind of get my feet on the ground, kind of understanding how this all works.

And then I believe starting next week, I’m going to start helping with a new driver’s license restoration project. We look at clients that have already been in contact with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and they have either some misdemeanor or felony charges on their record that could be eligible to be removed if they meet certain criteria. We review those, figure out what we can do, and we file petitions with the different [N.C.] counties where those charges show up.

We hope to get these charges off people’s records because having different charges listed can hinder people getting housing, getting jobs, getting loans, things like that. And I think that’ll continue throughout the summer. I think some of it will be  helping coordinate clinics and with outside pro bono attorneys, kind of helping them handle different client interactions.”

What he’s looking forward to …

“Just getting to interact with a great group of attorneys who are very, very good at what they do. I’ve been a part of the few video meetings this first week with the Consumer Protection group. Everyone’s super nice, super passionate about what they’re doing. The work is great: helping people with complex problems that that can really affect your everyday life.

It’s about just getting to work with such great people and give back to the community. I don’t have as much time as I would like to do this work in my normal firm job, so this has been a great opportunity.”

What he hopes to get out of this experience …

“I’m going to try and just absorb as much information as I can so that hopefully when these few months are over, I’ll be able to maybe come back to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy as a pro bono attorney to help out with things like expunctions or maybe this driver’s license restoration project later on. I would like to stay involved. I’m just hoping to learn as much as I can so that I can continue to be necessary.”

Thank you to Katten for partnering with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy in our mission to pursue justice for those in need. We are glad to have Max on our team!

Meck Bar Recognizes Access to Justice Pro Bono Attorneys

The Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program is proud to recognize its 2020 recipients of the Mecklenburg County Bar’s pro bono awards.

The Mecklenburg County Bar recognized these committed individuals May 21, during its Annual Meeting, which was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These attorneys and advocates enable us to serve more people in need, to narrow Mecklenburg County’s justice gap, and to build a stronger, more just community for us all.

This year’s recipients include attorneys, advocates and firms supporting Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina through their joint pro bono program, as well as Council for Children’s Rights and the Mecklenburg County Bar.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy

Blas P. Arroyo,
Alston & Bird LLP

Blas P. Arroyo is a skilled advocate and outstanding mentor who is generous with his time and considerable expertise. As a part of his Senior Counsel status at Alston & Bird LLP, Arroyo has dedicated several hours each week to work with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy clients as part of the Consumer Protection Program. 

He has invested countless hours into Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s criminal records expunctions work, including reviewing records for hundreds of clients and serving as an expert at dozens of expunctions clinics since joining the organization in 2017.

In addition to helping with existing programs, Arroyo also connected Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and The Relatives and launched a partnership to help the teen and young-adult clients of The Relatives receive advice and representation on expunctions. He has also helped litigate several consumer-protection cases. Arroyo is always willing to take the extra time to mentor and share his advice and wisdom. He is incredibly talented and compassionate and has made a deep impact on the programs and clients at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

Emma C. Merritt,
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Emma C. Merritt has been a pro bono volunteer with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy since 2017, when she began serving clients with Medicaid and Social Security denials through the Medicaid Appeals Project at her firm, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. She has secured over $200,000 in benefits on behalf of clients through these cases.

While continuing these cases, Merritt added a major pro bono activity to her plate in 2018 when she joined Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Health Insurance Navigator Project as a healthcare “champion” leading volunteer efforts to support health insurance enrollment for Advocacy Center clients as part of the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership.

Merritt consistently approaches her role with enthusiasm and is always willing to give her time and resources. During her first year with the Navigator Project, Merritt was there to enroll clients in coverage all day on the last day of the 2018 Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment period—a day that is often long and busy for navigators. During the most recent open enrollment, Merritt helped with consumer appointments, check-ins at enrollment events, and enlisted her assistant to compile 1,000 healthcare information packets for consumers. We at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and our health access clients are fortunate to have Merritt on our team!

Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte

Paul R. Kinny

After a long career as a lawyer with Duke Energy, Paul R. Kinny spent 10 weeks volunteering with Legal Aid during his time off from his teaching position with Queens University last summer.  Although he is not licensed in North Carolina, Paul helped where he could on housing cases in numerous ways:  interviewing clients, negotiating with landlords, conducting research, and drafting pleadings and discovery.  Kinny has now been approved by the N.C. State Bar to represent clients in court and plans to continue his volunteer work with Legal Aid.  His dedication has resulted in better outcomes for many clients and eased the burden on Legal Aid’s housing attorneys.

Legal Aid is proud to recognize Moore & Van Allen, PLLC as this year’s recipient of the firm award for its work supporting access to housing.  Last year, 10 attorneys from Moore Van Allen volunteered to take on housing cases to protect tenants’ rights to decent housing.  Those attorneys spent a total of more than 300 hours working for those clients.  In addition, one of these volunteers continued to serve clients as one of three housing “champions” with the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership and placed dozens of housing cases with other pro bono attorneys at other firms in that role.

Council for Children’s Rights

Mandy Schuller was an obvious choice for this year’s pro bono award, as she is the epitome of a champion for Council for Children’s Rights. Schuller has been volunteering with CFCR in its Custody Advocacy Program for over 6 years, where she serves as a best interest attorney for children caught in the middle of high-conflict custody cases. In that time, she has successfully represented 14 children across 6 challenging, time-intensive cases.

Schuller has always gone above and beyond as a volunteer for our child-clients. If we have a difficult case that needs an experienced, dedicated, and passionate volunteer, we know we can always turn to her. For the last 3 years, Schuller, a member of Wells Fargo’s Legal Department, has been our point-person for the pro bono partnership between Wells Fargo and CFCR. She recruits and encourages talented Wells Fargo employees to volunteer with CFCR, and she is our liaison for matching up volunteers with children in need. We are so grateful to Mandy and all she does for CFCR, and we are so impressed that she does it all while being a busy lawyer and mom!

We are excited to announce Randi Guinn-Shirley as the recipient of this year’s pro bono award. Her passion to serve children and young adults is undeniable. Prior to relocating to Charlotte, she worked in New York representing children in matters involving custody and visitation, child protection, and juvenile delinquency to ensure their interests were protected and wishes expressed to the court. In January 2008, Guinn-Shirley and her family moved to Charlotte, and at that time she turned her focus on raising her children, one with special needs, and caring for her family.

When Guinn-Shirley reached out to Council for Children’s Rights about her interest in volunteering with the Special Education Advocacy for Kids (SpEAK) Volunteer Program, she seemed like a natural fit. She completely understood the need for students in foster care to have someone able and willing to make special education decisions on their behalf, especially for students who do not have anyone naturally involved in their life able to serve that role.

In May 2019, she was among the third group of volunteers to go through the SpEAK Volunteer Program training. Shortly thereafter, Guinn-Shirley was appointed to serve as the Special Education Decision Maker for a sibling group of seven, ranging from first grade to sixth grade. During this school year, she has dedicated countless hours (over 150!) to advocating for appropriate educational services for these seven students. She has become intimately involved, getting to know their schools, their teachers, their foster parents, their therapists, and most importantly these students. They have greatly benefited from her enthusiasm, commitment, and consistency. We are so grateful to Randi for her dedication and passion to this work!

Mecklenburg County Bar

Fitz Barringer is a partner at Robinson Bradshaw, where he plays an active role in promoting pro bono work within the firm.  In addition to coordinating a summer associate pro bono project in partnership with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Barringer also volunteers with Legal Aid of North Carolina on landlord-tenant matters.  His commitment to helping to serve the under served goes beyond the courtroom.  Barringer also volunteers his time advising the board of a preschool situated in a low-income area of Charlotte that offers tuition-free care and education.  In 2019 alone, Fitz reported 175 hours of pro bono work.  The Mecklenburg County Bar thanks you for setting the example and for your leadership in the community!

Lynna Moen of Moen Legal Counsel began her pro bono journey with Safe Alliance while still in law school.  She later became a Safe Alliance fellow and to this day continues to volunteer for Safe Alliance, representing domestic violence survivors.  She also volunteers with Moore & Van Allen’s Human Trafficking Project through the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Project, the Mecklenburg County Clerk’s Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and the U.S. State Department’s Child Abduction Project.  The Bar’s Pro Bono & Legal Recruitment Committee received an outpouring of heartfelt support for this nomination from both fellow Bar members and the leaders of the organizations with whom she volunteers. Congratulations, Lynna. The Bar and the community are lucky to have you in our midst!

Congratulations to the 2020 recipients of the Mecklenburg County Bar Pro Bono Awards!

Mecklenburg County Bar 2020 Pro Bono Award Winners