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!
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 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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
NCBA to Recognize Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership at Annual Meeting
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is proud to announce that
the North Carolina Bar Association has selected the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership
as the 2020 recipient of the Outstanding Pro Bono Collaborative Service Award.
This award is presented annually to a law firm, local,
district or statewide bar organization whose members have engaged in
significant and notable legal services or have contributed outstanding support for
pro bono legal services for low-income individuals.
The Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership collaborates with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte to bring together local law firms and legal departments and address some the most critical legal problems impacting economic mobility in our community.
At least 71 percent of low-income residents in the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg region experienced at least one civil legal problem in
the last year, but only 14 percent were able to get the legal help they needed.
The Triage project began two years ago to expand access to
legal assistance in key areas of need for our community. Through this project,
every client referred has received legal assistance.
Over the past year, attorneys have been working in the key
areas of eviction defense, healthcare access, cleaning up criminal records and
human trafficking—with the goal of increasing safety, financial security and
family stability for all in our community.
“This award recognizes a commendable team of dedicated
volunteers,” said Brandy Haynes, pro bono and community engagement specialist
for the Advocacy Center. “With Triage’s support, our organizations are able to
serve more of our neighbors with essential legal services.”
The N.C. Bar Association plans to recognize the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership during the NCBA Annual Meeting Awards Dinner June 25, in Charlotte.
Project partners include Bank of America, Duke Energy, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, K&L Gates, King & Spaulding, McGuireWoods, Moore & Van Allen, Parker Poe, Robinson Bradshaw and Wells Fargo.
Special thanks to the individual Triage champions leading each legal effort: Angela Zimmern and Todd Stillerman; Mark Kinghorn, Nader Raja and Brett Shockley for housing; Lara Nichols, Fern Patterson and Chris Fernandez for expunctions; John Grupp, Chelsea Corey and Emma Merritt for health care; and Sarah Byrne and Sakeenah Thompson for human trafficking.
2020 Pro Bono 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 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.
What friends are for …
Find yourself a friend
who will not only tell you about an amazing free estate planning service
available for Mecklenburg County residents over 60 but also go with you to have
your documents finalized!
That’s what Patricia C.
did for her friend, Patricia H. These two have known each other for years.
Along with sharing a first name, they live in the same community and attend the
Patricia C. had her will updated through Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Legal Services for the Elderly program when she moved to the area in 2014.
“Because I was new, I was
trying to find out everything that was available,” she says.
The program pairs Mecklenburg County residents age 60 and older with volunteer pro bono attorneys who help them prepare simple estate planning documents and execute them to ensure local seniors can maintain their dignity and independence when making end-of-life decisions without the burden of cost.
planning can be expensive, especially for people living on a fixed income, which
is a major reason why many put off doing it.
The pro bono attorney
who prepared Patricia C.’s documents told her that had she gone to a private
attorney to have the documents prepared, she would have paid at least $1,000
for the service. She’s seen others pay even more.
a person dies or becomes incapacitated without documenting their wishes, loved
ones are left with hard decisions to make.
That’s why Charlotte Center for
Legal Advocacy protects the rights of seniors who can’t afford legal assistance
by providing free simple estate planning.
“Being able to have this service done takes all of the hard decision making and burden off my children’s hands,” Patricia C. says.
Patricia C. had such a wonderful experience that when she learned her friend, Patricia H., didn’t have a will, she encouraged her to call Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
On April 26, the Patricias came to the sixth annual Wills for Seniors and Veterans Clinic at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, where volunteers from Duke Energy, Garrity & Gossage and K&L Gates helped local seniors and veterans execute wills, advance directives and powers of attorney documents.
“I’m here to support of my friend,” Patricia C. said sitting in the waiting area.
“It’s been a good
experience and my attorney explained so much,” Patricia H. said after
getting her documents finalized. “I’m going to live to be 100, but I’m
glad I was able to go ahead and check this off my to-do list!”
Now both women have the
peace of mind that comes with knowing their wishes will be honored and a plan
is in place.
The Patricias celebrated by going to lunch afterward.
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 on its annual Pro Bono Honor Roll.
This list recognizes local attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2018.
Thank you to these dedicated legal professionals who have given their time and expertise to serve our community!
Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies ensure ALL people have access to justice through legal representation.
Stephen D. Allred Blas P. Arroyo Keith F. Atkinson Patricia V. Baker Linda Elise Boss Barry S. Burke William M. Butler Jazmin G. Caldwell Emily Lynn Cantrell Avery Devin Catlin L. Cameron Caudle Jr. P. Mercer Cauley Graham H. Claybrook Shelly Davis Cole G. Lee Cory Alexander Carter Covington Robert Kader Crawford Matthew H. Crow Josef C. Culik Heather W. Culp Joshua D. Davey Stephen Thomas Denmark Kathleen H. Dooley Timothy Scott Emry Landon S. Eustache John A. Fagg Jr. Ramona Farzad Daniel J. Finegan Walter D. Fisher Jr. Douglas R. Ghidina David P. Ginzer Christian K. Glista Kimberly A. Gossage Stephanie E. Greer Fulcher
David Alan Griffin Ariel E. Harris Alexandra Jacqueline Hirsch Brett Alan Hubler Fielding E. Huseth Ann-Rose Marie Johnson-Lewis David H. Jones Stuart Manly Jones Jr. Michael Todd Kafka Amy P. Kaplan Christopher B. Karlsson Glenn E. Ketner III Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel Glenn G. Kunkes Nicholas H. Lee Francisco J. Linares Howard Michael Lintz Allan J. MacQuarrie Jasmine Chloe Marchant Thomas E. McNeill Graham Strowd Miller Eric William Mills Molly Elizabeth Morgan Robert A. Muckenfuss Amanda J. Muehlhausen Elizabeth A. Murphy Thomas W. Murrell III Amanda Pickens Nitto Nancy Black Norelli Paul J. Osowski Fern A. Paterson Kim Brett Perez Kathleen Elizabeth Perkins Sean F. Perrin
Henry N. Pharr III Kevin Lee Pratt Amanda Katherine Reasoner Alexis N. Reynolds Garry S. Rice Alice Carmichael Richey Patrick L. Ridinger Susan Courtwright Rodriguez Melissa A. Romanzo Frederic Hilton Schilling Jonathan E. Schulz Ty Edwin Shaffer Raleigh A. Shoemaker Matthew R. Smith Benjamin A. Snyder Eric S. Spengler Paul A. Steffens Ryan Paul Thompson Jeremy Bryant Tomes Lauren Tonon Nicolas Evan Tosco Leslie Campbell Tucker III Karen Vasko Richard William Veronen Jr. H. Landis Wade Jr. Ann L. Warren Kathryn G. Wellman Abigail Forrister Williams Susan Brown Wolfe David Scott Wolpa Julia Kay Wood Richard Charles Worf Jr. Julian H. Wright Jr. Nancy M. 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. Check out this year’s cohort of inductees! Learn more at ncprobono.org.