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

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

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.

What friends are for …

Patricia H. and Patricia C.

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 same church.

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.

Estate 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.

However, when 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.

That’s what friends are for.

Learn more about Legal Services for the Elderly.

Pro Bono Honor Roll 2019

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.

Download a copy of the
Pro Bono Honor Roll 2019

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.