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 Expunction Clinics Kick Off with Help of Triage Partners

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy kicked off its 2020 expunction clinics Jan. 22 with volunteers from the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership to help 15 Mecklenburg County residents apply to have their criminal records expunged.

An expunction (also called an “expungement”) removes minor offenses and misdemeanors on one’s criminal record that create significant barriers to economic stability and opportunity.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy helps low-income Mecklenburg County residents get their criminal records expunged allowing them to pursue a broader range of economic opportunities.

The expunction clinic was the first of six to be held this year.

“This is a breath of fresh air,” said Bernard, who had been working toward a new start before coming to the clinic for help.

He heard about the expunction clinic and registered through Running Works, a Charlotte nonprofit that empowers individuals and families to break cycles of abuse, abandonment, neglect, poverty and homelessness through running, career development services, counseling, group therapy and housing initiatives.

“What I needed the most was to clean up my record instead of giving up,” he said.

Now Bernard is waiting to learn if his application will be approved.

Bernard is one of more than 2 million North Carolina residents living with a criminal record. Too often, these individuals are automatically denied employment, housing, and other opportunities, based on past involvement with the criminal justice system, including dismissed charges and long-ago convictions.

As part of its 2020 Advocacy Agenda, the Advocacy Center supports legislative efforts to expand eligibility for expunctions, such as The Second Chance Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the N.C. Senate last year. We are hopeful that the N.C. House of Representatives will consider and approve this legislation this spring.

Through our individual representation and advocacy, the Advocacy Center seeks to help people with criminal records have a fair chance at productive citizenship.

Special thanks to Lara Nichols and Ann Warren of Duke Energy; Kevin Denny and Justin Knapp of McGuireWoods LLP; Abigail Williams of K&L Gates LLP; Katie Clarke and Fern Patterson of Parker Poe; and Chad Crockford of Wells Fargo for volunteering their time through the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership.

Wondering if you are eligible to clean up your criminal record?

Mecklenburg County residents can learn more and register for our upcoming clinics by calling 704-376-1600 ext. 510.

Registration is required to receive assistance. Applicants must not have any pending criminal charges.