The National Law Journal’s ‘Pro Bono Hot List’ Lauds McGuireWoods for Aiding Clients in Need

May 17, 2019

The National Law Journal has honored McGuireWoods by selecting the firm for its “2019 Pro Bono Hot List.”

The NLJ cited McGuireWoods’ federal court win securing the largest single-plaintiff trafficking award in U.S. history; a partnership with corporate general counsel to aid Charlotte, North Carolina-area legal aid organizations; and a U.S. Supreme Court Fourth Amendment victory.

“I am delighted that that our firm has been recognized for our pro bono work. The recognition is important because it highlights the great unmet need for legal services generally. I am incredibly proud of all of our lawyers and staff who are making a difference in the communities where we live and work by providing pro bono representation to underserved populations. It is something we are committed to as a firm,” said managing partner J. Tracy Walker IV.

The firm was recognized in a May 1 Q&A with Scott Oostdyk, McGuireWoods’ partner liaison for pro bono.

The Q&A noted the record $8 million federal court judgment won by a pro bono team led by McGuireWoods’ Betsy Hutson for client Kendra Ross. For more than a decade starting at age11, Ross had been forced to work round-the-clock for a regimented cult.

“Kendra had the incredible courage to return to the epicenter of the cult, take the stand in open court, and testify against her traffickers,” Oostdyk recalled. “After the hearing, the judge walked down from the bench, shook Kendra’s hand, expressed sincere compassion toward her, and said it was a true honor and privilege to meet her.”

The NLJ also highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Collins v. Virginia, won by McGuireWoods partner Matt Fitzgerald’s pro bono team, which held that police officers can’t use the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception to access a vehicle in a home’s curtilage without a warrant. The decision changed the way police nationally are trained to conduct searches and helped McGuireWoods earn recognition in NLJ’s 2018 Appellate Hot List.

And the firm earned kudos for its role establishing Charlotte Triage — co-led by firm pro bono director Angie Zimmern — in which lawyers from law firms and in-house counsel team up with Charlotte-area legal aid providers to help underprivileged clients fight evictions, secure housing and employment, and protect access to healthcare.