An innovative collaboration that makes legal services more accessible to low-income Charlotte residents will expand in its second year thanks to pro bono efforts led by McGuireWoods, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, Moore & Van Allen and Husqvarna.
The Charlotte Triage project marked its first anniversary Sept. 4 with CLE training sessions and a reception at The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte attended by nearly 300 legal and other professionals. In its inaugural year, the Triage project allowed Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte to outsource work to law firms and in-house counsel in three areas where pro bono help is most needed: housing evictions, healthcare enrollment and expunging criminal records.
Pro bono volunteers handled nearly 200 eviction prevention cases, healthcare enrollments and record expunction matters. Every pro bono client referred by the two legal aid organizations was accepted and served by Charlotte Triage. In its second year, the program also will focus on assisting victims of human trafficking.
“Charlotte Triage has cultivated a network of talented, community-minded attorneys from law firms and corporate legal departments who are passionate about serving those in need, and that network continues to grow,” said Angie Zimmern, McGuireWoods’ pro bono director and coordinator of Charlotte Triage. “This collaborative pro bono effort has had a measurable impact in the community and we look forward to achieving even greater results in our second year.”
The anniversary event featured remarks from David Leitch, global general counsel of Bank of America; Jim Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation; Vijay Bondada, vice president and chief litigation officer at Duke Energy; and Ellen Fitzsimmons, executive vice president and general counsel of Sun Trust Banks Inc.
The Charlotte Business Journal published a story on the anniversary event and Business North Carolina included coverage in its daily newsletter to subscribers.
Charlotte Triage is an expansion of a first-of-its-kind pro bono initiative begun in 2017 that made Richmond, Virginia, the first U.S. city to outsource legal aid matters in 12 practice areas. Scott Oostdyk, McGuireWoods’ pro bono partner liaison, played a lead role in developing Richmond Triage. He and Leitch led the effort to expand the project to Charlotte with an eye toward fighting homelessness.
To tailor the concept to Charlotte’s legal aid needs, they worked with a task force that included Zimmern, Bank of America assistant general counsel Todd Stillerman, representatives from Duke Energy, Husqvarna, Wells Fargo, and Moore & Van Allen; and members of Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
Charlotte Triage established a coordinated referral “champions” system enabling legal aid groups to efficiently outsource work to pro bono lawyers trained to handle eviction prevention, healthcare enrollment and expunction matters. More than 200 volunteers were trained during the first year and nearly 100 assisted clients.
McGuireWoods has earned numerous national and regional honors for pro bono service. The National Law Journal selected the firm for its 2019 Pro Bono Hot List, citing landmark court victories and innovative partnerships with corporate clients to assist legal aid organizations.