Charlotte Triage, a groundbreaking partnership created by McGuireWoods and corporate law departments to support local legal aid organizations, is the recipient of the 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Award from the Pro Bono Institute (PBI). The national award honors innovative pro bono partnerships between law firms, in-house legal departments and public interest organizations.
Charlotte Triage supports Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte and the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. The program uses a collaborative approach to identify and meet pro bono legal needs in Charlotte, which is grappling with economic mobility challenges and a vulnerable homeless population. McGuireWoods, Moore & Van Allen and dozens of local law firms and corporate legal departments — including leaders from Bank of America, Duke Energy, Husqvarna Group and Wells Fargo — came together in 2018 to launch the ambitious initiative.
The program enables legal aid groups to outsource work to private-practice lawyers and in-house counsel for eviction defense, healthcare enrollment, criminal record expunctions and human trafficking. Since its inception, the program has trained more than 400 volunteers and helped deliver legal services for more than 350 matters.
In addition to these services, Triage volunteers are helping families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis by negotiating rent forgiveness for those forced to shelter in motels during the pandemic.
“Charlotte Triage is a powerful example of the impact law firms, corporate legal departments and legal aid organizations have when they work together to meet pro bono needs in their communities, fulfilling the important mission of the Pro Bono Institute,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon.
“This recognition is a testament to Charlotte Triage’s progress expanding access to legal services for those most in need,” added J. Tracy Walker IV, McGuireWoods’ managing partner. “It is especially rewarding to collaborate with valued clients whose contributions are essential to the project’s success.”
The national PBI honor is the latest recognition Charlotte Triage has earned for pro bono service. The Mecklenburg County Bar presented Charlotte Triage with its “Collaborative Pro Bono Project Award” in 2019 and the North Carolina State Bar will honor Charlotte Triage with its “Outstanding Pro Bono Collaborative Service” award later this year. PBI invited Charlotte Triage leaders to lead a panel, “Building a Second Ring of Legal Aid: Triage Pro Bono” at its 2019 conference, explaining how others can build their own triage programs.
“It is a privilege to work with talented, community-minded attorneys from law firms and corporate legal departments who are passionate about serving their neighbors in need,” said McGuireWoods partner Mark Kinghorn, a co-coordinator for the project’s eviction defense efforts. “I am proud that Charlotte Triage is making a positive difference in our community.”