The Charlotte Triage pro bono partnership — a collaboration led by McGuireWoods, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, and Moore & Van Allen to expand pro bono services for low-income Charlotte residents — marked its third anniversary Oct. 21, 2021, with virtual CLE training sessions attended by 185 legal and other professionals. The anniversary event provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about Charlotte Triage and receive training to assist legal aid clients.
Charlotte Triage supports Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte and the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy by enabling the legal aid organizations to outsource work to private practice lawyers and in-house counsel for matters related to human trafficking, criminal record expunctions, healthcare enrollment, housing eviction defense, driver’s license restorations and access to Social Security benefits.
Angie Zimmern, McGuireWoods’ pro bono director and coordinator of Charlotte Triage, kicked off the event by welcoming attendees and thanking volunteers for their pro bono contributions.
“For the last four years, we’ve gathered in the fall to raise awareness of the most pressing pro bono legal needs in Charlotte and to make a call to action to our attorneys and legal professionals to change lives through pro bono service,” said Zimmern. “We would not be here today without the leadership of David Leitch, whose vision and service helped formulate Charlotte Triage and set us on the path to assisting Charlotte’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Leitch, global general counsel of Bank of America, was celebrated in a short video that highlighted his impact on Charlotte Triage and his passion for this initiative. The video included remarks from John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
During his remarks, Leitch outlined the three guiding principles of Charlotte Triage: There are many unmet legal needs that should be addressed; legal services organizations do not have the resources to train people to meet these needs; and Charlotte Triage volunteers should think of themselves as lawyers for the community.
“This is the third anniversary, and it really is incredible to look back and think about all that you have achieved,” said Leitch. “People from all over the city have stepped up and done their part.”
Other speakers included Charlotte Triage leaders Sarah Byrne, senior counsel, Moore & Van Allen; Chris Fernandez, counsel, K&L Gates; Chelsea Corey, senior associate, King & Spalding; Paul Osowski, partner, Nelson Mullins; Allie Lin, head of litigation and employment law, Brighthouse Financial; Elizabeth Murphy, partner, Alston & Bird; Todd Stillerman, associate general counsel, Bank of America; Tommy Holderness, housing attorney, Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte; and Ken Schorr, executive director, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.
Charlotte Triage grew out of a first-of-its-kind pro bono initiative launched in 2017 that made Richmond, Virginia, the first U.S. city to outsource legal aid matters in 12 practice areas. Scott Oostdyk, McGuireWoods’ global pro bono partner, played a lead role developing Richmond Triage. He and Leitch led the effort to expand the project to Charlotte. Zimmern and Stillerman co-lead the management committee that oversees Charlotte Triage’s day-to-day operations.
Since its inception in 2018, Charlotte Triage has been recognized for exemplary pro bono service. The Pro Bono Institute honored Charlotte Triage with the 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award, which recognizes innovative pro bono partnerships between law firms, in-house legal departments and public interest organizations. In addition, the North Carolina State Bar honored Charlotte Triage with its Outstanding Pro Bono Collaborative Service award in 2020.