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​Legal Aid of NC honors law firms for pro bono service​

Kilpatrick Townsend, McGuireWoods, Robinson Bradshaw and Womble Carlyle recognized for extraordinary commitments to Legal Aid clients

RALEIGH, Oct. 31, 2016 Legal Aid of North Carolina honored four law firms for their extraordinary pro bono service to Legal Aid clients at an awards ceremony Wednesday in Greensboro. The ceremony was held as part of the 2016 North Carolina Legal Services Conference, which brought together civil legal aid lawyers from across the state for two days of networking and training.

The four law firms honored by Legal Aid of North Carolina – Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; McGuireWoods LLP; Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A.; and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP – have each provided over 1,200 hours of pro bono service to Legal Aid clients since 2011.

One of the most popular ways for attorneys to volunteer with Legal Aid is through the Lawyer on the Line program, which connects Legal Aid clients to private attorneys who provide free legal help over the phone. Volunteers serve up to four clients a month, receive training in core areas of poverty law, are covered by malpractice insurance and can rely on mentoring support from seasoned Legal Aid attorneys. The North Carolina Bar Association and Legal Aid launched the program to serve thousands more Legal Aid clients a year while providing an easy, straightforward way for private attorneys to do pro bono.

Lawyers with Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, which is based in Winston-Salem and has offices in Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park and Wilmington, have given over 1,750 hours of free service to Legal Aid clients since 2011. George Hausen, executive director of Legal Aid, said that Womble Carlyle "sets the gold standard of law firm pro bono partnership," noting that the firm has played an integral role in Legal Aid's governance since its founding and annually provides significant financial support – all in addition to the firm's pro bono contributions. "We are truly grateful to count Womble Carlyle among our supporters," Hausen said.

Kilpatrick Townsend, with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, has donated more than 1,375 hours to Legal Aid clients since 2011. Kilpatrick attorneys, in partnership with Legal Aid's education justice project, Advocates for Children's Services, and the Wake Forest School of Law, have dedicated significant time to representing at-risk children in cases involving special education and school discipline. Jennifer Story, head of Advocates for Children's Services, described the firm as a "shining example of the positive impact that a private firm can have by doing pro bono work," and said that their zealous advocacy "has had a hugely positive impact for some of our state's most vulnerable children."

McGuireWoods, with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington, has performed more than 1,355 hours of pro bono service to Legal Aid clients since 2011. The firm has partnered with The Child's Advocate, a Legal Aid project that represents children in high-conflict custody cases in Wake County, to train private attorneys to take these cases pro bono. Monica Webb, a McGuireWoods attorney and Legal Aid board member, is among the firm's attorneys who accept these cases. Suzanne Chester, head of The Child's Advocate, said that "the generosity of firms like McGuireWoods is crucial to giving a voice to children trapped in high-conflict custody cases and helping to mitigate the psychological damage these children suffer as a result." McGuireWoods is also the recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association's 2016 Pro Bono Award for a large law firm. The firm was nominated by Legal Aid's Charlotte office and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont.

Robinson Bradshaw, with offices in Chapel Hill and Charlotte, has given over 1,250 hours of service to Legal Aid clients since 2011, and "has been a major, continuous pro bono partner with Legal Aid of North Carolina since our inception in 2002," said Ted Fillette, assistant director of Legal Aid and head of its Charlotte office. Fillette described co-counseling a case with Robinson Bradshaw in 2015 before North Carolina's Supreme Court on behalf of a family threatened with eviction from subsidized housing. "It was a case presenting issues of statewide and national importance. We were successful in protecting that family from homelessness and establishing a precedent recognized as the leading decision in this area of federal law."

Pictures from the awards ceremony are available on Legal Aid's Facebook page at facebook.com/LegalAidNC.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. For legal help, apply online or call toll-free 1-866-219-LANC (5262). Learn more at legalaidnc.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact
Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, 919-856-2132, seand@legalaidnc.org