CHARLOTTE—Over pizzas and salad from a nearby restaurant, a group of Honeywell lawyers and paralegals spent a recent lunch hour providing pro bono legal advice to Legal Aid of North Carolina clients struggling with serious housing-conditions issues.
Hosted by the multi-national manufacturing and technology corporation in its technologically advanced Charlotte headquarters—the company is shaping the future, solving the world’s toughest challenges by inventing and manufacturing technologies linked to global macrotrends such as safety, security, and sustainability—the January 25 event was part of our Lawyer on the Line pro bono program, which recruits private attorneys to provide free legal advice to clients over the phone.
Dawn Savarese, Assistant General Counsel at Honeywell, and Larissa Mañon Mervin, a Charlotte-based supervising attorney on our statewide Pro Bono Programs team, organized the event.
“The Honeywell team is beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Lawyer on the Line program,” Dawn added. “The impact we can make in our community is so very gratifying, and working with Larissa and the knowledgeable and professional team at Legal Aid is a gift, not to mention incredibly fun. We are ready for the next one!”
“Dawn was the real driving force here,” Larissa said. “She’s a true pro bono champion. She wants to make sure her colleagues have accessible and meaningful pro bono opportunities. She worked hard to bring us all together and ensure everything ran smoothly the day of—she even picked up the pizza! I wasn’t surprised when she reached out a few days after the event to start planning the next one.”
Larissa was joined at the event by seasoned Legal Aid NC housing attorneys O’Shauna Hunter, head of our Charlotte office’s housing unit; Nicole Mueller, who shares her time as a supervising attorney on our Pro Bono Programs team and Disaster Relief Project; and Isaac Sturgill, head of our statewide housing practice group. The housing attorneys served as subject-matter consultants for the volunteers, who were advising tenants living in unsanitary or unsafe conditions.
Honeywell paralegal Naundra Taylor spoke with a client whose landlord refused to repair the collapsed floor in her hallway—a major safety hazard to her young child. Naundra advised the client about communicating with her landlord in a way that would allow her to make her case effectively in court (if it came to that) and what to do if the landlord tried to evict her—a common occurrence for tenants who complain to their landlords about housing conditions.
“It was wonderful!” Naundra said of her first-time experience handling a pro bono case for Legal Aid of North Carolina. “I’m ready for my next case!”
Daniela Tijerina, director of the company’s Integrity and Compliance division, also enjoyed her first pro bono experience with Legal Aid NC.
“I feel accomplished for my day,” she said. “Just knowing that someone now has a path forward makes me feel good. I would love to do this more!”
Brendan Clark, a Senior Contracts Representative at Honeywell, felt a personal connection to the work.
“As someone who grew up in an impoverished community where housing issues were commonplace,” said Brendan, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and the Blackfoot Nation, “it was a tremendous honor to be able to provide assistance to someone who was in a similar unfortunate situation as many of my friends and family members. Many tenants fall prey to predatory landlords who use their power to negligently harm and/or discriminate against the very people they should be caring for. Lawyer on the Line plays a critical role in fighting back and I was happy to play a small role in this charge.”
Kris Pickler, general counsel for Honeywell’s Global Real Estate division, addressed the fears that some corporate attorneys might have about pro bono work.
“Some in-house counsel may not feel that they have the skills needed or time available to do pro bono,” he said. “Skills and time don’t need to be a barrier. Legal Aid has wonderful staff and online and in-person training resources to help you learn new subject matter. They have pro bono opportunities with variable time commitments so you can help those in need based on your availability.”
“Jump in and give it a go,” he said. “It is extremely rewarding.”
Other Honeywell lawyers who volunteered at the event:
- Aparana Jaiswal, Senior Contracts Representative
- Annie Matonis, Senior Contracts Representative
- Will Munnerlyn, Deputy IP Counsel, Honeywell Safety & Productivity Solutions
- Jeremy Whitley, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Honeywell Safety & Productivity Solutions
- Darryl Wilson, Assistant General Counsel
Are you an attorney who wants to be a pro bono hero for North Carolinians in need? To learn more about our programs and join us on our mission for justice, visit legalaidnc.org/pro-bono. Want to stay in the pro bono loop? Join our email list or follow #LANCprobono on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.