Author: Sean Driscoll

Leaders and volunteers with the Better Together law school partnership stand with Durham District Court Judge Amanda Maris at the partnership's 2023 expunction clinic.
Leaders and volunteers with the Better Together law school partnership stand with Durham District Court Judge Amanda Maris (front row, fifth from left) at the partnership’s 2023 expunction clinic.

The North Carolina Bar Association awarded this year’s Law School Pro Bono Service Award to Better Together, a partnership among Duke Law, NC Central University Law, UNC Law and the Durham Expunction and Restoration Program (itself a partnership among many groups, including Legal Aid NC) to provide pro bono criminal record expunctions to Durham residents.

Expunction is a critically important service in Durham, where, based on DEAR Program estimates, thousands of residents have criminal records. Such records create serious roadblocks to securing and maintaining safe and affordable housing, and stable and sustaining employment. While those with means can afford to hire private attorneys, low-income residents with criminal records — who, because of systemic racism, are disproportionately Black and Hispanic — must rely on the help of public-interest organizations to secure a clean slate.

That’s where Better Together comes in. Working under the supervision of attorneys from Legal Aid of North Carolina and the law schools, the project harnesses the people power provided by local law schools to offer expunctions on a grander scale than could otherwise be achieved. During the October 2023 Better Together clinic, hosted at the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law, six teams of three students each (one from each law school) prepared 70 petitions to expunge 325 charges in 14 counties for 27 Durham residents — not bad for a day’s work.

While many pro bono projects are a partnership between two organizations — a legal services provider and a law firm, for example — Better Together is a uniquely expansive collaboration, bringing together different (and, in some contexts, rival) schools to work together towards a shared goal, creating a community of service-oriented advocates within the next generation of NC lawyers.

Better Together is also unique due to the enthusiastic engagement of the judiciary. Durham District Court Judge Amanda Maris, co-chair of the DEAR Program’s Advisory Board, the program’s leadership body, is a key supporter of Better Together. During the 2023 clinic, she met with Better Together students to share her perspective from the bench on the importance of their work.

Read the NC Bar Association’s announcement.

Author: Sean Driscoll

At the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards luncheon May 6 in Durham, William C. “Bill” Moore stands with (left to right) Gina Reyman and Dietrich McMillan from Legal Aid NC; Lakethia Jefferies, Director of the Pro Bono Legal Clinic at NCCU Law; and Sarah Moore (no relation) and Sharon Council from Legal Aid NC.

We love our pro bono volunteers! HUGE congratulations to William C. Moore, one of our most legendary volunteers, for winning a Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for his lifetime of pro bono service to our firm and North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Bill volunteers as the supervising attorney of the Elder Law Project, a partnership between our Durham office and NCCU Law. Bill works with the project’s faculty, staff and law-student volunteers to provide free legal help to Durham senior citizens referred by the Durham Center for Senior Life.

“It’s hard to imagine the Elder Law Project without Bill Moore,” says Lakethia Jefferies, Director of the Pro Bono Clinic at NCCU Law. “He has played such an integral role in the project since its inception. While we have had many volunteer attorneys for the project, Mr. Moore is our shining star. His dedication and commitment to the project is unmatched. Each year, I have the privilege and joy of training another group of project law students. I can say that Mr. Moore has played an important role in the growth and professional development of our students. As a result, I can say without hesitation that North Carolina’s legal community is better off because of Attorney Bill Moore.”

Bill’s work with the Elder Law Project is just the tip of the iceberg. Since 2003, he has provided a total of nearly 1,500 hours of pro bono service to hundreds of our clients, ranking him among our most prolific — and impactful — volunteers ever.

“It’s almost impossible to overstate the value of Bill Moore’s service to our clients and our organization,” says Gina Reyman, Triangle Regional Manager for LANC and former head of its Durham office. “His longtime leadership of the Elder Law Project and his additional pro bono service over the last 20 years speak to the quality of his character and the strength of his commitment to public service. When it comes to pro bono volunteers, Mr. Moore is unmatched in his persistent, dedicated and quality services to our community.”

“With Bill,” says Sharon Council, pro bono coordinator for LANC’s Durham office, “it’s not just the amount of pro bono he does that makes him so special—it’s also the way he does it. He treats every client as if they’re the most important person in the world. He listens to their stories, empathizes with them, makes sure he understands what they want AND that they understand what he can and can’t do for them. His dedication to service is evident in every one of his client interactions. It has been my true joy to work with such a person who treats our clients and other colleagues with such great respect and dignity.”

One of Mr. Moore’s recent wills clients agrees. “Thank you for putting me in touch with attorney Bill Moore,” said the client. “He is such a caring person and a professional and friendly lawyer.”

Sarah Moore (no relation), a case coordinator on LANC’s statewide Pro Bono Programs team, who also works with Mr. Moore, says, “He is my go-to volunteer for estate-planning cases. He often works with multiple clients at a time. Whenever he finds himself with only one client, he always reaches out to ask if there are any new cases he can take on. That’s an extraordinary level of dedication for one of our pro bono volunteers.”

Learn more about the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards.

Author: Sean Driscoll

We’re making an impact in “Will-mington”! On May 4, we partnered with attorneys from Ward and Smith, P.A., to provide pro bono wills and advanced directives to senior citizens in the Port City. Working at the MLK Community Center, the Ward and Smith volunteers drafted 16 documents throughout the day.

“We are grateful for this partnership with Ward and Smith and the peace of mind and security their volunteers brought to our clients,” said Allison Constance, our Director of Pro Bono Programs, who provided support to the volunteers at the clinic.

Shoutout to volunteers Isabelle Chammas, Dana Lingenfelser, Avery Locklear, Taylor Rodney Marks, Zach Marks and Emily Martchek!

Are you an attorney who wants to make a difference for NC seniors? Learn more about our Volunteer Wills Program.


Author: Sean Driscoll

NCCU Law, NCBA Corporate Counsel Section, Legal Aid NC partner up for expunction event

DURHAM · NC Central University School of Law and our Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program hosted some special guests April 5 at an expunction clinic at the law school. Members of the Corporate Counsel Section of the NC Bar Association joined us to partner with law students to provide pro bono expunctions to Legal Aid NC clients in Durham. 

“I was worried this would be really complicated, but it wasn’t” said Elizabeth McKee, Chair of the Corporate Counsel Section, who volunteered at the event. “It was really easy. It helped that I partnered with a seasoned person who knew what they were doing.” 

That “seasoned person” was NCCU Law 2L Taiesha Morgan, a frequent participant in the law school’s expunction clinics. Asked about her interest in the subject, Taiesha, who wants to work in criminal law, said, “People have the right to expunge their records, but it’s a complicated process. Just being able to help is awesome.” 

Providing an opportunity for law students to network with attorneys was an important goal of the clinic, according to Jane Paksoy, Co-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Section’s Pro Bono/Community Service Committee, who participated in the event along with fellow Co-Chair Tracy Gaskins. Another goal was to provide in-house counsel with a meaningful and manageable pro bono opportunity. 

“In-house attorneys have less exposure to traditional pro bono opportunities than some of our colleagues,” Jane said. “Pro bono opportunities like today’s clinic are ideal for in-house attorneys. You don’t need a criminal law background to do expunction work and it’s a meaningful way to make an impact in a short amount of time.” 

Making an impact is what motivates Lakethia Jefferies, Director of the Pro Bono Clinic at NCCU Law, to organize these clinics. She wants to show students the meaningful difference that attorneys can make in the real world. 

“People with criminal records may not be able to get housing or jobs,” Lakethia said. “Something as simple as clearing a few marks off someone’s record can make a world of difference. These clinics allow law students to do access-to-justice work and see what a difference they can make for real clients. It also shows students that regardless of what practice area they go into, they can still do this work as a volunteer and make a difference.”

Ali Nininger-Finch, attorney with our DEAR Program, provided training to the law students and attorneys on how to prepare an expunction petition. Ali and DEAR paralegal Jeremiah Brutus (an NCCU Law alum), provided support to the volunteers during the clinic.


Author: Sean Driscoll

Meet Hannah Guerrier, our Charlotte Community Engagement Manager, a new role for both her and Legal Aid of North Carolina. In November 2023, Hannah transitioned from Supervising Attorney in our Charlotte office’s housing unit to assume the role, the first of its kind for our organization.

Hannah serves as the liaison with our supporters and stakeholders in the Queen City, including our robust corps of pro bono volunteers. She leads Legal Aid of North Carolina’s involvement with the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, a citywide effort to harness the power of pro bono to meet residents’ unmet legal needs.

You’ll find Hannah on the scene at the partnership’s monthly eviction-court clinics, which provide on-the-spot legal advice and representation to tenants facing eviction, and its monthly Lawyer on the Line clinics, which provide free legal advice to tenants struggling with dangerous and unsanitary housing conditions. She also helps organize the partnership’s monthly domestic violence clinics, held jointly with Safe Alliance, where pro bono volunteers help survivors draft complaints for Domestic Violence Protective Orders.

Keep reading to learn more about Hannah.

In her own words

Why is pro bono so important?

Because legal representation in matters of safety and stability is essential to achieving actual justice. We see how representation changes outcomes for litigants every day – whether it’s a domestic violence survivor seeking and protective order or a tenant trying to defend against an eviction. And because the need for these services is greater than Legal Aid staff can address on their own.

What’s the best part of your job?

As cliche as it sounds, the people. I get to work every day with some of the most genuine and hardworking human beings on behalf of other genuine and hardworking human beings. It’s a pleasure and an honor to help bring justice to our communities alongside such dedicated advocates.

What do you do in your free time?

Spoil my three pups with treats, walks, and cuddles. Puzzles and board games with my husband. And travel as much as I possibly can with him.

At a glance

Legal Aid of North Carolina

  • Charlotte Community Engagement Manager, 2023 – Present
  • Supervising Attorney, Housing Unit, Charlotte office, 2020 – 2023
  • Staff Attorney, Housing Unit, Charlotte office, 2018 – 2020
  • Housing Fellow Attorney, Charlotte office, 2016 – 2017

Selected previous experience

  • Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic, Graduate Legal Assistant and Student Attorney
  • US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, Law Clerk
  • Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Child Protection Section Law Clerk


  • Georgetown University Law Center, JD
  • Duke University, BS and AB

Author: Sean Driscoll

Whether you volunteer with our Heir Property Pro Bono Project, are interested in volunteering, or simply want to learn more about heir property and genealogy, you can’t go wrong by attending this free, virtual lunch-and-learn on March 28.

Sarah Carrier, Research and Instruction Librarian at the Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC Chapel Hill, will discuss genealogical research methods using hypotheticals and real-world examples, and will address nuances related to accessing records in various formats in different areas of the state.

Register today using the button below!


  • Date: Thursday, March 28, 2024
  • Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
  • Format: Zoom


Headshot of Sarah Carrier

Sarah Carrier is the Research and Instruction Librarian at the Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC Chapel Hill, where she supports research related to the history, people and culture of North Carolina, engaging with a wide variety of communities to meet their information needs.

Her work includes providing research services in the library’s reading rooms, working with faculty and instructors to incorporate the use of the collection into courses and workshops, providing instruction and support to students, and working with community members, groups and educators across the state to access collection materials.

Sarah has both her master’s in Library and Information Science and her bachelor’s from UNC Chapel Hill, and a certification in Data Science and Data Analytics from Springboard.

Learn more about Sarah on LinkedIn.

Author: Sean Driscoll

The Cadwalader law firm, with support from Wells Fargo, held this month’s Charlotte Triage housing conditions clinic March 5 at the firm’s Charlotte office.

The monthly clinics are a new part of the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, the Queen City legal community’s concerted effort to harness the power of pro bono to meet residents’ most pressing legal needs. The clinics are organized by a rotating group of the partnership’s Housing Champions—private attorneys responsible for directing services to Legal Aid NC’s housing clients.

At the clinics, which are also part of our Lawyer on the Line program, volunteers provide free, valuable legal advice over the phone to Legal Aid NC clients struggling with dangerous and unsanitary housing conditions.

Thanks to Christopher Dickson at Cadwalader for serving as a Charlotte Triage Housing Champion, Todd Stillerman at Wells Fargo for co-chairing the Charlotte Triage Task Force, and Glenn Huether at Wells Fargo for her longtime support of these clinics.

Check out these great photos from the event!


Author: Sean Driscoll

We ❤️ our pro bono volunteers! Dana Lumsden, partner with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Charlotte, recently scored a big win for one of our housing clients.
In 2022, our attorneys helped our client settle an eviction case with her landlord. As part of the settlement, the landlord agreed to waive rent that was still owed by our client. Soon after, the landlord reneged and sought to claim the rent they had agreed to waive. We turned to Dana for help.

Dana immediately swung into action, filing suit in small claims court to stop the landlord from taking the rent, which was rightfully our client’s. After learning of Dana’s suit, the landlord relented, acknowledging our client’s right to the rent and agreeing to pay interest and attorney’s fees, an amount totaling more than $5,000—a huge sum of money for our client.
Dana is no stranger to pro bono. He serves as a Housing Champion for the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, the Queen City legal community’s concerted effort to use pro bono to meet residents’ most pressing legal needs. As a Housing Champion, Dana helps direct the partnership’s services to our housing clients. In recognition of his pro bono service, the Mecklenburg County Bar honored him with an Individual Pro Bono Award last year.

Author: Sean Driscoll

We ❤️ our pro bono volunteers! Raleigh attorney Peter Robinson recently helped a Robeson County resident expunge the only serious marks on her criminal record, a nearly 40-year-old nonviolent felony conviction and a dismissed misdemeanor charge. Peter’s service eliminated a major obstacle to his client’s ability to secure and maintain stable housing and employment.
Said Peter about his service: “I was proud to serve a Native American client and help her expunge her criminal record, which arose from her poverty and disadvantaged circumstances.”
When Peter isn’t handling expunctions for us, he represents defendants before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, a United Nations body with responsibilities related to the Rwandan genocide and the Yugoslav Wars.
Learn more about Peter at

Author: Sean Driscoll

RALEIGH — Today we announce the inaugural winners of our new, annual Pro Bono Hero Awards. The awards recognize pro bono service that we hope serves as an inspiring example to the NC legal community. They also celebrate the diversity of both the forms of service from which our clients and organization benefit and of the volunteers themselves.

We will present the awards today at a lunchtime ceremony held during the first day of our two-day Statewide Summit, a training and networking event for our staff, partners and supporters. The event will take place at the Friday Conference Center in Chapel Hill.

“The value of the pro bono service and support provided by legal professionals to Legal Aid of North Carolina and our clients is incalculably high,” said Allison Constance, Director of Pro Bono Programs.

“The amount and quality of the direct pro bono services to our clients is especially valuable and impressive,” Constance continued, “though our organization also reaps huge benefits from other forms of service, including serving on our Board of Directors and other consultative bodies, sharing legal expertise with our practitioners, and championing our pro bono programs throughout the private bar.”

“We hope our Pro Bono Heroes feel even half as honored to receive this recognition as we do to count them among our supporters and friends,” Constance concluded.

Wells Fargo

We honor Wells Fargo for:

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

We honor Nelson Mullins for:

  • Their attorneys’ service to our Charlotte office’s housing clients through the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, especially the service of attorney Paul Osowski as a champion of the housing practice area;
  • The steadfast service of attorney Lorin Lapidus in support of our appellate advocacy;
  • The extraordinary and successful service of attorneys Paul Osowski and David Blue to a client seeking to recover a security deposit; and
  • Attorney Jeff Kelly, who is a champion of access to justice in the national and NC legal communities, who serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of our new Innovation Lab, and who is a member of our Board of Directors.

Randolph County Domestic Violence Pro Bono Team

We honor Thomas D. Robins, Margaret J. Megerian, Chelsie L. Embler and Nicholas Patrick (pictured clockwise) for their extraordinary service to domestic violence survivors in Randolph County. For years, the attorneys have worked on a rotating weekly basis to take domestic violence cases to court for our Greensboro office. Once, when the team was without a few members, Tom and Margaret continued taking all the cases to court. Tom is also a member of our Greensboro office’s Local Advisory Council, a group of supporters that informs the office’s advocacy and raises awareness of its services among the client and legal communities.

Evonne Sammartino Hopkins

We honor Evonne Hopkins for her steadfast, skilled, and ongoing service to clients of The Child’s Advocate and her other support of the project, which represents children in high-conflict custody cases in Wake and Durham counties. Evonne, President of the Raleigh Law Center, has spent more than 130 hours representing six children in three different cases, two of which involved physical and emotional abuse of the children. She has also helped with the project’s annual training and written detailed letters of support for the project’s grant applications.

Thomas E. Fulghum

We honor Tom Fulghum for his years of pro bono service to clients of our Immigration Pathways for Victims (IMMPAV) project. Tom, a sole practitioner in Durham, was for many years the project’s go-to, never-says-no pro bono volunteer for U Visa cases. U Visas provide immigration relief to victims of qualifying crimes who have helped law enforcement investigate or prosecute criminal activity. U Visa cases are complex and can last years. Tom also helped lead a CLE for pro bono attorneys about U Visa adjustment cases, which involve U Visa holders seeking green cards. Most recently, he took a T Visa/removal defense case from IMMPAV to assist a survivor of human trafficking.

Ashlee B. Poplin

We honor Ashlee Poplin for her dedicated and proactive service to domestic violence clients of our Charlotte office. An attorney in the Charlotte office of Adams and Reese LLP, Ashlee contacted our staff in 2022 to inquire about providing pro bono service to domestic violence survivors. She currently handles nearly all the office’s cases involving renewals of Domestic Violence Protective Orders — and she fiercely protects the rights of every survivor. Ashlee serves as a champion of the domestic violence practice area for the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, a role which involves recruiting other attorneys to serve survivors.

Paul R. Kinny

We honor Paul Kinny for his years of extraordinary and dedicated service to our housing clients in Charlotte. For the past few years, Paul, a retired Duke Energy lawyer, has taken on a full housing caseload from May to August, providing hundreds of hours of pro bono service to Charlotte residents. Paul also serves on our Charlotte office’s Local Advisory Council, a group of supporters that informs the office’s advocacy and raises awareness of its services among the client and legal communities.

Desirae C. Williams

We honor Desirae Williams for her extraordinary service to a New Hanover County client whose landlord withheld the client’s security deposit under false pretenses. Desirae, an attorney in Robinson Bradshaw’s Charlotte office, accepted the case in September 2022, the same month she was admitted to practice in North Carolina. Desirae devoted 30 hours to the case, which lasted nearly a year. Her service included exerting a Herculean effort to try to serve her client’s landlord and traveling to Wilmington for a court hearing.

To learn more about our pro bono programs, visit

Awards ceremony photo gallery

Tom Fulghum, Paul Kinny and Representatives from Wells Fargo were unable to attend the ceremony.