Category: Media release

RALEIGH, NC – Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC), a leading civil legal service provider committed to equal access to justice, is pleased to announce the appointment of Scheree Gilchrist as its Chief Innovation Officer. In this strategic role, Gilchrist will spearhead the innovation initiatives at LANC, fostering a culture of creativity, collaboration, and efficiency to advance the organization’s vision for an inclusive justice system.  

Under Gilchrist’s leadership, LANC will launch the Innovation Lab, a new venture dedicated to exploring and implementing innovative solutions within the organization. The lab will serve as a hub for interdisciplinary teams to collaborate, develop, and test ideas that allow legal services to be delivered more efficiently to North Carolinians. 

Expressing her enthusiasm for the new role, Gilchrist stated, “Legal Aid of North Carolina is proud to be the first legal services organization in the country to launch an innovation lab. We are leading in the innovation space because we understand that technology paired with a human-centered collaborative approach can improve and scale our work.” 

As the Chief Innovation Officer, Gilchrist will develop and execute a comprehensive and sustainable innovation strategy that aligns with LANC’s vision of being an innovative, creative, and progressive legal services provider. Beginning with modernizing the intake process, LANC will collect more data and adjust its service offerings to better meet existing needs, particularly in rural areas. 

“1.5 million North Carolinians are eligible for our services,” said new LANC CEO Ashley Campbell. “We do not have sufficient financial resources to meet that need. We must innovate in order to improve client service delivery, particularly in rural areas of the state.” 

Gilchrist brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role. She graduated with honors from the University of the West Indies School of Law and holds an LL.M. from Duke Law School. She has been an integral part of the LANC team since 2006, starting as a staff attorney and progressing through various roles within the organization. During her tenure, Gilchrist demonstrated exceptional leadership as she transitioned from being a supervising attorney to managing attorney of LANC’s Centralized Intake Unit. 

By embracing a human-centered approach, LANC will work towards reshaping the landscape of civil legal services and breaking down barriers that hinder equal access to justice. Through Gilchrist’s strategic guidance, LANC aspires to set new standards for innovation within the legal sector and create a lasting impact on the lives of those in need. 


To learn more about the Innovation Lab, visit or contact Scheree Gilchrist at

Category: Media release

CHARLOTTE · May 9, 2023 — Lawyers with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP and Bank of America celebrated Financial Institution Pro Bono Day on April 27 by providing free legal advice to Legal Aid of North Carolina clients struggling with poor housing conditions. Bradley hosted the event in its Charlotte office, which is located across the street from Bank of America’s global headquarters. 

During the event, lawyers from the firm and bank partnered up to provide free legal advice over the phone to our clients facing serious problems with their living conditions, everything from leaky ceilings to dangerous faulty wiring.

Leah Campbell, Counsel at Bradley, organized the event. When asked what inspires her to do pro bono work, she said, “Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity when they go into the court of justice. It can be very scary if you’re not familiar with it. That’s why it’s important for a lawyer to be there with them.” 

She also praised her firm’s commitment to pro bono. 

“One of the founding values of the firm is public service,” she said. “Both pro bono and community service in general. That commitment is demonstrated in part by the fact that attorneys can receive billable credit up to a certain amount of pro bono hours. We want to encourage people to do it.”

Megan Scholz, Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Bank of America, spoke of the Bank’s commitment to pro bono. “Bank of America is very committed to pro bono, volunteer work and community engagement across the country and around the world. Attorneys are encouraged to use their skills to give back to their community and are able to do so during work hours to encourage participation.”

Nate Viebrock, Counsel at Bradley, helped a woman living with a leaky ceiling, rotted-out stairs and a broken kitchen appliance. 

“We were able to get a hold of her landlord,” Viebrock said. “The landlord said they had her on their list for repairs and would call us back when the repairs were scheduled. It’s powerful when they hear their tenants have representation. That touches on why I choose to do pro bono. Our work sometimes takes months, years, to ever see any kind of result. Here we made a phone call and got a quick result for our client.” 

Andria Patterson, Assistant General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Bank of America, had a client who was dealing with a bug infestation and faulty wiring on a kitchen appliance that could have caused a fire. 

“I have a passion for helping people,” Patterson said. “That’s really why you become an attorney in the first place — you want to help people. Pro bono pulls on that passion. Especially when you see people who need legal help but can’t afford an attorney. You always want to step in and fill that gap.”

Amy Puckett, Senior Attorney at Bradley, who partnered with Patterson on the case, said, “It sounds trite, but I think it’s very important to give back and invest in the community. This is a skillset that I have and it’s nice to try to make the Charlotte community better, whether in a small way or a big way.” 

Bob Roth, Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Bank of America, who handled one of the more complex cases of the day — he was on the phone with his client for at least an hour — addressed the anxiety that some attorneys have about pro bono.

“You hear the acronym FOMO — fear of missing out. In pro bono there’s FOMU — fear of messing up. Part of overcoming that fear is realizing that there are resources to help you out. You’re not swimming alone. If you have that concern, you should try to dispel it as best you can and try something new.” 

If you are an attorney who wants to try something new, visit the pro bono section of our website to learn about our programs and sign up to join us on our mission for justice. Go to

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Category: Media release

For over two decades, the Battered Immigrant Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina has provided critical legal assistance to immigrants suffering from domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Now, the project team is excited to announce they have changed their name to Immigration Pathways for Victims, or IMMPAV.

Rona Karacaova, managing attorney at IMMPAV, says on the change, “When Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Battered Immigrant Project was created in 2002, due to federal restrictions, its focus was to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence. Since that time, the scope of the immigration services which Legal Aid of North Carolina provides has expanded to include services for victims of sexual assault and human trafficking due the federal government’s recognition that that immigrant victims of these crimes are especially vulnerable and need legal services. Thus, we are now changing our name to Immigration Pathways for Victims (IMMPAV) to accurately reflect the services we provide immigrant victims of crimes.”

IMMPAV will perform the same duties and responsibilities of the Battered Immigrant Project. With this name change, the team aims to continue handling the same category of cases with the same efficiency, efficacy, and empathy that they’ve regularly employed over the last twenty years.

Karacaova continues, “IMMPAV’s goal is to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking obtain the immigration benefits which Congress created for them. These benefits include employment authorization and legal status so that victims can emerge from the shadows, work, and support their family members without being tempted to return to abusive situations in order to provide shelter and food for their children and themselves. Immigration law is complex, and the process to apply for various benefits is confusing and can take years. Without our assistance, many victims and their family members would not be able to access the benefits to which they are entitled.”


Category: Media release

GREENSBORO – Elon Law students working with Legal Aid of North Carolina attorneys provided free legal advice to low-income renters struggling with poor housing conditions at a Lawyer on the Line pro bono clinic held Monday at the law school. Lawyer on the Line, our flagship pro bono program, connects our clients who have day-to-day, non-emergency legal problems to volunteer attorneys — and law students — who provide them with free legal advice over the phone.

Working under the supervision of our attorneys, nine students partnered up to serve six clients, who were struggling with issues ranging from mold to radon poisoning. The students called their clients to learn about their problems and then discussed their clients’ situations with our attorneys. Afterwards, the students drafted letters to the clients summarizing their legal issues and the advice that was approved by the attorneys.

“Everyone enjoyed the clinic,” said Matt Ferris, co-director of Elon Law’s Pro Bono Board, which organized the event. “Interacting with clients and learning from practicing attorneys is valuable real-world experience for students.”

Nicole Mueller, supervising attorney on our Pro Bono Team and an Elon Law alum, helped organize the clinic and served as a supervising attorney. “Law school pro bono clinics are a win-win for everyone,” she said. “Clients get free legal help, students get experience, and we can serve more clients. Plus, we hope the experience inspires students to make pro bono an integral part of their legal careers.”

The students participating in the clinic were April Bourommavong, Elizabeth Fadl, Joselyn Harden, Courtney Latourrette, Liz Martinez, Brooke McCormick, Kayla McLaurin, Lindsay Young and Nick Young. The Legal Aid NC attorneys participating were Shaun Arnold, Amanda Feder, Janet McAuley-Blue and Charlisa Powell, all from our Greensboro office. Liam O’Brien, an Elon Law student interning with our Economic Justice Initiative, also participated. Jill Bridges, case coordinator on our Pro Bono Programs team, screened the clients and prepared the case files.

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Category: Media release

Charlotte, NC – Legal Aid of North Carolina has announced Larissa Mañón Mervin, Legal Aid NC supervising attorney for Pro Bono Programs, as its new Charlotte Managing Attorney. This transition precedes long-time Charlotte Managing Attorney Cindy Patton’s retirement.

In her new role, Mervin will lead the staff and operations for the Charlotte office and service area, ensuring Legal Aid NC’s continuous effort to provide free, quality legal services to eligible clients in Mecklenburg County.

Mervin is a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates and serves on the Board of Governors for the North Carolina Bar Association and the Board of Directors for the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.     

“My goal in this role is to make sure staff feels valued and appreciated for the phenomenal work they do,” said Mervin. “I want to ensure that they have the tools necessary to effectively represent our clients and give them the best services possible. I look forward to continuing our work with community partners and sister agencies to provide comprehensive services to Mecklenburg County.” Mervin’s predecessor, Patton, began her legal services career in the early 1990’s at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. She joined Legal Aid NC at its establishment in 2002 and commenced her 20-year span as its managing attorney.

“I have enjoyed my work and consider it an honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to serve our client community for over 30 years and to have worked with such talented and dedicated staff,” Patton said. “I am very pleased Larissa will be the next managing attorney for Legal Aid NC. She is an extraordinary leader. I’m confident that under her leadership, the Charlotte Office of Legal Aid NC will continue to successfully serve our community.”

During her career, Patton has trained, mentored, and supervised staff while providing legal services to over 2000 clients, making a positive impact on the Charlotte community and the clients they serve.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the best managing attorneys at Legal Aid NC and Cindy is certainly included among those at the top of the list,” said Mervin. “Collaborative in nature, she was always available to answer questions or brainstorm a solution. She also gave me the necessary autonomy to independently lead my team according to my expertise.”


Category: Media release

White House Official joins celebration for community health workers

Raleigh, N.C. – Thursday, March 23rd marked 13 years since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. The landmark legislation has survived numerous challenges and attempts to repeal it. This past Open Enrollment Period, over 800,000 North Carolinians enrolled in a private individual health plan through the Affordable Care Act. This breaks the previous record by over 120,000 enrollees.

The NC Navigator Consortium celebrated this record-breaking achievement by hosting a luncheon at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh. The luncheon honored the achievements of community health organizations and non-profits across the state. The NC Navigator Consortium, a project of Legal Aid of NC, is a non-profit organization with the goal of connecting as many North Carolinians as possible to health coverage. The 60 partner organizations in attendance have assisted the NC Navigator Consortium’s outreach and enrollment efforts over the past 13 years. Eastern Regional Director, Angela Cameron, organized the event.

The ceremony also included speeches from high-profile guests. White House Appointed official, Antrell Tyson from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offered his congratulations to the Navigators and community organizers present. “The numbers speak for themselves,” said Tyson, “”it reflects the hard work and dedication you all committed to this aligned cause.” He transmitted a celebratory message on behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration and lauded the administration’s American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act for lowering the cost of premiums.

Alicia Davis, the Director of Legislative Affairs was able to deliver good news from Governor Cooper’s office. “Just hours ago,” Davis beamed “House Bill 76 was approved.” This announcement was met by cheers from the community health workers. The “Access to Health Care Options” bill expands Medicaid, effectively eliminating the “Medicaid Gap” and broadening access to healthcare for the populations these organizations serve. There could be no better news for groups dedicated to eliminating barriers to coverage.

Alexander DeAbreu from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave a presentation on the fast-approaching “Medicaid Unwinding”. At the onset of the pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), requiring Medicaid programs to not revoke anyone’s access to coverage in the middle of a health crisis. The protections required by the FFCRA expire this year, removing hundreds of thousands of people from Medicaid.

The CMS Outreach Specialist emphasized the importance of connecting to those affected and preventing them from being blindsided by this process. Navigators are preparing for the influx of people who may need access to Marketplace health plans.

The event concluded with an award ceremony for longtime partners who have gone above and beyond. Cameron and NC Navigator Consortium Director, Mark Van Arnam relayed anecdotes of how these longtime allies hosted events, made referrals and assisted in healthcare outreach over the past 13 years. The recipients of the Affordable Care Act Champion Awards were Urban Ministries of Wake County, Advance Community Health, Alliance Medical Ministry, Dress for Success, and Martin Street Baptist Church, the host site for the luncheon. 

The NC Navigator Consortium is the only federally funded entity of its kind in North Carolina, supported in part by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Cone Health Foundation. Learn more at, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Members of the Consortium are Access East, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Cumberland HealthNET, HealthCare Access, HealthNet Gaston, Kintegra Health, NC Field and Pisgah Legal Services. The Consortium is led by Legal Aid of North Carolina.

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. Learn more at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.


The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity number CA-NAV-23-001 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.

Category: Media release

Charlotte, N.C. – United by a common cause, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (Advocacy Center), and the North Carolina Justice Center, are working together to obtain legal relief for immigrant victims of crime amidst significant delays in U Visa application processing.  

Over 150 victims of crime have filed suit in Nebraska and Vermont against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) alleging that the agency has delayed the processing of the victims’ U Visa applications for years. The victims have cooperated with law enforcement agencies to prosecute the perpetrator, making them eligible for U Visa legal status in the United States. However, significant delays in the granting of the visas have left victims without justice. 

Congress enacted the U Visa for victims of crime in 2000 as a tool for law enforcement and a means to provide benefits to victims of crime who have been helpful to law enforcement. Benefits such as work authorization and legal status help victims achieve financial stability and independence. The years-long delays in processing the applications mean that victims are unable to work and support themselves and their families.  

“For the domestic violence victim who just reported the crimes of their abusive partner, the very same partner that paid the rent, it’s essential that work authorization is available as soon as possible, not five years from now,” said Rona Karacaova, Managing Attorney of Legal Aid NC’s Battered Immigrant Project. “These lawsuits will improve public safety and bring financial stability within victims’ reach like Congress intended.” 

Legal Aid of NC’s Battered Immigrant Project, the Advocacy Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, the NC Justice Center, and Brad Banias of Banias Law, along with assistance from local counsel, Brett Stokes and Jill Martin-Diaz of the Vermont Immigrant Assistance Clinic at Vermont Law and Graduate School, filed the lawsuits against USCIS in Nebraska on Jan. 9 and Vermont on Feb. 2, 2023.  

The lawsuits seek agency action on the delayed cases, specifically employment authorization, protection against deportation, and travel documents for petitioners abroad in need of re-unification with their families in the U.S. The lawsuits are also the first of their kind brought on behalf of U visa petitioners en masse in Nebraska and Vermont. 

“We support the litigation filed by Legal Aid of NC, NC Justice Center, and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy on behalf of U visa petitioners,” said Sheriff Charles S. Blackwood on behalf of the Orange County, NC Sheriff’s Office. “Any victim who learns it will take years to receive a U visa is likely discouraged from applying. The potential benefits of obtaining lawful status through the process feel too remote and are therefore not an effective incentive to report any crime or voluntarily engage with a law enforcement officer. Reluctance on the part of any portion of the community to report crime jeopardizes everyone’s safety and complicates our ability to protect the most vulnerable members of society.” 

Legal Aid NC’s Battered Immigrant Project, the Advocacy Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, and the North Carolina Justice Center advocate for immigrant survivors. The lawsuits are intended to compel the USCIS to follow Congress’s intent to protect immigrant victims of crime and provide law enforcement effective tools to investigate and prosecute serious criminal activity.  


Category: Media release

WILMINGTON—The New Hanover County Bar Association and Legal Aid of North Carolina honored 23 local attorneys for their pro bono service to clients of our Wilmington office from 2020-2022. The attorneys were honored at the bar association’s luncheon in Wilmington on February 21. The list of honorees is below.

Ashley M. Coghill, an attorney in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner LLP, received the Addison Hewlett Jr. Award for Exemplary Pro Bono Service in 2020-2022. Her name will be placed on a plaque on the wall next to the elevators in the New Hanover County Courthouse with previous recipients of the award.

Addison Hewlett Jr. was a Wilmington attorney who served as president of the New Hanover County Bar Association in 1948. To honor Hewlett’s work serving those in need, the award is given to an attorney who serves the community with selfless dedication to promoting equal justice for the disadvantaged in New Hanover County.

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Wilmington office provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties. If you are an attorney interested in providing pro bono service to clients of our Wilmington office, please visit or contact Richard Klein, regional manager of our southeast region, at

New Hanover County pro bono honorees

  • Gina D. Cecil
  • Ashley M. Coghill
  • Kathleen L. Eaton
  • Christian B. Felden
  • William C. Hurley
  • Paula A. Kohut
  • Steven M. Laird
  • Andrew Lanier
  • Aaron D. Lindquist
  • Kevin L. Littlejohn II
  • Emily A. McNamara
  • Sara A. Miller
  • Sarah E. Morin-Gage
  • Ryan H. Niland
  • Celecia M. Phillips
  • Emily Jones Queen
  • Anne J. Randall
  • Jennifer M. Roden
  • Jennifer D. Scott
  • James L. Seay, III
  • Kristina F. Smith
  • Kimberly Baxley Smithwick
  • Sandra D. Watts

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 Want to stay in the pro bono loop? Join our email list or follow #LANCprobono on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Category: Media release

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 Want to stay in the pro bono loop? Join our email list or follow #LANCprobono on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Category: Media release

High stakes in small claims court

Photo of McGuireWoods attorney Dylan Bensinger.

The McGuireWoods website describes Dylan Bensinger, an attorney in its Charlotte office, as a “high-stakes commercial litigator.” At first glance, a residential eviction case might seem worlds away from his typical work—but Dylan doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s definitely not the kind of commercial litigation that I do most days,” said Dylan, who recently won an eviction case for us pro bono, “but the case was certainly high stakes for the client. He was at risk of losing where he lived. That would be pretty high stakes for anyone.”

Our client’s troubles started in 2021 when, amidst the economic chaos wrought by the pandemic, he could no longer afford to pay his rent in full. Thankfully, the nationwide eviction moratorium then in place saved him from being put out on the street.

By the spring of 2022, however, when our client came to Legal Aid NC for help, the moratorium had expired, he owed thousands in back rent, his landlord wanted him out, and he had just lost his eviction hearing in small claims court.

Thankfully, his situation wasn’t hopeless. For one, unlike many Legal Aid NC clients, he knew he had the right to appeal the court’s ruling. Even more unusual, he successfully filed the paperwork himself. He also understood that he needed real legal help to actually win his appeal—and he knew to come to us for that help.

While eviction cases are bread and butter for our staff attorneys—housing is either our largest or second-largest practice area, depending on the year—the need for legal help in this area is so great that we rely on pro bono volunteers to help meet the demand.

Dylan came to us by way of the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership, a project launched in 2018 by pro bono leaders from the Queen City’s most prominent companies and law firms, including McGuireWoods. Partnership organizations work with our Charlotte office and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy to identify and tackle Charlotte residents’ most pressing legal needs, which include eviction.

Through Charlotte Triage, Dylan learned about our pro bono programs and connected with O’Shauna Hunter, the head of the housing unit in our Charlotte office. When Dylan’s client came to our Charlotte office for help, Dylan agreed to take the case—his first pro bono housing case ever.

Dylan dove in headfirst, consulting with his client and studying North Carolina landlord-tenant law. He even went to small claims court to watch the eviction process in action.

“I was immediately struck by how few people showed up with attorneys,” Dylan said. “It seems like almost no one who goes through this process has a lawyer. It was also obvious how big a difference having counsel makes in the process. Without O’Shauna and me in our client’s corner, I think the outcome would have been very different for him.”

Throughout the case, O’Shauna served as Dylan’s mentor, consulting with him about housing law, case strategy, client communication and anything else he wanted to discuss.

“This being my first housing case, I would have been more apprehensive if I had been thrown into the fire completely on my own,” Dylan said. “It was great to have O’Shauna on my side. She was a huge help to me and was instrumental in successfully resolving this case. Everyone I know who has worked with Legal Aid NC attorneys, like O’Shauna, is very grateful for their help, so thank you to O’Shauna and her colleagues.”

“Dylan really went above and beyond to ensure that he knew the law and was pursuing the strategy that would be most beneficial to his client,” O’Shauna said. “The impressive outcome he achieved is testament to his dedication in this case.”

In fall 2022, after spending tens of hours over the course of the preceding months working on the case, Dylan and his client’s landlord reached a settlement agreement that left our client in a better position than he could have hoped for without legal representation.

As part of the settlement, the landlord agreed to vacate the small claims judgment against Dylan’s client, waive the thousands of dollars in back rent and provide a neutral landlord reference going forward. While Dylan’s client did have to find a new home as part of the agreement—he was able to move in with family while he looked for a new place of his own—the importance of the outcome cannot be overstated.

“I think it was a great outcome,” Dylan said. “We didn’t go to court and win, but the result is a big win for the client, who was looking at an eviction and a lot of back rent that he owed to his landlord. We were able to negotiate a settlement that wiped away all of that to the extent that it was possible. From what I understand, everything is going well for him so far. He walked away with as much of a clean sheet as he could.”

While this was Dylan’s first pro bono housing case, it definitely won’t be his last.

“There are people at my firm who are really dedicated to pro bono service. Angie Zimmern and Mark Kinghorn here in our Charlotte office”—Angie is the firm’s Pro Bono Director and Mark is a member of the Charlotte Triage housing and eviction team—”are very good at getting people involved and are always coming up with new pro bono opportunities. I hope to develop a similar reputation for dedication to pro bono.”

Here at Legal Aid NC, we have no doubt that he will.

About Dylan

  • Associate, McGuireWoods, Charlotte, 2021-Present
  • Clerk, US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Charlotte, 2020-2021
  • Clerk, US District Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles, 2018-2020
  • Associate, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Los Angeles, 2017-2018
  • JD, Magna Cum Laude, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., 2017
  • BA, Journalism and English, University of Miami, 2013
  • Native of Los Angeles, California

Are you an attorney who wants to be a pro bono hero for North Carolinians in need? To learn more about our programs and sign up to join our mission for justice, visit our Pro Bono page. Want to stay in the loop on all things pro bono? Join our email list or follow #LANCprobono on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.