I am an Assistant Public Defender in Mecklenburg County. I have worked here since graduating from Wake Forest School of Law in 2016. I represent indigent clients who have been charged with misdemeanors and felony property crimes. I love working closely with clients and helping them navigate the legal system.
What is your most recent pro bono experience?
Since graduating, my main pro bono focus has been on helping to establish a free expunction clinic in Mecklenburg County. Partnering with the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Clerk’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, and the Pro Bono Resource Center, we have created a clinic that helps hundreds of people every year who are looking to get their criminal record expunged. In North Carolina, even dismissed charges are still listed on a person’s record and visible to employers during background checks. We help inform clinic participants of expunction eligibility and, if participants are eligible, we help them expunge their records.
How has engaging in pro bono legal service enriched your career, or enriched you personally or professionally?
Pro bono work is the soul of legal representation. The law was created to serve the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and people of color. Pro bono helps to empower the marginalized in our society by giving them a voice they otherwise would not have. It has reminded me why I became an attorney and why we need more attorneys dedicated to helping the voiceless.
Of what moment(s) from your pro bono work are you the most proud?
That’s a tough one. In law school, I worked with a clinic that helped people who wanted to file bankruptcy. Most of these people were over their heads in debt due to medical bills and desperately needed relief. Bankruptcy allowed them to regain some control and they were so appreciative. That was my first experience seeing how the law can help people and it opened my eyes to greater structural problems in our country, but also how you can make a tremendous difference on a personal level.
What advice would you give someone who has not yet provided any pro bono work?
I know it’s hard for a lot of lawyers to carve out time for pro bono work. They already work a crazy amount of hours and don’t want to spend the small amount of free time practicing more law. But what I have found is pro bono work is restorative and rejuvenating. It is not work in the traditional sense. It does take some effort to commit to pro bono, but I rarely talk to anyone who has anything less than a positive, uplifting experience.