Tell me about your regular practice area: Where do you practice and what do you do? What do you love most about your job?
I am an Assistant General Counsel at UNC Greensboro. My current practice area is higher education law which encompasses a multitude of practice areas including employment, real estate, intellectual property, compliance and so much more. My focus is mostly on transactional matters, which often involves reviewing contracts for various departments on campus. What I love most about my job is that so much of my work supports the mission of the University, which ultimately serves our students. Education truly has the power to improve lives and I am proud that my work contributes to that end result.
What is your most recent pro bono experience?
I recently participated in the Driver’s License Restoration Project sponsored by the Pro Bono Resource Center. This was my third time working on this particular project and it is truly fulfilling to help individuals who are trying to help themselves. We were able to provide clients with valuable information about why their license was revoked and what they can do to fix it. Moreover, the Pro Bono Resource Center took it a step further and has been successful in petitioning courts to waive fines for many of the program participants across the state. Removing the financial barriers to reinstating a valid license allows drivers to drive legally, which benefits everyone.
How has engaging in pro bono legal service enriched your career, or enriched you personally or professionally?
I have been taught that “to whom much is given, much is required,” and I feel personally enriched when I use my legal training to benefit others who are plagued by problems rooted in poverty. I spent the first 12 years of my career as a criminal defense attorney where I helped clients who could pay for my representation, but after seeing so many defendants at the courthouse who needed additional services that public defenders were not allowed to provide, I realized I could use my knowledge to help them in a pro bono capacity as well.
Of what moment(s) from your pro bono work are you the most proud?
I am most proud of the numerous pro bono expunction petitions I successfully filed after signing up as a volunteer lawyer with Legal Aid in Greensboro. One particular case involved expunging a rape charge for a client who was found not guilty by a jury, but apartments would still not rent to him after seeing that charge (and disposition) on his record. When Legal Aid sent him to me, he was quasi-homeless after spending months in jail awaiting trial. He had to start his life over after that and having a clean record finally allowed him to begin again. He and so many of my pro bono expunction clients paid me with hugs after I assisted them in removing charges from their criminal records. I am most proud of those moments with happy and hopeful clients.
What advice would you give someone who has not yet provided any pro bono work?
I advise interested attorneys to get involved in providing pro bono work in one (or both) of the following ways: Either sign up for a program that trains lawyers to handle specific pro bono projects (like expunctions or providing advice about driving records), or select a project where you are already competent in the practice area and take on pro bono clients in addition to your paying clients (and provide them all with the same level of service). Lastly, seek out mentors if you ever feel stuck. I have always been happy to assist lawyers who reached out to me with questions regarding pro bono matters (criminal/traffic-related) and I would be glad to continue to serve as a resource.