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Representing Asylum Seekers, Defending Abused and Neglected Children, and Other Examples of Parker Poe's Pro Bono Impact

    News, Community
  • January 26, 2023

Over the past year, Parker Poe’s pro bono efforts have included representing Ukrainians and Afghans in asylum applications, helping to create a program to address financial instability for individuals returning from incarceration, and representing the interests of abused and neglected children in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Those are just a few ways our attorneys are committed to using their unique skills to serve our communities by offering free representation to those who need it. Below is additional detail on those efforts and other examples of our pro bono impact from the past year:

  • Providing legal assistance for Afghan and Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum. Raleigh associate Tiffany Burba organized the firm’s efforts to represent Afghan and Ukrainian refugees through multiple partnerships with Pisgah Legal Services, Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), other law firms, and companies. Charleston counsel Elizabeth Applegate Dieck, Raleigh counsel Miguel Manna, Raleigh associates Laura Goode and Zack Anstett, and Columbia associate Dayton Riddle are among the attorneys who represented asylum seekers. They provided legal services for Ukrainian and Afghan nationals in the U.S. to apply for asylum and temporary protected status. Tiffany Burba received the Parker Poe Pro Bono Leadership Award for her efforts in this area.
  • Representing abused and neglected children through the Guardian ad Litem program. Charlotte partner Will Esser coordinates the Guardian ad Litem cases that Parker Poe handles in North Carolina. Many of our attorneys take cases, including managing partner Tom Griffin; associate general counsel Maya Engle; Atlanta partner Cheryl Shaw and counsel Laurance Warco; Charleston associate Josh Umbarger; Raleigh partners Steve Carey and Bruce Thompson as well as associates Marie Farmer, Daniel Knight, Stacy Little, and Adam Setzer; and Charlotte partners Eric Cottrell, Ashley Edwards, and Kyle Musgrove. Our firm has a long history with the Guardian ad Litem program representing children before the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
  • Helping the formerly incarcerated get back on their feet. Charlotte partner Elizabeth Trenary played an extensive role in the creation of the Excel Pilot Program, which is a partnership between StepUp Durham, the City of Durham, the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the University of Pennsylvania, and Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The program provides formerly incarcerated individuals with a guaranteed income check each month, and it will evaluate guaranteed income’s effects on recidivism, employment, economic security, and income volatility. Elizabeth Trenary was a co-recipient of the Parker Poe Pro Bono Project Award for her efforts in this area. Robert Osborne also received the Parker Poe Pro Bono Project Award for his work on an appellate matter related to the First Amendment.
  • Championing the work of the Charlotte Triage Pro Bono Partnership. Our firm is an active supporter of Charlotte Triage, which involves the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte chapter, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, Husqvarna, and several law firms. Charlotte partner Nicholas Lee has served as a champion for Charlotte Triage’s expunction work for three years. He helps recruit, train, and support volunteers who represent low-income clients in expunging their criminal records and broadening their opportunities with work and housing. Nicholas represents expunction clients directly as well.
  • Advising on the title and sale of nearly 100 acres of property to the City of Decatur. Parker Poe Atlanta counsel Bob Stubbs assisted in the sale of the United Methodist Children’s Home. The nonprofit was founded in 1871 to establish a home and farm for children orphaned by the Civil War. The campus was sold to the City of Decatur, and the property was then annexed. A portion of the revenue from the $40 million sale was then used to purchase an apartment complex for the children who have aged out of the foster care program. This is the latest of many examples of Bob’s impact, as he has a robust history of pro bono service across his career. Bob received the Parker Poe Pro Bono Legacy Award.
  • Participating in a virtual legal advice clinic. In Parker Poe’s Atlanta office, attorneys spent an afternoon taking questions as part of the Georgia Free Legal Answers Help-a-thon. Participating attorneys worked in partnership with the Access to Justice Committee of the Georgia State Bar. They broke up into groups based on their practice areas and worked together to draft contracts, waivers, and policies. Atlanta associate Ashlynn Hutton received the Parker Poe Pro Bono Rising Star Award for her efforts to raise awareness of that and other pro bono opportunities in the Atlanta office.
  • Advising on the lease of a former church, Milner Presbyterian Church, in connection with a project with the Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation (DHIC), to develop affordable housing for senior citizens known as Milner Commons. Raleigh counsel Jake Parrott represented Milner Commons Mission Committee, formerly the Administrative Commission of the Presbytery of New Hope for Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church, in connection with the project. Jake handled various aspects of the pro bono work relating to deeds, real property titles, leasing, financing, zoning, and other legal issues. Demolition of Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church has occurred, and construction of the new 156 units of affordable housing is underway, with an estimated completion of the units in 2024.

Parker Poe maintains an active Pro Bono Committee that spearheads and coordinates initiatives across all eight of the firm’s offices. The firm also partners with clients and legal services nonprofits on pro bono opportunities, working closely with them to identify needs in our communities.

For any clients, nonprofits, or friends of the firm who are interested in partnering on pro bono efforts, please contact Pro Bono Committee Chair Michael Crook.