Robinson Bradshaw is committed to our clients and to the communities in which we do business. Our firm has a strong tradition of public service to a wide range of charitable, professional and community organizations, dating back to our founding in 1960. The firm encourages and supports our lawyers who give back to the community through volunteerism, leadership and financial support.
Robinson Bradshaw has long recognized a civic and professional responsibility to address the unmet legal needs of the indigent and disadvantaged population. We provide pro bono services to individuals and organizations that assist this underserved population, including matters referred by Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., Mecklenburg County Bar Domestic Violence program, Legal Services for the Elderly, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and the Council for Children’s Rights.
Lawyers at the firm also provide pro bono assistance to nonprofit charitable organizations in the community. Services include corporate organization, financing, real estate acquisitions and other business transactions.
Additionally, the firm performs pro bono criminal work, particularly in the areas of appointed criminal appeals and post-conviction capital representation.
Select pro bono experience includes:
- A team of Robinson Bradshaw attorneys, led by Adam K. Doerr, successfully litigated the reopening of the deadline for low-income families to apply for Extra Credit Grants, $335 in COVID-19 relief aid meant for parents to offset costs of childcare or remote learning. The firm and its community partners also facilitated the second application process. As a result, nearly 25,000 low-income parents applied for the aid in the second window, and more than $5 million in relief aid was distributed to North Carolina families that needed it the most.
- Julian H. Wright Jr. led a team on behalf of the tenants at Lake Arbor Apartments, an affordable housing community, to bring a suit against the complex’s owners after they illegally collected rent from the tenants while maintaining squalid conditions that violated city code. The firm reached a settlement with the owners, securing $547,000 in funds that were distributed among more than 100 tenants.
- Robert E. Harrington, Erik R. Zimmerman and Travis S. Hinman filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in two high-profile cases concerning important issues of constitutional law. Robinson Bradshaw and another firm represented the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on a pro bono basis in the cases concerning the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. The Court's resolution of these issues will likely have a lasting impact on minority voting rights.
- Robinson Bradshaw established a group of attorneys to represent domestic violence victims in Mecklenburg County’s "50-B" hearings in domestic violence court and defense of tenants in landlord/tenant disputes.
- The firm was involved in the creation of the Children and Family Services Center in uptown Charlotte. Robinson Bradshaw attorneys handled all the legal work for this Center, from incorporation to leasing to loans. The Center has become a national model for the effective delivery of services to urban poor families and children.
- Our firm is a part of Charlotte Triage, a task force of law firms and companies designed to address a wide range of unmet civil legal needs in the community, including evictions; criminal record expunctions, which can make it hard to find work; and assistance with health insurance enrollment. The goal of the project is to help Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina fill gaps in services due to limited resources.
- The firm served as lead counsel in Hyatt v. Shalala, a class action for North Carolina's disabled citizens. In partnership with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, the firm prosecuted the case through its 20-year run in the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, approximately 150,000 North Carolinians won new disability hearings under new standards, and the Social Security Administration revised a national regulation on disability. The firm devoted more than 4,500 hours to this case and donated attorneys' fees exceeding $450,000 to the Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Mecklenburg County Bar Foundation. For our advocacy in Hyatt, Robinson Bradshaw was the first law firm in the nation to receive the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award.
Beyond pro bono work, the firm actively encourages its individuals to pursue service work for organizations that appeal to their unique interests. This is reflected in a diverse set of leadership positions with boards of bar associations, boards of education and various environmental, charitable, religious and civic organizations. To encourage community service, employees are given a day to volunteer at an organization of their choice.
Our firm donates time, as well as our resources by providing financial support through sponsorships, donations and partnerships. Recent examples include a commitment to the Endowment Campaign for the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, a 10-year commitment for the Carolina Theatre renovation project, sponsorship of the 50th Anniversary celebration for the Carolinas Center for Legal Advocacy and donations to organizations including the Women’s Impact Fund, Safe Alliance, Atrium Health Foundation and the Urban Land Institute.
Awards & Recognition
Robinson Bradshaw and our attorneys are frequently recognized for community involvement. Examples of awards and recognition include:
- The American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award
- The North Carolina Bar Association's Law Firm Pro Bono Award
- United Way’s Firm of the Year Award for the Legal Industry Cup Competition in charitable giving
- Outstanding Firm Pro Bono Service Awards from Legal Aid of North Carolina and Council for Children's Rights
- Brent A. Torstrick was the 2019 recipient of the William Thorp Pro Bono Service Award given by the North Carolina Bar Association.
- Will Packard was named the Mecklenburg County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year
- John R. Wester received the Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award from Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Council for Children's Rights.
- Julian H. Wright Jr. and Jason L. Wright received the Outstanding Individual Pro Bono Service Award from Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte.
- Several attorneys have received the Citizen Lawyer Award, presented by the North Carolina Bar Association to lawyers who provide exemplary public service to their communities. Firm recipients include Robert E. Harrington, Brandon M. Lofton, Angelique R. Vincent-Hamacher, John R. Wester and Julian H. Wright Jr.
- Sixteen Robinson Bradshaw attorneys are members of the 2020 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, an initiative of the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center. Members each reported at least 50 legal service hours provided to pro bono clients last year, an aspirational threshold set by the state's Rules for Professional Conduct.
Public & Bar Service
Five of our lawyers – Russell M. Robinson II, Robert C. Sink, A. Ward McKeithen, Mark W. Merritt and Robert E. Harrington – have served as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. Robert Sink and Mark Merritt previously served as president of the North Carolina State Bar. And, John R. Wester served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association.
In addition, Richard A. Vinroot was a member of the Charlotte City Council from 1983-91 and mayor of the city of Charlotte from 1991-95. And, Ward McKeithen served as a member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education from 1976-88.