Pro Bono: Making the Choice to Make an Impact
From humble beginnings to the law firm we've become, we remain devoted to helping our communities thrive.
The attorneys of Nexsen Pruet have long understood the importance of choosing to support the communities where we live and work. It is a commitment that dates back to our early years, when Julian Nexsen, for whom our law firm is named, provided legal services free of charge to a wide range of charitable and nonprofit organizations in South Carolina.
Today, we proudly carry on this rich tradition of assisting those who may have limited means to hire legal counsel or may be facing insurmountable obstacles as they seek access to justice.
Our attorneys provide pro bono services to citizens throughout the Carolinas and to organizations dedicated to delivering legal services to those less fortunate. We aim to identify pro bono clients who have both great need and who are most likely to benefit from our capabilities and experience. Cases and matters span a wide range of practice areas and are handled by teams from all eight firm locations.
Nexsen Pruet’s Pro Bono Committee reviews and approves all pro bono work to ensure it reflects firm policies and goals, while representing meaningful, powerful, and enduring opportunities to serve.
Here are a few examples of how our attorneys are making the choice to make an impact:
- In May of 2019, the Charleston County Housing Court became the first of its kind in the state of South Carolina. Melissa Spence has volunteered there since the beginning. The new court was established to specifically address evictions before three Charleston County Magistrate Courts, and the program helps renters learn about their rights, and encourages open and honest communication between tenants and landlords. Spence’s work in the housing court includes defending clients against unjust evictions, negotiating leases with landlords, and requesting extensions to help tenants catch up on rent payments. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in eviction filings is expected in the coming months as people struggle making ends meet. Spence has recruited other Nexsen Pruet attorneys and they have already taken a training course to be able to assist. Click here to learn more.
- Grant Close provides his services to the Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, which works to improve the financial health of hard-working people by helping them to purchase a home when they would not otherwise qualify for traditional loans. For over 4 years, Grant has assisted Habitat Greenville pro bono to help it dedicate as many of its resources as possible to fulfilling its important mission. He assists the organization with a myriad of employment law issues form day-to-day matters to strategic direction related to its employees. In February 2020, Habitat Greenville showed is appreciation by presenting Grant with the Strong Foundation award, which recognized his pro bono legal work as a foundational strength to Habitat’s critical mention. Click here to learn more.
- Since 2008, Margaret Burnham has volunteered over 240 hours as a Guildford County Teen Court Judge. The court serves as a local diversion program for youth offenders ages 6 to 17 whose behavior constitutes a misdemeanor violation of the law for Class I, II, or III misdemeanors and who are enrolled in an educational program. The court’s mission of creating change in youth on a personal level by leading them to understand the consequences of their actions and learn about self and community responsibility is what drove Margret to offer her serves and remain as a dedicated volunteer for the past 11 years. Margaret is known as the famous “Judge” who pauses court cases to take youth and their parents for a private meeting where attitudes quickly change. She truly believes in the mission of Teen Court and is always supportive of staff and volunteers is and compassionate and encouraging to the youth that pass through the program. Click here to learn more.
- Jay DeVaney participates in the Pro Bono Disaster Legal Services for Legal Aid of North Carolina. To date, Jay has represented six persons whose homes were flooded by Hurricane Florence. In some cases these people were forced to vacate their dwellings and needed alternative living arrangements. Jay has also handled FEMA issues, dealt with landlords and helped clients straighten out titles to their property so they could get financing from federal agencies or traditional lending sources. For the Greensboro chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Jay has served 6 years on the Board of Directors, the last two as Chair and now serves as a committee member of the Building Programs Committee. He has served on that committee for over 15 years and he has also served on the Habitat Advisory Board composed of former chairs since its inception five years ago. Click here to learn more.
- As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum and a member of the Greensboro special needs community, Brian Pearce was excited when he learned about the STAR, Supported Therapies and Recreation center, and the great work that the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro is doing there not for just people with down syndrome, but for all persons with special needs. The Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro is a local to Greensboro non-profit committed to enriching the lives of individuals with Down Syndrome by connecting and educating families and promoting awareness in our community. As part of this mission, the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro has formed and opened The STAR. The STAR: Supported Therapies and Recreation is a center that offers free therapies, recreational, social, and educational events, inclusive opportunities and more to individuals with disabilities throughout the greater Greensboro Area. Featuring a sensory gym, fully accessible kitchen, and a comfortable, welcoming vibe, The STAR is quickly becoming a vibrant, joyful part of Greensboro's dis- and differently-abled community. Click here to learn more.
- When Norman Shearin came to Nexsen Pruet in 2017, he brought with him a pro bono case he’s been working on for more than 35 years. Norm, with assistance from Lisa Sumner, Brian Pearce and Brian Lewis, serves as pro bono counsel for a family that has lived on a coastal tract of North Carolina for nearly a century, spanning multiple generations. In 1921, the family inherited the property from an ancestor who died intestate and has resided on the property continuously since that time. More than a decade ago, a Delaware corporation owned by unrelated parties purchased quitclaim deeds as a speculative investment from two remote descendants of a common ancestor. In 2006, the corporation filed a partition action in Currituck County, North Carolina. Since then, two appeals in the action have reached the North Carolina Supreme Court, resulting in opinions that have been discussed in CLE presentations, manuscripts and legal treatises. The case is back in Currituck County on remand and trial preparation is underway. Click here to learn more.
- For the last several months, Ron Jones has been providing financial consultation and restructuring advice to Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corporation, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit organization that delivers health care and human services to the residents of the Sea Islands and surrounding communities to sustain healthy lifestyles and living conditions. Services are primarily for the poor and indigent persons and include Home Health Care, Medical Adult Daycare, Home Hospice Care and Durable Medical Equipment. It is DHEC/Medicare certified and licensed and owns a 90-bed nursing home facility operated on its campus. Click here to learn more.