Bank of America partners with Legal Aid to help the local community

Sometimes those who need legal aid the most have the greatest difficulty affording it.

That’s why employees across Bank of America’s Legal Department are actively involved in providing pro bono work ― a Latin term signifying free, public-interest legal services — in the communities we serve.

As part of this effort, Bank of America recently offered Charlotte attorneys a unique opportunity to leave their current role for three months to work exclusively with Legal Aid of North Carolina, an organization that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income individuals and families to help remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.

Assistant General Counsel Brett Shockley

Assistant General Counsel Brett Shockley was one of the many who raised his hand as part of our broader participation in Charlotte Triage, an effort by Charlotte businesses and law firms to help address critical legal problems confronting city residents.

Brett served at Legal Aid as a member of the housing team, representing tenants in small claims and district courts. In one case, he prevented his client from losing a valuable housing subsidy as a result of him breaking a minor rule in the subsidy program's administrative procedures.

During their initial consultation, Brett realized that his client had a cognitive disability, which explained why he violated the program's rules: he couldn’t understand them.

Citing his client’s challenges, Brett was able to stop the eviction, and work with the landlord and housing authority to reinstate his client’s subsidy.

"Working with Legal Aid has been an eye-opening experience," Brett said. "I have a much greater appreciation of the struggles that low-income people face on a day-to-day basis."

Legal Department employees honored for their service to others

Earlier this year, the Mecklenburg County Bar Association (NC) honored members of our Legal Department and their community partners with its Outstanding Collaborative Pro Bono Project award for participation in the Supporting Housing Communities Day of Legal Advocacy project, which provided free legal services for more than 50 members of the Charlotte community who are transitioning out of homelessness.

“We are committed to doing our part to assist all members of our community, but especially those who are most vulnerable and have the greatest need,” said Global General Counsel David Leitch.

“Our team gives their time and expertise to assist on a wide-range of legal issues, including anti-discrimination in housing, estate planning, helping veterans access their benefits, tax preparation, and child custody issues.”

During this project, more than 40 employees of the Legal Department joined other members of the Charlotte legal community to volunteer their time and expertise to assist clients with legal issues that may prevent them from finding permanent housing, such as criminal record expungements, health care powers of attorney, and driver’s license reinstatements. This was the third year Bank of America volunteers gave their time to the effort.

Dawn Sewell, a process design consultant in the Legal Department and a team leader for the project, underscored the longstanding commitment of her colleagues to pro bono work. “The expectation of pro bono service is set at our department’s highest levels of management,” explains Dawn. “We should be very proud of those who answer the call to give of their time and energy. We have the power to improve the lives of our least-represented neighbors in real and practical ways.”

Originally published 12/16/19