Nelson Mullins Providing Assistance for Hurricane Florence Legal Needs

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP is providing funding for an attorney position dedicated to Hurricane Florence relief through the N.C. Equal Access to Justice Commission’s NC Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC). The donation is being made in honor of Winston-Salem partner Gray Wilson, who recently became president of the N.C. State Bar.

As a result of the Sept. 14 storm, at least 34 N.C. counties have been declared disaster areas, with a combined legal aid eligible population of 639,093 residents from among the total population of more than 2.6 million. Disasters leave in their wake myriad civil legal issues that, if not addressed early on, can lead to more costly problems in the long run.

PBRC and Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) are working collaboratively to address civil legal needs in the impacted areas. The funding will support the organizations in hiring Katherine Asaro, most recently law clerk to Chief Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. and Senior District Judge N. Carlton Tilley, Jr. for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. 

Ms. Asaro will be coordinating pro bono activities in response to Hurricane Florence.  This will initially include coordinating a volunteer attorney presence at Disaster Recovery Centers to answer legal questions and organizing Know Your Rights presentations, pro bono attorney trainings, and brief advice and counsel clinics. Her position also is funded by a grant from NC Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts and additional donations from Ellis & Winters, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, and Troutman Sanders.

“Katherine will engage interested volunteers in a meaningful way in the impacted areas,” said Jennifer M. Lechner, executive director of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission. “The goal of this coordinated pro bono response is to match the volunteer with the right combination of their legal experience and the community’s legal needs. A staff attorney dedicated to the relief effort is needed to capture the full volunteerism offered to meet the disaster response.”

“It is a monumental task to provide specialized pro bono program coverage in 34 counties,” said Nelson Mullins partner George Cauthen, who oversees the firm’s charitable giving. “We are pleased to assist these organizations, which are already strapped financially and personnel-wise, achieve more access to legal services for those who otherwise would not be able to afford them. We have been an annual donor to LANC for many years and are pleased with the results of that excellent organization. ”