Robinson Bradshaw lawyers have long recognized a civil and professional responsibility to address the unmet legal needs of the indigent and disadvantaged population in the Mecklenburg County area and beyond. The members of the firm are actively committed to providing pro bono services to those individuals and organizations that assist this underserved population, including pro bono matters referred to the firm by Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., Mecklenburg County Bar Domestic Violence program, Legal Services for the Elderly, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and the Council for Children's Rights.
In the specific area of domestic violence protection, the firm has organized a group of its attorneys to represent domestic violence victims in Mecklenburg County's "50-B" hearings in domestic violence court. The firm also performs pro bono criminal work, particularly in the areas of appointed criminal appeals and post-conviction capital representation. For the full breadth of its pro bono work, the firm and individual lawyers have received multiple pro bono awards from national, state and local bar associations. Recent awards include the North Carolina Bar Association's 2010 Pro Bono Award for Large Law Firms, the William L. Thorp Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, awarded to Thomas P. Holderness, and the Mecklenburg County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, awarded to William K. Packard.
Lawyers at the firm are also active in providing pro bono assistance to nonprofit charitable organizations in the community. Robinson Bradshaw volunteers provide business services, such as corporate organization, financing, real estate acquisitions and other business transactions for these nonprofit organizations. The firm was involved in the creation of the Child and Family Services Center located in uptown Charlotte. Robinson Bradshaw attorneys handled all of the legal work from incorporation to leasing matters to loans for this Center, which has become a national model for the effective delivery of services to urban poor families and children.
The firm also has served as lead counsel in Patrick Hyatt, et al. v. Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services (now styled Hyatt v. Barnhart), a class action lawsuit challenging the termination and denial of Social Security benefits to thousands of disabled North Carolinians. Originally filed in 1983, the firm's lawyers have prosecuted this case through all levels of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court of the United States. As a result of more than two decades of court rulings, over 80,000 North Carolinians became eligible for full rehearings in which the potential recovery in disability benefits was estimated over $470,000,000 for one year alone. The firm has devoted more than 4,500 hours of its lawyers' time to this case and has donated attorneys' fees exceeding $450,000 to the Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Mecklenburg County Bar Foundation. For its advocacy in Hyatt, the firm was the first law firm in the nation to receive the American Bar Association's pro bono Publico Award.