Thomas P. Holderness, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson in Charlotte whose practice focuses on business disputes regarding claims of money mismanagement, contract disputes and taxes, has been named the 2009 Legal Aid of North Carolina Pro Bono Attorney of the Year in Mecklenburg County.
Holderness has reached settlements and brought quick resolutions to a number of landlord-tenant disputes in the last year on behalf of Legal Aid and is involved in a number of other pro bono initiatives and community activities. Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit 501(c)3 law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people to help ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.
“It gives you perspective and keeps you grounded,” Holderness said of his pro bono work. “There is the obvious reward you get from helping people, but it just seems to me that those who don’t have good access to the legal system often find themselves needing greater assistance. It’s important to me, as well as to Legal Aid, that everyone have access to legal resources.”
In addition to his landlord-tenant resolution work, Holderness also was active in helping to research, catalogue and coordinate a broad range of legal services for residents at Hall House, a formerly vacant 12-story building in Charlotte that was converted to serve as temporary shelter for homeless families. Holderness was part of a team that identified and resolved a number of varying outstanding legal issues for the residents.
“Tommy Holderness is an extraordinary volunteer because of the amazing quantity and quality of his work,” said Theodore “Ted” Fillette, senior managing attorney of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte office. “He has obtained court orders to protect several victims of domestic violence from dangerous abusers. He’s assisted very low-income consumers who suffered terrible housing conditions obtain justice. He is still engaged with a number of homeless families in Hall House to remove credit barriers for their returning to the housing market. He has made a great difference in the lives of many needy people in this community and continues to do so.”
In addition to his work for Legal Aid, Holderness also has been an active youth sports coach for the last 20 years, most recently coaching his children’s basketball teams, and he is an Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.