NCBA member Kevin Pratt understands that pro bono work is an opportunity to demystify the legal process for clients and pave a way for communication that can resolve clients’ issues. Pratt works on consumer cases with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Lawyer on the Line program, and he also volunteers on landlord-tenant cases with Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte.
In his pro bono work, he finds that information gaps exist between clients and their corporate adversaries, and with representation, the free flow of information allows the parties to better understand the dispute and resolve it amicably.
Recently, Pratt represented an elderly, disabled husband and father who was being sued by a creditor attempting to renew a previously obtained judgment. The client is a cancer survivor, and now has significant health problems resulting from an adverse reaction to chemotherapy.
Pratt raised unfair debt collection claims with opposing counsel, and ultimately negotiated a settlement resulting in the lawsuit being dismissed with prejudice. This outcome helped clear up the client’s credit history, will allow him to obtain better housing, and prevented the judgment from being renewed for an additional decade.
When asked about his pro bono experience, Pratt stressed that the work was about the clients and not about himself. In addition to the benefit to the client, Pratt shared that “pro bono work is a platform for attorneys to identify the intersection of existential fulfillment and opportunity. That intersection is different for everyone, but often, attorneys do not find it consistently in their day-to-day work. Understanding that pro bono work may help identify an actualized purpose is an under-appreciated benefit of serving pro bono clients.” Additionally, Pratt noted an incidental value of pro bono work in the “impact it has on improving the perception of lawyers and the practice of law with those people who may not believe in the system.”
Pratt is the founder and Chief Viability Officer of CoLaw, a subscription-based law practice management company in Charlotte. CoLaw connects lawyers to flexible private office solutions and then provides administrative support for those attorneys on a month-to-month or project basis. Beyond his work at CoLaw, Pratt is a member of the NCBA Future of Law Committee, a Board Member of BarCARES, and supports the work of the North Carolina Civil Collaborative Law Association. Pratt was recognized as a member of the NC Pro Bono Honor Society in 2017 and 2018.