MCB VLP Volunteer Spotlight
Sean F. Perrin
This month's MCB VLP spotlight is on former VLP Committee Co-chair Sean F. Perrin of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. In addition to leading the VLP Committee for more than two years, he has spent many hours assisting Legal Aid of North Carolina clients on landlord/tenant issues and LANC staff in assigning cases through Womble Carlyle's & LANC's collaborative Landlord/Tenant Project. He has dedicated so much time that he is a member of the MCB Pro Bono Honor Roll which recognizes those members of the Bar who have donated at least 20 hours of pro bono time within one calendar year.
MCB VLP: Current Employer / Length of time with that employer?
SFP: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice / 8 years
MCB VLP: Area of Practice / Expertise?
SFP: Business Litigation / Public Official Defense
MCB VLP: Law School / Law School Graduation Year?
SFP: UNC-Chapel Hill, 1995
MCB VLP: How did you discover this pro bono issue?
SFP: I did legal work at Blue Ridge Legal Services while an undergrad at James Madison University and enjoyed this work. I am a member of the Mecklenburg County Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program, and Ted Fillette of Legal Aid, who is also a member, indicated that there was a need for help with landlord tenant work.
MCB VLP: What is a typical case like?
SFP: A typical case involves a tenant who is being evicted by a landlord due to nonpayment of rent. Most of the time the tenant has defenses -- like retaliatory eviction or violations of the implied warranty of habitability or unfair and deceptive trade practices -- which they may not be aware of until they contact Legal Aid.
MCB VLP: How many of these types of pro bono cases do you typically handle at one time?
SFP: Approximately 3-4.
MCB VLP: How do you prepare for handling such cases?
SFP: Ted Fillette and Linda Johnson of Legal Aid of North Carolina provided a booklet and sample motions which is very useful.
MCB VLP: Did you participate in any particular training so that you could handle these cases?
SFP: I participated in landlord/tenant CLE.
MCB VLP: What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases?
SFP: My hope is that law firms will participate in the landlord tenant program established by Legal Aid of North Carolina, and start volunteering one time per month to assist Legal Aid with these cases. I would also hope that landlords will start providing people with habitable places to live, particularly in these economic times.
MCB VLP: What is the best advice you've received during your legal career and do you now give to others?
SFP: Treat everyone like they are your boss' mother.
MCB VLP: What is the most challenging part of your career?
SFP: Trying to bill hours while having four very active children.
MCB VLP: What is your favorite part of your current job?
SFP: Trying cases.
If you are interested in learning about the Landlord/Tenant Project, or starting one at your firm, please contact Legal Aid of North Carolina or MCB VLP Coordinator Heather Blackley at email@example.com. Volunteers are needed to screen cases as well as take those cases that have been accepted by Legal Aid of North Carolina. Training is available through MCB CLE and a replay can be scheduled at your firm.