MCB VLP Spotlight
The Mecklenburg County Bar's Volunteer Lawyer Program dedicates its July 2009 spotlight to Clark Walton. Clark has recently begun working as an Assistant District Attorney in Mecklenburg County after practicing banking and finance law. Before accepting his role as an Assistant DA, Clark was heavily involved in two pro bono projects. We wish Clark luck in his new position!
Current Employer / number of years with current employer:
Several weeks ago I began work as an Assistant District Attorney in Mecklenburg County (the 26th Prosecutorial District). Prior to that, I worked as an associate for three years at Mayer Brown LLP in Charlotte and one year at Nelson Mullins in Charlotte.
Area of Practice / Expertise:
As an Assistant DA, I am developing expertise in criminal law. My primary legal experience has been in banking and finance.
Law School / Law School Graduation Year:
Georgetown University Law Center, 2005
How did you discover this pro bono issue / matter?
There are two major pro bono projects I've worked on during the past year. (As an Assistant DA I cannot practice law outside of my employment, therefore I am not handling any pro bono matters going forward.) I've been working on Wills for Heroes, a national project begun by a group of young lawyers after the September 11 terrorist attacks, to provide free estate planning documents to first responders.
I have also worked on the List Project. My former firm, Mayer Brown, began participation in this project in the spring of 2008. We worked with Iraqi nationals, who have assisted the US Government and are now being threatened or forced to flee Iraq because of their work, to obtain resettlement in the United States to escape those threats. The process involves working with the client to determine their eligibility for various State Department and Homeland Security resettlement programs, then assisting them with the paperwork and interview process from that point forward.
Did you participate in any particular training so that you could handle these cases / issues?
Wills for Heroes - Volunteer attorneys who specialize in estate law provide a one-hour training session for our volunteer lawyers who draft the estate planning documents. The estate law experts stay onsite to assist individual lawyers throughout the day.
The List Project - Mayer Brown provided a three-hour training for the List Project cases and a specialized training manual.
What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases / issue?
As far as the List Project, the hope is that eventually the situation in Iraq will stabilize to the point that many Iraqis who have worked with the Americans will cease to be threatened, and that those threatened Iraqis who have been resettled will be able to return back to their homes.
For Wills for Heroes, I'd like to see the program continue such that an event is held somewhere in the state at least quarterly. We've gotten so many requests from the first responder community for new events, but only have capacity to do a certain number per year. Given the demand, I'm confident this program can continue on in North Carolina for a number of years.
How can the Mecklenburg County legal community help with similar cases / this issue?
The hope is that the North Carolina Bar Association's Young Lawyer Division will continue to run Wills for Heroes clinics in the Charlotte Metro area. More information about the national organization can be found at http://www.willsforheroes.org/. There are also ways to assist locally with the List Project. More information about the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies can be found at http://www.thelistproject.org/ .
The Mecklenburg County Bar's Volunteer Lawyer Program provides pro bono wills for qualified individuals and works closely with Habitat for Humanity in ensuring their homeowners have their estate planning needs met. If you are interested in being involved with this opportunity or others, contact Heather Blackley, staff coordinator to the Volunteer Lawyer Program Committee at 704/375-8624 or email@example.com.