MCB VLP Volunteer Spotlight

Jennie Boswell

Jennie Boswell



Jennie Cordis Boswell of Alston + Bird donated more than 225 hours on pro bono cases in 2010 ranging from domestic violence hearings to landlord/tenant cases. Ted Fillette, assistant director of Legal Aid of North Carolina said, "Jennie has been an exemplary volunteer for the clients of Legal Aid of NC.  Her record demonstrates how well volunteer attorneys can succeed outside of their regular practice areas.  We are very grateful!"  The MCB VLP thanks Jennie, and others, for dedicating so many of their hours in 2010 to pro bono initiatives!


MCB VLP:  Current Employer / number of years with current employer?


JCB:   Alston & Bird LLP / 2 years



MCB VLP:  Area of Practice / Expertise?


JCB:  I am in A&B's Litigation and Trial Practice Group.  My business litigation practice focuses on complex commercial and financial services litigation, as well as the defense of class actions, insurance and business torts and antitrust matters.



MCB VLP:  Law School / Law School Graduation Year?


JCB:  College of William & Mary School of Law / 2008



MCB VLP:  How did you get involved with this issue?


JCB:  I found out about many pro bono opportunities through A&B's pro bono committee. I have handled several domestic violence/50B cases.  I also handled an in-depth landlord/tenant case during my first year of practice and first-chaired the trial where our client received a very favorable result. 



MCB VLP:  What is a typical case like?


JCB:  With regards to a domestic violence case, I usually receive the case file within 5-7 days of the 50B hearing.  I first review the case file and police report, if there is one, and ascertain whether the defendant is incarcerated.  Then, I try to set up a meeting with my client to hear his/her version of the domestic violence incident and prepare him/her for the hearing.  If police records or photographs have to be subpoenaed, that must be done quickly.  I also contact the responding police officer to have him/her attend the hearing if possible.  The hearing operates like a trial where evidence is entered and witnesses are examined.  The judge usually rules from the bench.


Common issues in domestic violence cases are whether or not a domestic relationship exists (married, divorced, live(d) together, have a child in common, parent or grandchild relationship, in or were in dating relationship), whether bodily injuries were sustained or attempted, whether there is proof of the injuries, and whether or not the police were called and/or if there is a 911 recording of the call.  Another issue is whether the plaintiff fears for his/her life or that of his/her children. 



MCB VLP:  Did you participate in any particular training so that you could handle these cases / issues?


JCB:  Several A&B attorneys handle domestic violence and landlord/tenant cases, so I was well-mentored throughout the process by those individuals.  LANC also has handbooks that are very helpful when trying such cases.  Those are constantly referenced.  



MCB VLP:  What is your hope for the future with regard to these cases / issue?


JCB:  With regards to landlord/tenant law, the presence of mold in a rented property does not violate the Charlotte City Code, and I believe mold should be added to the list of conditions that make a property unfit to rent.  In general, I would like to see tenants rights strengthened in our community.  During these difficult economic times, there are more renters than ever, and my hope is that renters using the civil court system to force compliance with basic living standards will encourage landlords to maintain their properties and other tenants to also come forward and enforce their rights. 



MCB VLP:  What is the best advice youve received during your legal career?


JCB:  The devil is in the details.  If you know the facts of your case inside and out, you are invaluable to your team and a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. 



MCB VLP:  What advice would you give others?


JCB:  Do as much pro bono work as you possibly can.  Your clients are extremely appreciative, and it is a great thing to know you have made a real difference in the life of an individual in your community.  For young lawyers, pro bono cases provide valuable courtroom experience and the direct client contact you have been itching to getand your superiors will be impressed at your initiative.




Happy New Year!  Please consider assisting the Mecklenburg County Bars Volunteer Lawyer Program with the pro bono needs of the community in 2011.  Perhaps you could be featured in a future spotlight. Contact Heather Blackley at or 704/375-8624, ext.115 for help in finding the best firm or individual project for your legal practice.