Pro bono lawyers from Baker McKenzie, alongside partner organizations, release handbook
Global law firm Baker McKenzie, in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and Bank of America, is pleased to announce the publication of the North Carolina Homeless Youth Handbook, an online resource designed to empower young people to understand their legal rights and take action to build safe, stable futures with North Carolina-specific information.
Nearly 500 unaccompanied youth were identified as living on their own and without consistent access to shelter in North Carolina in 2020. In North Carolina schools, nearly 35,000 students are estimated to be experiencing some form of homelessness, and their struggles have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Handbook is an online resource written in plain-language and in a youth-friendly question-and-answer format to ensure young people can use it themselves. The resource will be shared with schools, libraries, public agencies, social advocates, and others throughout North Carolina.
“Homeless children are among the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Hope Williams, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina. “It is critical that those who have the ability to help these children do everything they can to educate them about their rights and connect them to resources that can help stabilize their lives. The Homeless Youth Handbook is a powerful tool for homeless children and their advocates, and we at Legal Aid are proud to have contributed to its development.”
About 75 volunteers donated more than 1,000 hours of pro bono effort to research, write, and edit the handbook, which covers topics including education, domestic and dating violence, healthcare, and more. Organizations that supported the effort include Bank of America, ACLU of North Carolina, Disability Rights North Carolina, North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, Wake County Public Defender’s Office, Equality North Carolina, and the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program.
Baker McKenzie has partnered with other organizations to produce 11 handbooks in 10 states and Washington D.C. Learn more here.
“Housing is the most basic structural need for everyday life, and the lack of a stable home fuels many social and economic challenges that our communities face. We welcome the opportunity to work with our organizational partners to release The Homeless Youth Handbook. This project demonstrates how collaboration among in-house counsel, non-profits and law firms can exponentially increase assistance to those in need, particularly the most vulnerable among us during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Colin Murray, North America Chief Executive Officer at Baker McKenzie.
“Through partnerships like this, we provide youth in the US, and their advocates, with clear guidance on young people's legal rights,” added Jaclyn Pampel, Baker McKenzie Pro Bono Partner and one of the leads of this effort. "Thank you to the talented teams at Legal Aid of North Carolina and Bank of America, and to all of our supporting partners, for their collaboration on this important project."