CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Being a kid isn’t always easy. Sometimes, a little caring and concern means a great deal in a young person’s life.

This approach guided Womble Carlyle attorney Dirk Lasater to start the Little Lawyers Literacy Program last fall. The program recently completed its first school year, and both Womble Carlyle attorneys and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials say it has made a positive impact.

In the Little Lawyers Literacy Program, Womble Carlyle attorneys read and mentor to elementary school students in their classroom.

“I’d like to take credit for the idea, but I lived in Roanoke for a while and they’ve been doing it for 15 years,” Lasater said.

He said the Womble Carlyle team works with the teachers to provide whatever literacy assistance the teacher deems most worthwhile.

“We’re not here to presume what is best for an individual teacher’s classroom,” Lasater said. “Rather than read aloud, a lot of the teachers wanted more intensive one-on-one tutoring, so that’s what we did.”

Charlotte’s Briarwood Elementary School hosted the pilot program, but Lasater said if there is interest, the Little Lawyers Literacy Program may expand to other local elementary schools. Briarwood is a Title I school, meaning it serves a high percentage of low-income students.

Briarwood Principal Patti Johanson said, “Womble Carlyle truly made a difference in our students’ lives by developing positive relationships while building a love of reading. This is a partnership we value and hope to have for a very long time. Thank you, Womble Carlyle.”

In addition to Lasater, Womble Carlyle attorneys Elisa Cawood, Russ Ferguson, Clark Goodman, Mark Henriques, Camille Mollozzi, Sean Perrin, Diana Quarry, Claire Rauscher and Rob Wilder all gave their time to read to the Briarwood students during the 2015-16 school year. Local in-house counsel Amanda Anders and Eugene Brown of Wells Fargo (both former Womble Carlyle attorneys) and Raycom Media’s Claire Magee volunteered for the Little Lawyers Literacy Program as well.

“All of the attorneys had an absolute blast,” Lasater said.

The firm worked with CMS K-8 Literacy Specialist Jennifer Harrison and Community Partnerships and Engagement Coordinator Phyllis Croutch to establish the biweekly program.

At the end of the year, the Womble Carlyle team surprised the children by buying them personal copies of the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

In return, the Briarwood students sent hand-written thank-you notes to each Womble Carlyle attorney, which Lasater said was more than a fair exchange.

About Womble Carlyle

Womble Carlyle is a 550-attorney law firm that corporate clients rely on to provide core legal services, such as Complex Business Litigation, Mass Torts, Intellectual Property, Corporate & Securities, Finance and Real Estate.

Our focus is the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Silicon Valley markets, and from this footprint, we serve clients in matters across the country and across the world. Clients trust us because we understand their businesses, focus on their successes, demonstrate a commitment to help, and deliver value for their dollars they spend on us. 

Thanks to Womble Carlyle’s partnership with Lex Mundi, the world’s largest association of independent law firms, we can offer clients access to quality-tested local counsel in more than 120 countries. Lex Mundi provides seamless access to local attorneys and market knowledge throughout the globe.

Womble Carlyle’s offices are located in: Atlanta; Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, S.C.; Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, and Winston-Salem, N.C.; Silicon Valley, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville and Tysons Corner, Va.; Baltimore; and Wilmington, Del.