When Richmond McPherson graduated from law school and moved to Charlotte to begin his law practice, he knew he wanted to use his legal skills for the good of our community.
An experience as a Guardian ad Litem in law school spurred Richmond to find similar volunteer opportunities in this city, which led him to The Council for Children’s Rights.
“The Council for Children’s Rights helps children in our community by giving them a voice in the court system… Particularly in high-conflict custody cases, the child is very vulnerable, and yet cannot speak for himself or herself during the legal proceedings… volunteer advocates seek to determine and advocate for the best interest of the children in need,” Richmond says.
Most appealing to Richmond in this volunteer role is the close interaction with the kids he serves.
“I am a volunteer attorney in high-conflict custody cases…I was excited to have an opportunity to meet, understand the needs of, and advocate for local children within Mecklenburg County in a more direct way. Much different than my regular law practice where I usually represent large corporations, my work at the Council for Children’s Rights has allowed me to have a more direct connection to those whom I am serving.”
Richmond remembers his first case with the Council for Children’s Rights.
“Nathan* was an eleven-year-old boy whose mother had been ill, then passed away unexpectedly. His father had never been part of his life, but resurfaced upon the hearing of the death of Nathan’s mother and sought custody…the father was, however, unprepared to be fully responsible for a child and lived outside of the Charlotte community where Nathan had grownup,” Richmond reports.
“I spent a good deal of time with Nathan, talking and listening and enjoying his company in my law office from time to time. I represented him in the custody case between his foster mother and his biological father…the court determined that Nathan’s best chance of success and safety was with his foster mother. He is doing very well, succeeding in school and happy from all accounts.”
But as much as Richmond helped Nathan, the boy and his foster mother taught him a lot, too.
“He had been in the custody of a very loving, capable seventy-year-old foster mother who was caring for four other foster children. From this kind woman, I learned a great deal about selflessness, compassion and the importance of family, whatever form that may take. From Nathan, I saw first-hand children’s ability to overcome adversity and better understood their remarkable resilience.”
Despite the hard work required, Richmond knows The Council for Children’s Rights is offering the help everyone has needed at one time or another and is changing lives in the process.
“At some point in our lives, we all need an advocate. We need someone to speak for us when we can’t…the work is sometimes painful, often tiring and always challenging, but the impact on the life of a child is substantial. The Council for Children’s Rights is making a difference in Charlotte by stepping into the complicated stories and ensuring that ‘the least of these’ is not without a voice.”
*Name changed for privacy.
In January 2015, the City Series hosted Robert McCarter, Interim Executive Director of Council for Children’s Rights. Click here to listen to the audio.