Welcome to the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission’s website. Our mission is to expand access to the civil justice system for people of low income and modest means in North Carolina. Commission members are dedicated bar and bench leaders from a broad range of companies and organizations. We collaborate to coordinate the delivery of civil legal aid services.
You can help by making a donation to a legal aid program, lobbying your representatives for increased funding and other improvements to the legal system, and educating others about the lack of access to civil legal aid. Lawyers and judges have a unique responsibility to help ensure that all citizens have access to justice—your pro bono legal services are always needed. Visit www.ncaccesstojustice.org for more information on how you can help.
The Commission, which is chaired by Chief Justice Mark Martin, was established in November 2005 by a North Carolina Supreme Court Order (See link to Court Order below). The Commission was established in recognition of the need to expand civil legal representation for people of low income and modest means in North Carolina. Among the purposes of the commission are unmet legal needs assessment, statewide strategic planning, coordination of efforts between the legal aid organizations and other legal and non-legal organizations, resource development, and expanding civil access to justice. This Commission is the 19th commission established in the United States.
THE COMMISSION DOES NOT MAKE LEGAL REFERRALS NOR PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.
- 80% of the civil legal aid needs of the poor—domestic violence, divorce, child custody, housing, consumer protection, employment, benefits, health—go unmet.
- There is only one legal aid attorney for every 13,170 low-income people. In contrast, there is one private attorney for every 562 North Carolinians.
- Nearly 740,000 North Carolina households—including working families, the elderly, and the disabled—lack affordable safe housing. Legal aid representation can mean the difference between having shelter and being out on the street.
- More than 1.3 million people under age 65 are uninsured in North Carolina, including some 240,000 children. Availability of legal services often makes the difference in access to vital health care.
Moving Forward: Solutions to the Gaps in Access to Justice
- Establish the Right to Counsel in Civil Matters Affecting Basic Human Needs.
- Increase Legislative Funding of Civil Legal Services at the State and Federal Levels.
- Encourage/Support Pro Bono Attorney Participation.
- Help Pro Se Litigants Navigate the Court System Successfully.
- Educate the Public.
- Increase the Role of the Business Community.
- Include People with Limited English Proficiency in the Justice System.
- Increase Loan Repayment Assistance.